In 1836, many men marched away from their families and homesteads to fight in the Second Seminole War raging in Florida. One of those men was Curtis C. Hutcheson.
Little is known about Hutcheson’s service, but he was discharged from military services about two years later. The 24-year-old returned home to Lumpkin County and married Verlinna Deadmon on Jan. 17, 1838.
Nine years later, Curtis died. His grieving widow moved to be closer to her family and had her husband buried at the old Auraria Cemetery, with only a boxwood to mark his grave.
When Verlinna died 51 years later, she was laid to rest next to her husband. And while her grave was marked, Curtis’ grave lay bare for the next 117 years.
One of Curtis Hutcheson’s descendants, Andrew “Andy” Washington Hutcheson, remembered the stories about his great-great-grandfather’s burial plot that was lacking a marker. It was a story passed down through the years. Knowing his ancestor left behind a legacy of military heritage, Andy Hutcheson decided to correct the oversight.
“I was sad that a grave could be forgotten in a service country,” Hutcheson said. “I hated that his grave wasn’t marked.”
The Army veteran reached out to Lumpkin County historian Jimmy E. Anderson to help in his quest to properly mark his great-great-grandfather’s grave with a military headstone.
“When Jimmy said you could get him a stone, I said, ‘You are kidding me,’” Hutcheson said. “He got on with the Program of Progress and next thing you know, we have a stone up for him.”
Previously, men who fought in the early wars of the United States were not eligible for a military grave marker. Anderson explained the rules had changed, allowing those who served in the Indian wars such as Curtis Hutcheson to receive a military headstone.
“If it hadn’t been for Jimmy, that marker would have never been set,” Andy Hutcheson said.
Proud of his lineage, Hutcheson hopes future generations will remember those who served before them, earning the recognition the grave marker provides.
“There’s not many people left to remember who he was or where he’s buried. Someone had to do it or it’d never get done,” Anderson said.
Helping veterans receive the recognition of service they deserve is nothing new for the historian. He has assisted families of more than 200 veterans in the past 30 years.
“I’ve just always felt very strongly that someone, especially a veteran that has served their country, deserves more than to be buried out in the cemetery, put in the ground and forgotten about,” he said.
Therefore, Anderson was determined to see Curtis Hutcheson receive a proper military grave marker. The unexpected surprise was learning Anderson’s three sons were descendants of Curtis. He remembers talking with his ex-wife’s family members, three of Curtis’ four surviving grandchildren and being inspired by their stories.
Watching his own son play in the yard, it was those conversations that prompted his interest in genealogy and preserving the past.
“This particular (grave) had been unmarked for several years,” Anderson said. “He’s an ancestor of my sons and my grandchildren. So I just thought it was time to do something about it. I’m not getting any younger.”
Together, Anderson and Andy Hutcheson compiled the required information for the Department of Veterans Affairs to qualify for a free marker, which would note Curtis’ service.
“I had a file on the Hutcheson family,” Anderson said. “I was able to come up with the information that the VA needed to qualify for a marker, and in less than 30 days a marker showed up.”
Finally, 168 years after his death, Curtis Hutcheson’s plot was marked with a pristine white gravestone next to his wife. It stated his birth year, his death date and his service with the Georgia Militia in the Indian Wars.
“Now they have stones beside each other,” Anderson said. “She wanted to be buried beside him; thought someone would mark his grave. Finally they did, it just took a long time.”
Thanks to the living descendants who remembered the story of Curtis and his wife, Verlinna, the legacy will live on for generations to come.
“Curtis was the pillar of that family, so I thought he deserved recognition,” Anderson said. “Every time I mark a veteran’s grave, it gives me a good feeling.”
The Hutcheson family plans to hold a formal unveiling of the newly erected grave marker in the near future for Curtis Hutcheson’s family and the community.
“I’m just proud that he was my ancestor, and he served his country,” Andy Hutcheson said.
For more information on obtaining a headstone or marker for a deceased veteran, visit www.cem.va.gov/hmm.