On my recent trip down to south Georgia where I was born and lived half my life, my brother Max and I, along with two second cousins, Latrelle and Rob, visited a couple of cemeteries. One was in Pelham, Georgia where my grandfather and grandmother Robison are buried. That is also where my grandfather and grandmother Council are buried, but we were only looking for Robisons on this trip.
We arrived at Pelham Cemetery around noon and it was hot as I expected it to be. What I didn’t expect was my reaction to the heat. After only a short time while Max and my cousins stood out in the hot son discussing family, I tried to find a place in the shade where I could sit down. There was no place. Inside the car was even warmer. I found a short stone wall and sat down hoping the dizzy feeling I was having would disappear. For a few seconds I felt I might pass out and fall right there on a grave. I leaned over and put my head down as far as I could without tipping off the wall and breathed deeply. Would they ever stop talking? How could I get them to take me out of that heat?
I called out, “Can we go now? I need to find a bathroom.”
That was as good as calling Fire when you need Help. Everyone turned and headed for the car. The AC saved my life, or at least saved me from keeling over. I just can’t take heat anymore.We found a Hardee’s and went inside. A cold drink helped immensely.
Soon we were back on the road searching for the tiny little town of Whigham, Georgia, the birthplace of my mother and most of her family. There we would search for Providence Cemetery near Providence Baptist Church. My grandparents attended the Tired Creek Methodist Church, I think, but my great grandfather, John Monroe Robison and his wife Idella Cooper Robison are buried in Providence Cemetery. I don’t think John Monroe was a Baptist, but he is there. Between Rob’s memory and my memory of visiting there over twenty years ago, we found the old cemetery, but what a different place.
When last I was there, the graveyard was overgrown and unkempt, as though it had been forgotten. It was a long way from the church. But on this day we found the place looking peaceful and serene surrounded by farm land and forests. Only the sound of birds broke the silence as we approached the green field with the modest grave stones.
No one was there but the three of us. I headed to the right side where the oldest stones laid weathered and gray. Rob agreed with me that this was the area where he had seen John Monroe’s grave when he visited with our cousin Peggy many years ago. But we could not find it. We found Ida Jones Robison, the first wife of my grandfather William. We found George Jones, the father of Ida, and some others of the Jones line.
I began to wonder if we were in the right place or if somehow the stone of the one we sought had been removed. I walked down past all the Merritts and the Waldens who were also distant relatives, descendants of our John Robison, their graves newer and shinier than the one I was looking for.
I was hot and ready to give up on my search when Latrelle called out. “Here is a Robison. Is this the one we want?”
We gathered around the grave and read the words carved into the stone. It was our ancestor, John Monroe Robison, who served in the Confederate Army as a blacksmith. He survived the war and lived a long life.
Beside him lies his wife whose name was not spelled out. I.F. Robison is carved into the stone of Idella Frances Cooper Robison. Women were not as important as the men in the world where she worked hard and bore children, cooked and cleaned and met her husband’s needs.
|John Monroe Robison in chair with his five sons and five daughters. Third from left is my grandfather, William Henry Robison|
In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, someone wrote about this large family and how important Mr. and Mrs. John Robison were to the community. The writer said he remembered the family sitting on the porch in the evenings and singing together. I am not surprised that my mother came from a musical family. She loved to sing and listen to music, especially the singing of her four sons.
Latrelle who lives in Franklin, Tennessee and Rob who lives in Arkansas, made pictures of each other at the grave sites. I’m sure they want to share them with their families who have never been to south Georgia.
It was a long day, but one I will not forget. I enjoy Rob so very much. He reminds me of my mother, open and friendly and interested in everything. My day with Latrelle, who is also a writer, could not have been more fun for me. I feel like we are old friends. Maybe there is something to this DNA thing. Perhaps our connection is strong because the same genes run through our blood. Perhaps it is because we all care about our ancestors and their life stories.
We agreed that we would get together next year at my house in North Carolina. I look forward to that time.