Ledger Inquirer: Hidden cemetery on Buena Vista Road needs some help

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 21, 2012 

Out Buena Vista Road, just before the intersection with Floyd Road, a small strip mall sits on the north side of the street.

Behind it, completely hidden from view from the street, is a woody patch of earth, overgrown with scrub trees and brush. It's clogged with vines and strewn with beer cans and other trash. An old mattress sits discarded at the edge of the parcel of land, beside a couple of Dumpsters used by the strip mall's tenants.

Welcome to the Nix Family Cemetery, a small patch of land surrounded by asphalt and containing at least 17 marked graves. Jeff Nix, a descendant of the patriarch of the plots, contacted me recently about the deplorable condition of the place.

"The only words I have to describe how this makes me feel couldn't be printed," Nix said. And who can blame him?

Nix's great-great grandfather, William Alexander Nix, who fought in the Civil War and was a high-ranking Mason when he died in 1913, is buried there alongside his wife, and son, Bartow "Bo" Nix.

His paternal great-grandfather and his wife are also buried there, as are numerous other ancestors.

The oldest known grave in the cemetery belongs to A. Odom, born in 1784, just eight years after the country was born, and died in 1860, a year before Gen. Beauregard opened fire on a Union garrison at Fort Sumter. Odom's grave sits on the edge of the cemetery nearest the strip mall's back wall, which is charmingly decorated with graffiti.

The Chattahoochee Valley Cemeteries Society says there are 17 marked graves in the abandoned, overgrown place. Nix said he estimates about 80 percent of them are his ancestors, and he believes there are more than a few unmarked graves.

One of the men buried in the Nix Cemetery has a sordid story. That would be Bartow "Bo" Nix, son of William Anderson Nix, the Civil War veteran and high-ranking Mason. In addition to being an alleged bootlegger, Bo was convicted of a double murder in late 1917 and hanged for the crime two years later. (The wheels of justice moved more quickly in those days.)

Bo was convicted of killing C.L. Alexander and Jesse Everedge and burying their bodies in a patch of woods off Buena Vista Road, near the Nix home and the cemetery in which he would soon reside. Alexander and Everedge were supposedly at the Nix place to buy some bootleg whiskey.

"While I most certainly am not proud of the alleged incidents regarding Bartow," said Jeff Nix, "I am saddened by the callous disregard by people wandering through the area, depositing their trash on and around the site."

Nix said he would like to do some of the cleanup himself, but he has some health issues that prevent him from much heavy exertion.

So, after I recently wrote about the Revolutionary War veteran's cemetery on Warm Springs Road, and how the Sons of the American Revolution stepped in to help renovate it, Nix got an idea. Taking a page from the Inquirer playbook, Nix emailed the local Sons of Confederate Veterans and asked for the group's help.

He said he got a return email from the SCV saying the local group, Camp 15, expressing some interest, but giving no specifics.

That's a good start. I'm going to see if I can get in touch with the camp commander. I'm also going to get in touch with local Masonic Lodges and see if the Masons might be interested in pitching in, too.

Who knows? Maybe local bootleggers will take a few hours off from campaigning against Sunday liquor sales to lend a hand.

You might be wondering why the owner of the cemetery won't do something about it. Well, because they're dead. An abandoned private cemetery cannot be sold or otherwise disturbed without permission of the descendants. In effect, it belongs to its residents.

Muscogee County School Board member John Wells owns the strip mall and the land surrounding the cemetery, but he has no legal responsibility for its upkeep.

Stay tuned.

Update

Even Marginally Sentient Readers will recall last week's report on a bad water leak on Manchester Expressway near its intersection with River Road. The leak was wasting water and creating a soggy swamp next to a Metra bus stop.

I called Cliff Arnett, a Water Works senior vice president, who said he'd send a crew over to check it out.

The Water Works may have checked it out last week, but no repairs have been made. Water is still flowing down the street and if the swamp gets any larger, you might see Popeye's Chicken on the corner serving fried gator tail soon.

Seen something that needs repair? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.

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