Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Davis Cemetery

The second Sunday in June is Decoration Day at Davis Cemetery, where many of my kinfolk on my daddy’s side of the family are buried.
It's a small cemetery on the outskirts of Dora that dates back to the 1800's. The Dora Centennial Book says that Dr. Daniel Davis, who happens to be one of my ancestors, donated the burial ground.
The old section of the graveyard is on a hillside shaded by oak, hickory and pine. Cutting the grass is a nightmare because of all the trees, shrubs, grave plots and markers. But when spruced up, it’s a beautiful place.
There is a soldier buried there who fought in the War of 1812. There are also veterans of the Civil War, World War I and II, as well as the Korean War and Vietnam.
It's a quite place most of the time but it is situated a few hundred yards from the railroad tracks that run from Birmingham through Walker County and destinations to the west.
Trains blow their horns for the crossings at Red Star and Old Dora and the sound echoes through the hollows. If you find yourself in the graveyard as a train approaches, the sound can be lonesome and haunting.
A few years ago, I decided to do a Web site for Davis Cemetery. My friend Janice Bennett had a list of names of the people buried there. I went to the cemetery and started shooting pictures of the gravestones for the site to go along with the names.
I then came up with the idea to add pictures and stories of the people to add interest. Naturally I started looking through my family albums to find photos of my family who are buried there. Some other local families submitted pictures and stories too.
When you visit the site, you can click on a name that contains informationm, and up comes pictures and a little bit about their lives. The idea is to have information on as many people as possible.
There are a lot of interesting stories about the people who lived and died here. The mission of is to provide a historical record of these people.
I get calls from time to time from people all across the country who are doing family histories and other genealogical work. My intention is that the cemetery Web site will help fill in pieces of the puzzle in their quest. I feel this is important work.
I read a poem by Linda Ellis called “The Dash between the Years.” The idea is that the dash on a tombstone between the birth and death dates represents the life of that person. It was a poem that touched my heart and caused me to spend time contemplating my “dash.”
Here are a couple verses:
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

The Davis Cemetery Web site is a long-term project that could take years. Collecting the stories about the “dashes” is my way of honoring the people buried there.
If you have people buried at Davis Cemetery and would like to share their story, please send me an email at

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