Garrett reunion features grave marker dedication ceremony

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Garrett family of Covington County held its annual reunion on Sat., March 20, in the fellowship hall of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, located on Brooklyn Road. The day’s activities were concluded with an impressive grave marker dedication ceremony in the Jordan Cemetery, located off Padgett Road in the same community.

Those attending the event were descendants of James Garrett and his wife, Irene (Gipson), who were natives of South Carolina. The parents of James have not been identified, but there was a Comfort Gibson residing in the county with George W. and Celia Ann Garrett when the 1860 census was recorded. This is likely a parent of Irene. James and Irene resided near the Conecuh River in the community southwest of Andalusia that would come to be called Salem. At their deaths they were buried in the Jordan Cemetery. James was born in 1804 in South Carolina and died here in 1884. Irene was born in 1828 and died after the date of James’s death.

A son of James and Irene Garrett, John Jack Garrett, born in 1846, is the primary subject of this writing. Although it is not known as to exactly when his family moved to this area, it is believed that he may have been born in the Salem community on Nov. 5, 1846. When he was but a teenager at about 15 years of age, he enlisted to serve in the Confederate Army. According to family records he rendered service as a private in Company C., 22nd Alabama Infantry Regiment, CSA.

John fought in several conflicts including the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of Missionary ridge. On May 16, 1864, he was captured during the Battle at Resaca, Ga. While he was being transferred to the prison camp in Louisville, Ky., it was necessary that he be admitted to the U.S.A. Post Small Pox Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., on Dec. 19, 1864. Naturally, he was registered at the hospital as a prisoner of war. On Jan. 18, 1865, John was released from the hospital, but still as a prisoner of war.

John Garrett was only 18-years-old when the war ended in 1865. He made his way home to Andalusia and returned to his family and their farm. After six years he had met and was married to a young lady in the community, Martha Jane Little, daughter of Henry B. and Elizabeth (Beck) Little. They made their home near their families and reared the following children: Florence Ida, died at at 6 months; William Anderson, b. 1877, d. 1954, m. Amanda Virginia “Mandy” Brooks; Irene Elizabeth, m. James Henry Palmer; Minnie Roberta, m. Ullie Mansfield Keeffe; and three infants who died at birth. The infants were all buried in the family plot in the Jordan Cemetery.

John Jack Garrett homesteaded 160 acres of land in 1909 in the Red Oak Township. He may well be the John Garrett who had homesteaded 159 acres in 1891 in the Montezuma Township. In 1904, John J. and Martha Jane Garrett transferred land to W.F. Simmons. In 1909, John conveyed 30 acres of land to his son, William Anderson Garrett. Later that year, John conveyed 40 acres to Cornelia Garrett. Then in 1916, Cornelia Garrett conveyed 40 acres to William Anderson Garrett. (It appears John Jack Garrett had married Cornelia Garrett following the death of his first wife, Martha Jane (Little), in 1904.

The descendants who gathered for the 2010 annual reunion are the descendants of the above William Anderson and Amanda Virginia “Mandy” Brooks Garrett. A great great granddaughter, Amy (Alsup) Grimes and her husband, John Grimes, were instrumental in scheduling the memorial dedication service, ordering and placing the Confederate grave marker for John Jack Garrett at his grave in the Jordan Cemetery. Amy is a member of a UDC chapter, and John, of a SCV camp in the State of Texas.

The ceremony honoring the service of John Jack Garrett in Company C, 22nd Alabama Infantry Regiment, CSA was conducted at 2:30 p.m. on Sat., March 20, by the Thomas Randolph Thomasson Chapter, No. 2471, United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Covington Rifles Camp, No. 1586, Sons of Confederate Veterans, both based in Andalusia. Several in attendance wore period dress such as the ladies of the UDC who wore long black dresses to express their mourning as would have happened on such occasions in history. Six reenactors of Company E, 15th Alabama Infantry Regiment initiated the ceremony by posting four flags: American, Christian, Alabama and Confederate. Local UDC president Tammie Evans led the audience in the pledges and salutes.

John Garrett, great-great-grandson, gave the invocation, which was followed by a general welcome from Tammie Evans. Amy Grimes, great-great-granddaughter, presented a brief biography of Confederate Veteran John Jack Garrett. Ron Taylor, member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led the group in singing “Dixie’s Land.” Amy Grimes’s sons, John and Jacob, great great great grandsons, unveiled the featured marker and John read the inscription. Tammie Evans then officially dedicated the marker.

The solemnity of the occasion was continued with Charles Simon playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Next, Brandi Evans, historian for the local UDC chapter, placed a wreath from the UDC members. Immediately, the members of Company E, 15th Alabama Infantry Regiment fired a three-volley gun salute, which was followed by Erica Ziglar, bandsman from Straughn High School, playing “Taps.” The last activity before the closing prayer was a “Canteen Salute” by the reenactors. They marched up to the grave and marker one at a time, saluted, knelt, took a drink from his canteen, and poured some at the base of the marker. This element was new to most of the audience, and many expressed how moving it was. The program was concluded with great-grandson Dan Garrett of Abilene, Texas, wording the closing prayer.

After considerable visiting and touring of the historic Jordan Cemetery, the group retired to the fellowship hall of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ, which was a little more than a mile away. The Thomasson UDC chapter hosted a reception with refreshments for those participating in the ceremony and descendants attending the reunion.

Anyone who might have questions regarding the above dedication ceremony or the Garrett family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: