Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at

Saturday, October 31, 2015



This a place where for nearly a half of a century these forgotten souls were lost.  Left to spend eternity alone, these banished people  have rested in peaceful obscurity in a broom straw field, secluded behind a water treatment plant, on the ridge of the swamp of Hunger and Hardship Creek. This weekend, the people of the City of Dublin will come together to recognize these nearly fifteen hundred departed persons and welcome them to their new and improved eternal resting place, which folks around here have been calling “’Cross The Creek” for more than a century now.

In the latter quarter of the 19th Century, few African Americans lived within the city limits of Dublin.  Most lived out in the county.  It wasn’t until 1895 when the City of Dublin purchased a tract of land on North Decatur Street from Mary Wolfe for a cemetery for African American residents in the neighborhood they still call Scottsville.

Within a decade, the Scottsville Cemetery, located across the street from the Second African Baptist Church, was deemed as too full to continue burials.    The city council agreed and began to seek out a new location for a cemetery.

Some strong resistance came from the citizens of the area north and west of the Scottsville neighborhood, proclaiming that if you (the city and its black residents) want a cemetery in this area, you are going to have to go across the creek.  The name stuck.  It is still with us today.

The City of Dublin, in 1906,   bought a tract from T.B. Hudson, some twenty-one acres, for the sum of $ 1576.00, a price slightly higher than the city had paid for Northview Cemetery some three years earlier.

By the end of 1906, the council required that all persons wishing to have loved ones buried in the cemetery obtain a permit from the city first.

Every five to ten years, there would be cries for help to clean up the unsightly and overgrown conditions.  Broken tombstones, collapsed slabs and vanished markers made any type of identification of those persons buried here virtually impossible.

Historian and former Laurens County Historical Society President Allen Thomas was among the first to bring the plight of the abandoned cemetery to light.  Thomas, looking at the overgrown six-acre site in 1994, observed the number of marked graves and estimated that 300 to 400 graves were located on the grounds.

 The cemetery itself may have never been saved without the efforts of Jimmy Sawyer, a city superintendent, who began working voluntarily there as a teenager  in the 1960s.  Sawyer cleared a virtual jungle of trees, briars and brambles to keep the area in a maintainable condition.  

Then came  the late Vernon Alligood, a member of the Laurens County Historical Society’s Cemetery Committee, who was the first to compile a list of the marked graves here.  With many of the marked graves having no readable inscription or no inscription at all, Alligood’s list was far from complete.

The missing key to the list of persons buried in ’Cross The Creek Cemetery was discovered just two years ago.  When City Cemetery Sexton Billy Mason was overseeing the renovations to Northview Cemetery on the other side of the creek, a small collection of brown paper covered books, printed with the words “Negro Cemetery” were discovered in the rear of a drawer of a desk bound for the dumpster.

The neatly compiled book contained the records of burials in the cemetery with names, dates of internment and the funeral home conducting the burials from 1927 to 1945.

Enter Billy and Loree Beacham, the leading local contributors to  the “Find-a-Grave” project in the country.

“I love genealogy. I know some of my friends think I am weird, since I enjoy visiting cemeteries. Those buried in cemeteries walked and lived as we do today. They must not be forgotten,” proclaims Loree, who has posted nearly 55,000 burials in the Central Georgia area.

Billy, her husband, gets in on the act too, taking more than 77,000 usable photographs of grave markers and cemeteries.

With Mason’s treasured list in hand, the Beachams set out to locate as many known burials as they can.   Using Internet resources,  including death certificates and the newly indexed issues of the Dublin Courier Herald available on at the Laurens County Library and the Dublin Laurens Museum, Billy and Loree have now documented 839 known burials in this hallowed ground.

Missing from the cemetery lists are burials from 1906 through 1926 and from the period from 1945 until Clara Page was the last known burial in November 1965, fifty years ago.  During that third of a century gap when no records exist, the actual number of burials could easily top 1500 or more, creating a difficult challenge to the determined duo to accomplish their goal of identifying as many graves as they can.

Without the establishment of a private cemetery by Dublin businessmen and funeral home owners, C.D.  and H.H. Dudley, the number of burials would be substantially more and the need for expansion would have been necessary many decades ago.

In 1932, when the Dudleys sought to establish a cemetery on his land at the head of North Washington and North Decatur Streets along East Mary Street, 77 residents of  the Mary Street area and Scottsville neighborhood protested the establishment of a private cemetery in their neighborhood.
At first,  the city and Dudley were restrained by a local judge from any more burials.  The court, in a complete reversal of its own order, allowed burials to commence by stating in essence, “Even the “darkies” of Dublin should not have to go ‘cross the creek to bury their dead.”

Beneath these sunken holes and weathered tombstones lie the mortal remains of fathers, mothers, and sadly way too many children.  There are masons, brick and the Free and Accepted ones too.  At least fourteen ministers of the Gospel left their mortal remains were on their way to Heaven.

They are the women who cooked our food, cleaned our houses and performed tasks that no one else could or would do.  They are the men who built our buildings, shined our shoes and taught our children.  There are seven men, so far as we know, who served our country in World Wars I and II.

Thank  you, Albert Coleman, 517th Engineers, U.S. Army; Fred Daniels, U.S. Army; Clarence Gilmore, 3 Bordeaux Gas Co., U.S. Army,  World War I;  Cleveland Poole, U.S. Army; Fred D. Bailey 3822 QM Trucking Co., U.S. Army,  WWII; Winfield Dell, Pvt. 10th Engineers, WWI; Morris Stanley, STM 1C, U.S. Navy, WWII and Ira Carswell, U.S. Army, WWI for serving our country.  And, a thank you to all of those who served and we don’t yet  know your names.

Here lie the bodies of Annie E.  Hurst and St. Clair McCormick  Shurney.  You don’t know their names.  But you do know Hurst’s grandson, six-time World Boxing Champion Sugar Ray Robinson, who grew up in Dublin and stood by her grave in 1948.    Mrs. Shurney died when her son was a small boy.  Without the benefit of high school diploma, Robert Shurney obtained a degree in physics from Tennessee State University as a prelude to his work as a N.A.S.A. physicist.  Dr. Shurney worked on balancing the Saturn V moon rockets, training astronauts in a simulated weightless environment, designed the tires for the Apollo lunar rovers, better methods of eating in space and the first permanent bathroom in a space craft.

Katie Dudley and Clayton Dudley once lied here too, .  They were the matriarch and patriarch of the Dudley family.  Their bodies were moved the family plot in the cemetery on the other side of the creek which bears their name.

Based on the information available, there are at least 50 persons in this graveyard who toiled in the hot, dirty fields and massive plantation houses as slaves. Emma Webster and Amanda Miller were children of one when they gained their freedom.  (See below for a current list)

Here is a great big hallelujah to William Horne, who was 55 years old when the Civil War ended and was buried here in 1925 at the reported age of 115.  And to Ms. Lucy Davis, a native of North Carolina and the oldest known woman to lie here.  She was 104 years young when she went to see her Lord.  And to Dicey McCall, who topped the century mark a year before her death in 1924.

And, to sweet little Margaret Price, whose death broke her parent’s hearts seven months after her birth.  Our tears go out to the families of the the hundreds of infants who never knew what living was.

And, finally to M.H. Hall, a man who died as he lived - a Christian.

And so it will be on this day, Sunday, November 1, 2015, that the lost, once banished souls of ‘Cross The Creek will come home now and forever.


William Horne - 1810-1925  (115 years old at death)
Lucy Davis - 1818 - 1922  (104 years old at death)
Dicey McCall - 1823 - 1924 (101 years old at death)
Boston Dixon - 1835 -1925
Bobbie Ann Harris - 1838- 1938
Thomas Williams - 1838 - 1925
Nicey Bess - 1840 - 1923
Melvin Ashley - 1840 - 1926
Reuben Fordham - 1841 - 1937
Louise Grubbs - 1841 - 1924
Love Reinhardt - 1845 - 1926
William Hunter - 1845 - 1930
Monroe Pilcher - 1848 - 1936
Lawrence West - 1848 - 1925
Margaret Yopp - 1848 - 1938
Mose Jones - 1849 - 1924
Casesar Brown - 1850 - 1936
Laura Williams - 1851 - 1926
Frank Yopp - 1851 - 1921
Lydia Hester - 1852 - 1922
Emma Alexander - 1853-1914
Calvin Knight - 1852 - 1927
Fibbie Guyton - 1855 - 1925
Butts Justice - 1855 -1929
Abraham Mackey - 1856 - 1924
Mary Phillips - 1856-1916
Henry Brown - 1857 - 1924
Catherine McBride Rivers - 1857 - 1928
Grant Smith - 1857 - 1931
Sarah Warthen - 1857 - 1925
Francis Hunter - 1858 - 1927
Maria Simms Wallace - 1858 - 1932
Bob Garrett - 1860 - 1923
Monroe Hall - 1860 - 1934
Jane Fordham - 1860 - 1935
George McCall - 1860 - 1920
Thomas Collins - 1861 - 1929
Nathan Jones - 1861 -1934
Lawyer Harris - 1861 - 1912
Ann  Turner Plummer - 1861 - 1923
Jessie Collins - 1862 - 1922
Guss Davis - 1862 - 1922
S.D. Deloach, Jr.  1862 - 1924
Haywood Gilbert - 1862 - 1938
Florence Amye - 1863-1912
Rachel Yopp Green - 1863 -1935
Eulalia Dixon - 1864 - 1941
Katie Ford Dudley - 1864-1931
Amanda Jones Miller - 1864 - 1926
Emma Webster - 1864 - 1926

Friday, October 30, 2015


The City of Dublin will re-dedicate the ’Cross The Creek Cemetery this Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p .m.   The city cemetery for African Americans has been virtually abandoned for the last half century.  Through a city wide effort, the 109-old-year-old cemetery has been stabilized and put back into a good condition.

The City of Dublin purchased the tract, which currently lies behind the city’s water treatment plant on Parker’s Dairy Road,  in 1906 when the city cemetery in the Scottsville neighborhood became overcrowded.  Burials for African Americans began in 1906.  The cemetery was the primary cemetery until H.H. Dudley established his private cemetery just down the street in the early 1930s.

The last known burial was conducted in 1965.  Since then, the cemetery was virtually abandoned except for the periodic mowing by the city under the direction of Sexton Billy Mason.

During the city’s bicentennial, the location of the cemetery was communicated to Councilwoman Julie Driger, by Scott Thompson, then President of the Laurens County Historical Society.    Driger began to organize volunteers to start the process to re-establish the cemetery to a condition worthy for those who rest there.

The joint effort has been composed of current and former council members, Julie Driger, Phil Thacker, Curtis Edwards and Gerald Smith, as well as county commissioner Roscoe Brewer and city manager Lance Jones.  Members of the City Wide Mission, a coalition of local churches, along with Historical Society members, Billy Beacham, Loree Beacham and Scott Thompson  have contributed to the project.   City engineer, Royce Hall, helped to supervise the construction of the project, including a handsome sign, flag pole, a newly paved road and parking area, and a sign which will
list the known persons buried in the cemetery.  In the near future, a history of the cemetery will be
placed on the marker.

The flag and flag pole at the entrance were donated by the members of the Dublin Exchange Club.

The re-dedication/ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at the cemetery located on Parker’s Dairy Road.   The entrance is located by the flag pole and sign just north of the water treatment plant.    The public is invited to attend the event, free of charge.

A tour of the cemetery will be available at the conclusion of the ceremony.




Frank and Neal were in love with the same woman.  After all, she was the kind of dame that any G.I. Joe could fall for.  Smart, blonde and beautiful, Donna was a great cook and knew how to feed her man.  Donna was a woman who knew what she wanted and knew how to get it. This is the story of how Donna got what she truly deserved in her all too short life.

The war was over and times were good again.   People were working and money was flowing.  In 1947, Frank, whose family operated a popular restaurant in town, met and fell in love with and married Donna, whose family owned a profitable produce company.  Donna went to work in the restaurant and charmed her customers, who came back over and over again.

Suddenly in the summer of 1951, as yet another war was raging in Korea, Frank became violently ill.  Frank sold the business.  Donna was fit to be tied that she wasn't informed of the move. Within her mind, she  vowed somehow to get what was rightfully hers.

 Frank, a veteran of World War II, was sent to the Veterans Administration hospital in Dublin, Georgia for treatment.  He began to show symptoms of the rhuematic fever which  he contracted  uring the war.  The doctors in Dublin were able to stabilize his debilitating condition and sent him back home for more treatment.  To Donna's delight, Frank was declared disabled.  Frank's  disability meant a monthly check.  Over the last few months, Frank had been drinking more and bringing home less.   Their marriage was headed on the fast highway to Nowheresville.   Seven months after Frank became ill, he died on January 25, 1952, apparently of encephalitis.  Back home, his mother and his two  young daughters, Marcia and Carla, cried.

During her widowhood, Donna moved in with her parents and went back to working in a restaurant, first as a waitress.  Nearly three years later, she bought Frank's place back.  Her dowry being recovered, Donna's restaurant became one of the city's most popular places to eat, especially for the men of business and the law.

Donna was living the high life -  made in the shade.   With lots of bread flowing in, Donna, dressed to the nines and  flirted with her male customers, who enjoyed her queenly presence as much,  if not more, than the food and drinks they paid for.

Then one day in the spring of 1955, a new man walked into Donna's life - not one of the local men she was rumored to be seeing outside of the diner, but a handsome pilot for Capitol Airlines who randomly wandered into the joint for some good eats.

Neal, also a veteran of the war, succumbed to Donna's charms and good looks.  The couple had a blast on an extended trip to the Southwest.  Just a short while later, they returned married, shocking their relatives, co-workers and friends.

By August, Neal entered a hospital for a minor operation on his wrist.  Neal suffered from a high fever and skins rashes all over his body.   After a brief improvement, Neal began to get sick a few days before Thanksgiving.   Donna took him to the V.A. Hospital in Dublin for a more complete diagnosis and better care.  The doctors tried to no avail to diagnose and treat his mysterious illness.

Donna, who religiously stayed by her dying husband's side,  became a widow for the second time on December 2, 1955.  When the V.A. doctor told Donna of Neal's death, she sat there with a cold, intense stare.  Considering the mysterious nature of Neal's death, the doctor asked Donna for permission to perform an autopsy on her husband.  Suddenly, Donna's tears and emotions began to flow from her crying eyes.  The frustrated physician left and no further investigation was made into what caused Neal's death.  A few days later, Donna sat emotionless during the funeral .

Donna returned home to live on Cloud Nine.  With the proceeds of Neal's life insurance, Donna bought a new set of wheels, gorgeous threads  and a proper pad .  She went back to what she did best, serving food with a smile and flirting with her male customers.

Donna invited Frank's mother, Julia,  to move in with her to help  take care of her children.   Frank's mother worked along side Donna in the restaurant.  Donna's new found affections for Julia were too phony.  It was all part of her selfish scheme.

In the summer of 1957, Julia became ill.  Donna played the role of the loving daughter-in-law.   Donna would bring a special plate of delicious goodies home to her mother-in- law, who learned to love and admire Donna.   Julia died.  Again, no specific cause of her death was established by the coroner.  They buried her next to her husband, Frank, Sr. and her son, Frank, Jr. in the Antioch Methodist Church cemetery outside of Cochran, Georgia.

Within a week, Donna petitioned the Court of Ordinary to probate the will of her dear mother-in-law, the substantial size of her estate was known only to a few, if anyone but Donna, who had repeatedly tried but failed to get Julia to write a will.   Once again, Donna and her two daughters were the beneficiaries of a family member's estate and insurance proceeds.

The people in Macon began to smell a rat when Marcia, the nine-year- old daughter of Frank and  Donna died a death similar to her father, step-father and grandmother.   Autopsy revealed that all of them had died not of natural causes, but from heavy dosages of arsenic.

When the police and sheriff's office  searched Donna's house, the detectives eyeballed arsenic loaded ant poison and a collection of voodoo items including candles, incantations and potions. The investigators knew they had their woman, dead to right.

Donna was arrested by the cops.  The D.A. charged her with four counts of murder.  You may know Donna by her full name, Anjette Donovan Lyles.

A trial was held in October 1958, some 57 autumns ago.  The widely  ballyhooed  trial created a sensation throughout Macon.   Accounts of the trial were published throughout the state and the nation.  Anjette's lawyer couldn't help her beat the rap.   The jury found her guilty of killing her  husbands Benjamin Frankling Lyles, Jr. and Joe Neal Gabbert as well as her mother-in-law, Julia Y. Lyles and most inexplicably of all, her young and innocent daughter Marcia.

In the tradition of the day, Judge Oscar Long  sentenced Anjette Lyles to death, a ruling which would have made her the first white woman ever executed in Georgia.    Gov. Ernest Vandiver, in order to appease those politicians who wanted to avoid the world-wide spectacle of the electrocution of a woman once known and beloved by so many Maconites, ordered the formation of a commission to study Anjette's mental capacity to understand the consequences of her action.  Vandiver commuted her sentence to life at the State Hospital in Millegeville.

For the last fourteen years of her life to her dying day  on December 4, 1977, Anjette Lyles endured the thoughts of those whom she had once loved but killed for a greater love, the love of money  She  is buried in her family plot in the Coleman Cemetery in Wadley, Georgia, next to her victims, daughter Marcia and husband Ben following Marcia's funeral.

And now you know, that two of Georgia's most infamous female serial killer's victims, Ben and Joe, were treated as patients at the VA Hospital here in Dublin.  Joe never made it back home.  Ben lived longer, only to  linger in excruciating anguish . As they breathed their last breath, they were still in love with her.  Both men died not only because of their wife's greed for more dough to impress the other fellows, but because they ate and drank  too much from the "Menu of Death."