Every cemetery has a few, and each holds a story, but often the grave is so old that no one above ground recalls.
An example is the grave of Madge Vansant.
Her headstone is topped by a small resting lamb, near her parents, Noah and Nolie Vansant. In the 1920 census, they lived close to two other Vansant families, likely brothers, in the Chapel Hill community of Douglas Co.
Noah was a farmer, but in 1930 they had moved to Douglasville, where he managed a store and had a son, Max.
My connection is that Nolie Phillips Vansant was my grandfather's sister.
Madge died when she fell from the family wagon.
That same day my grandfather bought a new Studebaker wagon, and it stayed in the family until it was stolen a few years ago. It was never found, and there was no investigation of the theft of an old farm wagon.
My father's family rarely spoke of the wagon without mentioning that it came to the Phillips farm the day Madge Vansant died.
Wagon accidents must have been common in that day because Nolie's grandfather also died in a wagon accident.
As a child, I didn't pay much attention to random family stops to visit graves, but there was a stop that drew notice because my parents visited one grave often and attended it with care.
There isn't much left to Stilesboro, Ga., but it was once a bouncing place with churches and a main street full of stores. My maternal grandfather was briefly director of Stilesboro Academy in the early 1900s.
My father and Tom Wheelis were students at Berry College and remained friends for life.
As pastor of the Stilesboro Methodist Church, he and Elizabeth lived in the small parsonage that stood near the church.
Their young daughter, Gwendolyn Frances, received her middle name from my mother; their bond was that close.
When “Gwinnie's” name was mentioned, my mother usually turned away and became quiet.
On a Saturday afternoon, Tom and Elizabeth returned home with groceries. Elizabeth carried packages into the house, while Tom backed the Ford into the garage.
Gwinnie was a toddler; just walking.
The moment would freeze in time and be dissected for years because nobody was watching Gwinnie.
It is tragic when an accident claims a child, but unimaginably unbearable when it comes through a parent's lack of attention.
Gwinnie's death ripped the couple apart. Each blamed themselves and the other: They split.
Elizabeth dropped away. I lost her trail many years ago.
Tom left the ministry, but eventually returned to the pulpit and married another woman named Elizabeth.
This couple produced a daughter they would call “Gwendy.”
Today, I make semi-annual visits to Gwinnie's grave to tend it after my father's tradition, but there isn't much cleaning to do. I doubt anyone in Stilesboro or Bartow County knows who she was.
But I do.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.