The course LBAR 3910: Practicum in Liberal Arts introduces students to democratic citizenship through readings and experiences related to the rural South, especially the region of Appalachia. Experiences include a week of living and learning at the Clearfork Community Institute in Eagan, TN, and a cemetery mapping project in rural Macon County with members of the Creek Stand AME Zion Church. Students in the 2013 course include Zoe Davis, Gabrielle Lamplaugh, Lindsay Steelman, Donna Tosh, and Taryn Wilson.
On Thursday, January 24, we documented all of the graves at the Creek Stand AME Zion Church. The church was established in 1894, and the cemetery is one of two cemeteries on the historic register for Alabama, thanks to the work of volunteer Shari Williams. The original church building sat in the middle of the property with graves on either side.
Students created a map for an assigned section and photographed all of the headstones. Many of the graves are without headstones, unfortunately, not an uncommon situation for older cemeteries. As the historic marker notes, numerous unmarked graves are on the property. In one area of trees and brush, a single headstone stands a reminder of the many individuals who lie beneath the soil.
Thanks to the recommendation of Lee Anne Wofford of the Alabama Historical Commission, we purchased some blue gravestone rubbing paper, and we followed her instructions to perform a rubbing using tennis balls. As if revealing invisible ink, we were amazed to read the inscription: “In memory of BEEDIE – Wife of M. Pace – Born 1852. Died November 7, 1902. She was too good too gentle and fair. To dwell in this cold world of care.” We will consult with Shari Williams and others, as well as the census records where she is recorded, to learn more about Beedie Pace and her life—born as a slave who lived through emancipation, reconstruction, and other important changes in the rural economy at the end of the 19th century.