Volunteers spruce up Brockett Cemetery

By Christine Miyawa
Delta Digital News Service

Organizers called off the annual Brockett Cemetery Fall Cleanup Day after a morning downpour interfered with the cleaning.

Volunteers showed up at the cemetery to mow, arrange displaced tombstones, pick up leaves and cut off dry tree branches, but began to leave when rain arrived. The rain, which started as a drizzle before they arrived, continued for the better part of the morning hours.

Lyda Davidson, secretary of the Brockett Cemetery committee, said,

“We couldn’t stay with this rain and you know, coronavirus, we don’t want anyone catching the virus in this weather, we had to call it off.”

Trent Ingram, a member of the committee, said the cleaning event takes place annually.

“Most people who show up volunteer their services,” he said.

The majority of the volunteers buried their families at the Brockett Cemetery.

Five generations of Davidson’s family lay buried there, starting with her great-great-grandfather Jasper B. Penn, born in 1841, having died in 1925. Penn served during the Civil War in the Confederacy as a postmaster. She said the late Penn delivered mail on horseback and wagons.

Not too far from her great-great-grandfather, lay the tombstone of her great-grandfather Solomon Steven Mack and his wife, Barbara Mack.

Next to their grave, her grandfather and grandmother Aaron O. Mack and Ollie F. Mack, behind them, her grandfather’s brother John Adams Mack and his sister Carrie E. Milam.

Then her grandfather, Robert H. Milam and wife, Sara E. Milam, her father Alvin Andrew Milam and mother Eula Mack- Milam’s tombstone lay beside each other on one long black and grey marble stone a little distance away.

Her uncle and aunt lay behind her parents. Her late brother- in- law’s tombstone lay next to her sister’s, who is still alive. And many other family members.

“This cemetery is like home for me. When I’m here, I feel peace,” she said.

In 2015 after her brother-in-law died, Davidson bought a tombstone for herself. A mixture of pink and black marble the size of three soccer balls combined.  The marble rock, neatly cut on the engraved side and rough on the other side, bore her birthdate and engraved motto on the stone which read,

“Death is swallowed up in victory,1 Corinthians 15:54.”

At 75 years old, Davidson said she does not fear death.

“Death is not a lasting thing. We live on. For Christians, it’s a happy feeling,” she said.

Each generation of her family took care of the Brockett Cemetery. They would carry their lunch to work, take breaks to eat and go back to work until they completed the job.

“Sometimes people move the tombstones away to the road nearby, and these rocks are markers. We pick them up during cleaning and return them to their proper positions. We keep this place up to preserve our genealogy, for anyone interested in genealogy, this is a good way to preserve it,” she said, as she pushed out of the way into a stockpile cut weeds from a gravesite.

The weed is called “pork salad”, she pointed. It grows a lot here, and I like it; it’s edible. In the olden days, people used their black seeds as a dye for clothes and ink for writing.

The original name of the Brockett Cemetery was Knotts Cemetery, named after the late Joseph L. Knotts.

Knotts donated the piece of land for burial. Many of his family’s tombstones lie on the cemetery along a line, each bearing the name Knotts, young and old.

The name later changed to Brockett, the name of the community at the location of the cemetery.

Every year, they organize for clean-up in March and in October weather permitting. Volunteers show up from various states.

She said they also get donations from people and use the funds to hire for help in cutting grass and dry tree branches at the cemetery when they cannot find volunteers.

Davidson said they also sponsor community members not able to afford burial sites or tombstones.

“Anyone can be buried at the Brockett Cemetery,” she said.

Davidson says she believes at least three more fresh graves came in 2020. So far, 400 people call Brocket Cemetery their permanent home, even in death.

Davidson said the committee meets twice a year, and they have not come up with a new day to reschedule the clean-up after the rain sabotaged their plans.

She said people could find their contacts at the local funeral homes in Randolph County and neighboring towns.