William John Wren was the founder and namesake of the town of Wrens. This memorial is located beside the post office, with the Wren House visible in the background. I’m not sure when it was placed here, but it was likely around the time of Mr. Wren’s death.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Memorials
The two most famous residents of Montezuma’s historic Felton Cemetery are the Lewis Brothers. Elijah John Lewis (11 February 1879-8 August 1893) had an attack of appendicitis traveling to New York with his uncle William “Minor” Lewis to buy stock for their store. He died in Chester, South Carolina while awaiting medical attention. Robert Landrum Lewis (16 January 1881-18 March 1895) saved an eight-year-old boy named Frank Hague from drowning in Beaver Creek and on the next day was accidentally shot by Leo Hertz. It was first though that he would survive but he died in his sleep. The boys’ father, Elijah Banks Lewis, was so saddened by the loss of his sons that he ordered marble statues from Italy in their likeness. There are many other wonderful monuments and memorials in this cemetery.
In July 1893 delegates and members of vocal classes established by William Jackson “Uncle Billy” Royal assembled at Irwin Institute to organize the Royal Singing Convention. From 1893 until 1912 the Convention met in Irwin and surrounding counties in churches of different denominations or in school houses. In 1912 a huge tent was purchased to accommodate the large number of people attending. In 1919 the people of Mystic established a fund to build a tabernacle to serve as a permanent home for the convention. The tabernacle was erected on this site in time to house the 1920 session. Changes in society and advancements in technology brought an end to the Royal Convention after meeting continuously each July for 85 years. The final session was held in 1977. The tabernacle was razed in 1982. [The New Georgia Encyclopedia notes that the first documented gospel singing convention in Georgia was founded as the South Georgia Singing Convention by Uncle Billy Royal in 1875, prior to the convention profiled here].
As many of the old timers were passing on, the first commemoration of this special place was the placement of a granite marker by Uncle Billy’s grandchildren in 1953. It’s located at the entrance to the new memorial.
This memorial reproduces the plan of the original tabernacle at full size. A low brick perimeter wall supported wooden posts which held up a massive roof. Today granite cubes indicate where those posts were located. The singer’s stages is recreated with the monument to “Uncle Billy”. At its edge, permanent memorials are dedicated to friends and loved ones or recall precious memories, favorite hymns and treasured Bible verses. It was dedicated in 1991 after much work by the Royal Singing Convention Association. The Board of Trustees included: Charles C. Royal, Jr., President; Dorothy Royal Grimsley, Vice President; Helen Day Spacek, Secretary; Ralph W. Sims, Treasurer; and board members Eloise Royal Luke, Michael F. Royal, and Jacqueline E. Turner. Stanford Anderson, a nationally-known architect and professor at MIT was responsible for the design.
The memorial is located next to the historic Mystic Baptist Churh on Highway 32 in Mystic. It’s an open air memorial and therefore always open to the public. There is no admission charge.
Famed sculptor Marshall Daugherty, who created the John Wesley Monument in Savannah’s Reynolds Square, completed this bust of Uncle Billy Royal in 1953. Following are archival photos from the memorial.
This is a view of the tabernacle tent in 1916. It was used from 1912 until 1919.
This photo from 1953 shows the tabernacle which was first used in 1920.
William Jackson “Uncle Billy” Royal (16 April 1850-24 May 1931) – Founder and 1st President of the Convention.
James A. “Uncle Jimmie” Royal – 2nd President of the Convention, 1931-1950. Son of William Jackson Royal.
Erston B. Royal – 3rd and last President of the Convention, 1950-1977. Grandson of William Jackson Royal.
Having traveled past this memorial all my life, it was one of the first local landmarks I chose to photograph when I began doing the work for Vanishing South Georgia nearly a decade ago. This peaceful cemetery still fascinates me. The main attraction is the marble statue of a Major John B. Mitchell, so well executed that it’s finer than many county Confederate memorials.
Company O, 5th Georgia Infantry (21 September 1847 – 23 October 1913)
The cemetery is the final resting place for many South Georgia pioneers and Confederate veterans.
This early enclosure is well-preserved compared to many, which have collapsed.
This obelisk was placed by the Appling Grays Camp #918 and the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. It memorializes Confederate units from numerous counties that were once part of a larger Appling County: Company F, 47th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Appling Rangers; Companies I & K, Clinch’s 4th Georgia Cavalry; Company I, 27th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Appling Grays; Captain John Mayers’s Appling County Cavalry; Company B, 54th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Appling Volunteers; Captain Ben Milikin’s Appling County Militia; Company K, 54th Georgia Volunteer Infanty, Satilla Rifles; Captain Silas Crosby’s Appling County Militia.
Alamo has a nice memorial to its fallen heroes, located in a small park beside the police station on U. S. Highway 280. It features a bronze eagle atop a tapered obelisk surrounded by a granite wall listing the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was dedicated on 27 May 1996 by the Jenkins-Patterson Post 193 American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary.
World War I Casualties: Alexander Blackshear; Joseph Judson Bracewell; Joe Burns; Albert B. Carter; James Albert Clements; Henry H. Fields; Orlando Lee; Jessie A. Mercer; Thomas L. Purvis; George C. Windham
World War II Casualties: Gurney W. Alston; James D. Bracewell, Jr.; Eldridge D. Branch; Arlin W. Bridges, Sr.; S. I. Bullard; Neal Harlow Clark; Comer L. Jenkins; Herman A. McRae; Thomas L. Miller; Paul Nelms; Plumer M. Nelson; William D. Nobles; Hiram S. Patterson; Harlem D. Pope; Percy E. Pope; Vernice Ricks; Willie B. Roberts; Johnnie F. Rowland; B. Raymond Swain; Jack Twilley; John D. White
Korean War Casualties: Grady L. McCoy; James McDaniel; Julian D. Peebles, Jr.; James C. Rix
Vietnam Casualties: Russell B. Adams; Roger L. Bonner; Dawson Clements; Vertis Mackey; Melvin Poole; James R. Thomas