It all started with Ezekiel Lafayette Buffington.
Buffington was the first to annex land in Hall County and raised his nine children around the area that is now Gillsville Highway. Although he moved to Dahlonega for the gold rush and eventually settled in Elijay, many of his children and grandchildren stayed in the area and raised descendents who live around Gillsville today.
This week, they paid tribute to their roots.
More than 300 gathered at the Lebanon United Methodist Church campground for a camp meeting last week, and the group compiled more than $1,300 to buy a monument to replace faded headstones for one of the meeting’s founding members.
About two-thirds of the attendees are part of the Buffington family and wanted a readable nameplate for future generations to remember Walter Buffington, Ezekiel’s grandson. "We’ve been talking for quite a few years about getting Walter and (his wife) Emma a new monument before the older generation passes," said Gary Buffington, Walter’s great-grandson, who collected funds during the camp meeting. "I went to each cabin with a notepad and asked for a $25 donation. Some gave a $50, a few gave $100 and all at once we had all this money."
Gary Buffington purchased a monument from Gainesville Marble & Granite Co. to be installed next month.
"The headstone there is almost unreadable, and I think the new one will be nice," said Gwen Butterworth, a member of the Buffington family who wanted to raise funds for a monument several years ago.
"My children have other family members buried there also, and I have great-grandparents on both sides of the Buffington family there."
Walter Buffington farmed in the Gainesville area and moved around surrounding counties but remained committed to the camp meeting.
"At some point he (Walter) moved below Athens and came to camp meeting in a wagon every year, and he had to take his cows and chickens and everything," she said. "My tent there now has all the modern conveniences, a long cry from what I’m talking about with him. The family would stop at another church on the way and spend the night. To me, that is a fantastic story to come that far for camp meeting."