History uncovered at fall cemetery visit
December 1, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Nearly 50 guests visited Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Nov. 17 as participants in the 2010 Fall Cemetery Tour, which included four of the installation's 60 cemeteries.
Twice a year, the cemetery and historic site provides former residents and their Family Members an opportunity to visit their ancestral homes, and helps educate attendees about the installation's extensive history; which dates back beyond the establishment of Fort Argyle in 1733 along the Installation's eastern border near Richmond Hill.
Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander, Col. Kevin Milton, greeted participants at this year's event and expressed his appreciation to everyone for their continued support of the installation, the Soldiers and their Families. He said he understood the historic significance of the area, and the sacrifice made by those Families whose lands were purchased to create the installation in the 1940s to prepare for World War II.
Fort Stewart Cemetery Council Member Deborah Robinson, Director of the Dorchester Museum, accompanied by Sarah McIver, a volunteer helping restore historic Dorchester, said she enjoyed taking the bi-annual tours because you can always learn something new.
McIver agreed by saying, "I love to share knowledge. It is surprising to meet, even some of the local people, who aren't aware of how historically rich this part of Georgia is."
On this occasion, Directorate of Public Work's architectural historian Joseph Paul Maggioni, with assistance of the Fort Stewart Cemetery Council, help enlighten tour participants about the areas surrounding Smith Chapel; JE Moody, Bethel and Strickland Pond cemeteries.
At the first stop, FSCC Vice President Wyman May, and FSCC council member Alberta Mullins helped uncover a historic marker with Maggioni, at Smith Chapel, noting it was part of the Banner community, a rural African-American that existed from at least 1889 to 1941 along the historic Hencart Road (presently Highway 144). Community members discussed how the area was also near Congregational, Smith and Zion Traveler Cemetery (communities) too.
The second stop was J.E. Moody Cemetery. The earliest marker there was from April 1840, and the last dated June 1897.
Upon arrival at the Bethel Cemetery, the third stop, Maggioni and May explained how in Sept 20, 1909, W.G. Tuten, a landowner and lumber industrialist, built a railroad from Savannah, Ga., to the Altamaha River. Extending his railroad west to Glennville, Tuten, helped establish a train station and subsequent community called Lida - named after area landowner Jeff Dasher's daughter. The station brought additional commerce, mail and passengers into the area near Bethel Church and Cemetery.
The visit concluded following a visit to Strickland Pond, where the group shared a picnic style lunch and learned about the 13 marked graves there; which included one dating back to January 1822. Maggioni noted the land was part of a large 1081 acre tract owned by Walon A. Strickland Jr. at the time of the Army Acquisition. Previous owners of the land that were noted to be buried there included G.W. Murrell, J.W. Hardee, and ZL Delk.
Community members can learn more about future cemetery trips by contacting Public Affairs at 912-435-9872 or learn more about the cultural resources of Fort Stewart by visiting