Inquirer: Old Clapp Cemetery gets new Confederate markers

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 23, 2014 

Concerned Reader and renowned Bibb Citizen Brad was out for a walk on the extreme northern end of the Chattahoochee RiverWalk recently and noticed something new.

"Walking the 'upper Bibb' toward the marina this weekend, I was surprised to see a handful of headstones have been placed at the Clapp's Factory cemetery," Brad wrote, and posed a few interesting questions. "All the markers appear to be CSA, so maybe it's a DAR project? They can't know who was buried where, so I'm guessing they're just putting markers at graves without especially trying to match them. But who knows, what with modern science and junk."

First of all, Brad, the Daughters of the American Revolution is a decidedly Union outfit, bless their hearts. Not of the Confederate era or leanings. Besides, I suspected I knew who was responsible, but I decided to check it out first.

It was a nice day for a walk, so I strolled down the upper RiverWalk and found the spot about which Brad asked. Sure enough, there were four apparently new engraved stone Confederate grave markers in what looks like a patch of forest but is marked by a large sign as the "Clapp's Factory Cemetery, Established 1830." That was just two years after the city was established and a few miles north of the original city limits.

The four new headstones are for: William Page, Co. A, 31st Georgia Infantry, 1843-1862; Wm. Osborne Morris, Co. C1, City Battalion, Georgia Infantry, 1846-1865; James Newsome, Co. C1, City Battalion, Georgia Infantry, 1834-1894; and Wm. Robert Jeffries, Terell Light Artillery, Georgia Volunteers, 1848-1899.

According to Clason Kyle's pictorial history of Columbus, "Images," the old Clapp's factory, was built in 1834 near this site, in the shadow of the Lake Oliver Dam, which wouldn't be built for many decades to come. It was burned at the end of the Civil War by Union troops, arsonists that they were.

It was rebuilt in 1866. and by 1880 it had 134 looms looming away. It burned again in 1910, and that was it for the old mill. Had it survived, it would likely be condos today.

But back to Brad's question about whether they mark specific graves.

Longtime readers will remember that the Inquirer's official cemetery expert is John Mallory Land, who runs the Chattahoochee Valley Cemeteries Society. CVCS is the unofficial overseer of cemeteries that don't have official caretakers.

It turns out that the CVCS arranged for the grave markers for the fallen Confederates. And Brad's right. In spite of modern science and junk, there is no way to know exactly where any of the specific residents of the old cemetery are buried. Archeologists estimate there are between 300 and 500 people buried there, Land said.

The markers are provided by the federal government, which is fitting because that's probably who killed Page and Morris and then may have Reconstructed the other two to death.

Damn Yankees.

Update

Residents of Norris Road, you will recall, had for the last few weeks a raging river flowing down their street courtesy of the Columbus Water Works draining a water tank for inspection.

Well, the 400,000-500,000 gallons of water in the tank is apparently drained because the river is dried up.

Seen anything that needs attention, or even explaining? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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