The village of Ellzey grew up in the last half of the 1800s around the intersection of the east-west Houston to Pittsboro road and the the north-south Atlanta to Reid road.
The Ellzey Cemetery was created a hundred yards or so east of that intersection with its main entrance on the east-west road.
There is a sign on the brick wall near the entrance to the cemetery that reads "Established 1860". Tim Cook, the current (2013) chairman of the Ellzey Cemetery Committee says that the original sign said "circa 1860" but that the "circa" was lost when the sign was renewed a few years ago. Even so, and Mr. Cook agrees, it is unlikely that this date is correct. There are twelve grave markers with a death date earlier than 1900, the ten oldest are shown here, and the earliest of these dates is 1884.
There are about 10 to 15 graves with no markers although some of them have sandstone rocks to mark their location, but it is unlikely that they date back as far as the 1860s. A more reasonable date for the establishment of the cemetery seems to be between 1875 and 1884.
Before there was an Ellzey Cemetery, there was a Blue family cemetery. Daniel Blue and his wife Mary and their family lived across the Atlanta-to-Reid road to the west and a few hundred yards south, and a family cemetery had been established close to their home where various members of the extended Blue family had been buried.
Daniel's daughter Sally had married T.W. Young and T.W. and Sally lived just north of Daniel. T.W.'s father, Thomas Jefferson Young, several infant Young children, and perhaps others had been buried in the Blue cemetery. By the early 1900s, however, members of this extended family were being buried in the Ellzey Cemetery.
The land where the Blue family cemetery was located changed hands several times. At one point it was owned by Mr. Dewitt Wright. For unknown reasons, Mr. Wright used a bulldozer to scrape the Blue cemetery flat and push whatever monuments had been there into the edge of the woods. It should be noted that this event occurred long before the current owners of this property bought it.
Years later, descendants of the Blue and Young families who had buried loved ones there located fragments of a few of these monuments and recovered most of the fragments from Daniel and Mary Blue's monuments. These were stored for a time and later, with the permission of the Ellzey Cemetery Committee, were reverently placed between T.W. and Sally Young's monuments in the Ellzey Cemetery.
Cemetery photo taken by Jim Young on Ellzey Memorial Day 2008
The Ellzey Cemetery is well maintained and lovingly decorated. Even after the Village of Ellzey declined drastically in population because of the move of people and stores to Vardaman during the first decade of the 1900s, people who had moved away continued to bury their families at Ellzey and continue to do so today.
A link to a complete listing of the graves in the cemetery as recorded by Tim Cook in 2002 and updated by him up until the time of it's posting on the Calhoun County Rootsweb web site is provided below as well as a link to the Find-A-Grave web site listing of the Ellzey Cemetery graves. This latter listing also includes photographs of some of the monuments. Listing of the Graves Listing of the Graves from Find-A-Grave
This continues to be an active cemetery and Mr. Cook maintains an accurate record of the burials here.
in the Ellzey Cemetery
Compiled December 2004
Listing of the Graves
Listing of the Graves from Find-A-Grave
As of 2004 there were 209 different surnames among the monuments in the cemetery, ranging (alphabetically) from Adams to Young.
At that time there were 39 monuments for members of the Griffin family, 34 for the Cook family, 26 for the Higginbotham family, 24 for the Alford family, 23 for the Duncan family, 22 for the Moore family, 21 for the Johnson family, 18 for the Parker family, 17 for the Young family, and 15 for the Barnette family. There are 63 surnames represented with only one monument. The link below contains the complete summary.
Listing of Monument Surnames
in the Ellzey Cemetery
Compiled December 2004
In the 2004 listing, many of the grave markers indicated military service: sixteen in the Civil War, one Korean War, ten World War I, forty World War II, three Vietnam, and four indicating branch of service but not a specific conflict.
Indicating Military Service
Compiled December 2004
The annual Ellzey Memorial has been held on the Second Sunday in May as long as anyone can remember. The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. It became a recognized holiday in the United States in 1914 with the second Sunday in May being so designated.
The Memorial was a major happening from its beginning. Even after moving south to Vardaman, the former Ellzey families would make the trip back to the cemetery to decorate the graves and enjoy the fellowship, homecoming, and family reunion time at Ellzey. Bob and Sally Young were two of those who had moved to Vardaman. Mrs. Young had set out a magnolia tree in the front yard of their new house there and their son, James Richard "Pete" Young, remembered having to climb up in the magnolia tree each year when he was a child to gather blossoms to help decorate the family graves at Ellzey. There were no flower shops, all the flowers and foliage for decorating the graves had to come from home flower beds and the woods.
The Ellzey Memorial traditionally honors both Mothers and the memory of those buried at the Ellzey Cemetery. Special care is taken by the Cemetery Committee to groom the cemetery for the occasion and families usually begin decorating graves the latter part of the week before the memorial.
The service is held in the Ellzey Chapel, a continuation of the Memorials held in Young's Chapel from 1881 through 1993. A committee is formed each year to plan the service and it includes singing, praying, speeches, taking up a collection, and a sermon. The pews are traditional: wooden, upright and hard. Sometimes the sermon is a bit more lengthy than is popular in most current church services but the building is air conditioned and the room is generally packed with people with Ellzey ties.
These photos were taken at the 2006 Ellzey Memorial
The famous Ellzey potluck "dinner on the ground" is served on the foundation slab of the last Young's Chapel building which now has a permanent awning to provide shade and shelter.
The path from the chapel is a convenient way to get from the cemetery to the chapel or to stroll in the cemetery before and after the memorial service. In the summer of 2013 improvements to the path were made and a campaign to place memorial bricks along the sides of the path was begun.
Sketch by Randy Yancy
New Hope Baptist Church
Table of Contents
Thanks to the
MSGenWeb Calhoun County Website
for a comprehensive listing of