Resting Respect: Paying Visits to Some of the South’s Most Influential Figures

Perhaps you were watching my travels throughout this great State of Alabama this weekend on Facebook.

You may wonder what I was doing, you may also wonder what made me pay visits to the many statues and gravesites in multiple cities.

Well, since sports have been basically nonexistent since mid-March, I have come across a newfangled hobby, touring cemeteries; both virtually and physically to pay respects to those that are no longer here in bodily form, but rather in the presence of God.

On Saturday, I visited a statue dedicated to the memory of Booker T. Washington, a mid-19th-century and early-20th-century social reformer, who believed in hard work, and self-education.

On Sunday, Dad and I took a family friend with us to Mobile, Alabama, to visit multiple cemeteries with several early-Mobile notable figures.

Our first visit Sunday, was to the notoriously haunted, Church Street Graveyard, where the man who created a Mardi Gras Revival in 1866 and 1867, is buried.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him, Joseph Stillwell “Joe” Cain Jr. while in Church Street Graveyard, we saw the famous Boyington Oak that stands just outside the Northwest corner of the 19th-century New England churchyard-style cemetery atop the grave of Charles Robert Stuart Boyington, a mid-17th-century printer and gambler, whom moved to Mobile in search of a better life than the one he had experienced in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut.

Mr. Boyington, allegedly had become friends with Nathaniel Frost, whom owed him money from one of their poker games but refused to give Boyington the money.

As a result, Mr. Frost would be stabbed, robbed, and left for dead inside of the Church Street Graveyard.

Mr. Boyington would be framed as the suspect, taken into custody, and hanged in 1835. According to legend, his last words, as his feet dangled from a tree at Oakleigh, which is now historic landmark, were “A tree will grow from my heart to prove my innocence.”

After our stop to visit Alabama’s third-most haunted burial ground, the three of us made our way to the 120-acre Magnolia Cemetery just down the road, to pay respects to Confederate States Army General Braxton Bragg, whom I claim is my namesake. We also saw numerous graves of confederate soldiers.

Next, we travelled to the 19th-century, Saluda Hill Cemetery, in Spanish Fort, Alabama, to visit the grave of Zachariah Godbold, the only known Revolutionary War veteran buried in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Moral of the story, pay respects to those that came before anyway you can, you never know what you’ll run across in the process.

Church Street Graveyard sign.
Joe Cain grave, Church Street Graveyard.
Joe Cain and I in Church Street Graveyard.
The haunted Boyington Oak, Church Street Graveyard.
Confederate Monument, Magnolia Cemetery.
General Braxton Bragg and I.
Our Confederate Dead, Magnolia Cemetery
Zachariah Godbold, Revolutionary War veteran, Saluda Hill Cemetery, Spanish Fort, Alabama.
Booker T. Washington statue, Tuskegee University.