Historic Veasey Cemetery revisited

Published 12:44 am Saturday, December 17, 2016

This writer had an occasion to visit the historic Veasey Cemetery on Saturday, December 10, 2016. The site is located on the east side of Veasey Chapel Road in the southeastern corner of Covington County. It has been described as having been along the old Possum Trot Road when the early settlers lived in the area. It is also about two miles west of Burnout (also called Host at one time). There is a small chapel building across from it that was built by area citizens for families to use for funerals and other occasions rather than for a church.

Burnout was officially named Host before the War Between the States, but area citizens have most frequently known the location as the Burnout. One theory for the name of Burnout is that several stores or buildings at the site were burned over time. The name Host came from a post office being established there and so named.

Currently Veasey Chapel Road leads off Burnout Road, which leads northwest from U.S. Highway 331. The area along this road was known in earlier years as Hickory Nut Ridge where a number of early settlers resided. Some of the prominent ones who lived in the area during the 1830s through the 1850s include David L. Cauley who was Sheriff of Covington County at one time. Others were Bill Haygood, Jonathan Mitchell, James Talton Drake, Lloyd Robert Butler Sr. and a Mr. Birgman.

Other sites located in the general area include the following: Old Williams Graveyard, James P. Parker’s country store, Mitchell School, Thomasson School, Roan Spicer’s cotton gin and sawmill, Charlie Henley’s store, M.M. Meredith’s store, Union Primitive Baptist Church and probably other churches. Parker was married to David Cauley’s daughter. His store, which was established before 1839, was located about where the old Bill Butler’s house still stands along the Old Three Notch Road, which was once known as the Rose Hill-Burnout Road.

It appears the cemetery was located along the early historic Possum Trot Road, which no longer exists with the exception of a short stretch of the southern end. At one time, someone was working to prepare a list of the families who resided along Possum Trot. A few who have been identified include the following: Joe Jernigan, Barfield Tubberville, Thomas Henley, Thomas Randolph Thomasson, Sam Bower(s), Alma Bower(s), and Dempsey Bower(s) at a later date. (This writer would very much like to hear from that person or anyone who had relatives that lived along the road.)

Several of the local families through the years have buried their relatives in the Veasey Cemetery, which is named for the prominent Veasey family. The land was donated by Jess H. and Elizabeth (Skipper) Veasey, and in later years their granddaughter, Carrie (Veasey) Sasser, donated additional land to extend the size of the cemetery. It is believed the earliest grave is that of Mrs. M.M. Scofield who died in 1875, so the cemetery would have been established about that time. Some of the other family names on headstones include Alsabrooks, Butler, Cauley, Chandler, Drake, Frazier, Henegan, McDaniel, Maloy, Mitchell, Richards, Thomasson, Williams, and others.

There are at least 12 Confederate Veterans buried there including four Veaseys, Jesse H. and three of his sons: Barney, James Thomas and Samuel D. Others include this writer’s great grandfather, Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson, and three of his brothers-in-law: Rice Butler, Lloyd Robert Butler Jr. and James Talton Drake. Still others are W.H. Alsabrooks, David L. Cauley, Jesse Chandler, and Jefferson Alphonso Zeno Chandler.

The cemetery is fenced and well maintained currently. Even though it is quite old and located in a somewhat desolate area, families are still burying their loved ones there near their ancestors. In fact, the occasion for the recent visit was for the burial of a native daughter, Edith Susannah (Drake) Grumbine, who grew up a couple of miles from the cemetery at the reputable Drake home place, located along U.S. 331. Edith’s husband, James Ridgley Grumbine, was returned from Maryland and buried there in 2008.

Edith was born in 1919 as the daughter of Colburn Drake (1873-1944) and Mary Elizabeth “Sugar” (Thomasson) Drake (1887-1972), who were also buried in the large Drake family plot. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Jefferson Sylvanus Thomasson (1844-1939) and Rebecah “Becky” (Butler) Thomasson (1847-1915), who were buried near the Drakes.

Mary Elizabeth and Colburn Drake had the following children: Roy, b.&d. 1907; Kenneth Gird, b. 1908, d. 1976, m. Johnnie Bell Hart; Delano Cumi “Delana,” b. 1910, d. 2012, m. Hubert “Pug” Gillian; Clinton Woodrow, b. 1913, d. 1914; Theotis Odell, b. 1915, m. Mrs. Vernice (Neighbors) Williams; Edith Susannah, b. 1919, d. 2016, m. James Ridgley Grumbine; Collyer Emogene, b. 1921, m. William Allen Grider; Ollie Jo, b. 1924, m. Harold Edward Meeks; twin female infants, b.&d. 1927; Mary Charles, b. 1929, d. 1942; James Thomasson, b. 1930, d. 1934; and Rebecca Wyan, b.&d. 1935. Only two of the above are still living—Collyer Grider and Ollie Jo Meeks. Most of the others are buried near each other in the Drake plot. (It is touching to see the graves of several infants of this family in a long row in this location.) This family enjoyed gatherings at the Drake home place through the years for visits and special events and has only recently been sold it due to none of the family living near enough to maintain it. It has truly been a landmark for the community as well as the family.

In conclusion, the Veasey Cemetery is the resting place for numerous settlers of the area and descendants for several later generations. It is fortunate that it is as well maintained as it is even in a remote area and that area families continue to bury their loved ones in a cemetery with considerable history.

The brief sketch of the life and funeral service of the native daughter, Edith Susannah (Drake) Grumbine, will be outlined in next week’s column.

Sources for this writing included family records and two Publications, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976; and The Heritage History of Covington County, Alabama.

Anyone who might have additional information on the Veasey Cemetery or history of the Burnout community is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net. He is also requesting the names of families who resided along Possum Trot Road or and related history of it.