The Col. William Candler Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution secured a lot in Gainesville’s Alta Vista Cemetery in 1926 to provide a place to memorialize the county’s citizens who fought in that war.
At the time, the bodies of Col. William Clark and his wife Ruth Goodwin Clark were removed from Cowan Cemetery near New Bridge Church to the triangular plot at Alta Vista. Later the grave of Beal Baker, another Revolutionary soldier, was located, and his body interred in the DAR lot. Those graves are the only ones in the lot.
Col. Clark fought with Price’s Company of Sevier’s North Carolina Regiment. Baker was a private who served in the South Carolina Militia in Armstrong’s Company of Malmedy’s North Carolina Regiment. He originally was buried in the Sardis area.
Another veteran, Jordan Holcombe, is buried in the Minor W. Brown plot in Alta Vista. His body along with others in the old Minor W. Brown cemetery in downtown Gainesville was removed to Alta Vista in 1929. Mrs. Minor Brown was his daughter.
The DAR has identified and marked a dozen graves of Revolutionary veterans. They include cemeteries in Dahlonega, Commerce and Hall County locations.
The DAR plans to improve and beautify the lot at Alta Vista working with the city and Hall County Master Gardeners. The organization has always been involved in beautifying Alta Vista in addition to maintaining its lot there.
The DAR’s minutes dating back to the 1920s reflect its interest in the cemetery. Its memorial fund purchased trees to line the main entrance to Alta Vista in 1921 in conjunction with the local United Daughters of Confederacy. Those trees were to honor World War I Hall County dead, whose names also were engraved on a marble boulder. At other times, shrubbery and flowers were planted, along with a flowering cherry tree dedicated to George Washington.
The Col. William Candler Chapter of DAR formed March 26, 1914, so it has a 100-year anniversary coming up year after next. Its namesake was born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1738. After marrying Elizabeth Anthony in 1761, they moved to Georgia and had several children.
Candler became deputy surveyor in 1771 and held other jobs that helped developed the new colony of Georgia. He served in the Revolutionary War under Col. Clarke, fought in Augusta, King’s Mountain and Blackstock. His oldest son, William, served in the war with his father
After the war, Candler served in the Georgia legislature and as a judge in Columbia County until his death in 1789.
Other Revolutionary War veterans whose graves have been identified and marked include John Whelchel, a private in the North Carolina militia; Thomas Burford Sr., originally buried near Light’s Ferry Road, but reinterred to New Bethany Baptist Church cemetery with the building of Buford Dam; John Inzer, Timber Ridge Baptist Church cemetery; John Black, family plot on Big Creek near the Chattahoochee River; James Hulsey, whose grave was reported about a mile and a half from Clark’s Bridge in the old Dewberry Cemetery; James Rylee Sr., who served with George Washington and is believed buried in the old Dewberry Cemetery; John Yarborough, an unmarked grave in Hopewell Baptist Cemetery; Henry Dobson, Yellow Creek Baptist Cemetery; Edwin Harrison, Sardis Baptist Cemetery; Benjamin Parks Sr., possibly Yellow Creek Cemetery; Benjamin West Sr., unlocated family plot; Arthur Crawford and James Gilmore Sr., graves unlocated.
The DAR also marked graves of Capt. Vincent Lockhart, a War of 1812 veteran, buried on a farm off Ga. 52 between Lula and Brookton; and Mrs. Digy Moore, wife of Samuel McCants, a War of 1812 veteran, Alta Vista Cemetery.
Late Hall County historian Sybil McRay wrote in 1976 that numerous other veterans of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 lived and died in Hall County and probably are buried in unmarked graves.
Helen Martin, DAR historian, says members continue to search for veterans’ graves. Some markers have disappeared. DAR members’ graves also are marked if requested. Besides considerable research, marking a grave must follow documentation and permission from the family and national organization.
In 2005, Helen took part in a ceremony to mark the grave of an ancestor, Judith Davis Welchel/Whelchel, widow of Revolutionary veteran Francis Welchel/Whelchel Jr. at Hopewell Methodist Church.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.