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Sign marks cemetery site, group's victory

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

MOULTON — Almost three years after the Lawrence County Historical Commission won a court fight to save a cemetery, the organization has placed a marker at the site.

The Peerson-McKelvey Cemetery on Court Street is one of the oldest in the city. Seven commission members petitioned the probate judge to define its boundaries in 2004.

The landowner challenged the petition, saying he should receive $25,000 for the cemetery.

A judge ruled against his claim, and earlier this year, the commission's Cemetery Committee agreed to place a marker at the site.

"I'm so thankful," said Peggy Goodlett, whose husband, David, has relatives buried in the cemetery.

"This is a big piece of Lawrence County's history, and it's definitely worth saving," she added.

The cemetery is about one-third of an acre. There is evidence that some of the graves were lost when dirt near the site was used to construct a Wal-Mart shopping center in the late 1970s. Human bone fragments and clay liners used in early caskets can be found outside the boundaries of the cemetery.

"We've all heard stories about graves being destroyed," said Goodlett, who is a member of the Historical Commission.

Before the court battle, historian Lisa Lentz spent almost a year identifying the burials in the cemetery and unearthing evidence that graves were destroyed.

Her effort prompted the commission to petition the probate judge to save the cemetery.

The oldest burial Lentz identified was that of Lydia A. Wert. Born Aug. 16, 1842, the daughter of Michael Wert and Ester Caroline Cowan Wert, she died on May 17, 1844.


While she couldn't find absolute documentation, in 2003 Lentz said evidence supports her theory that the cemetery is affiliated with the early Methodist Church in Moulton.

She said most of the families buried there, especially the McKelveys, were part of the Methodist Church.

Peerson was added to the cemetery name because the Sherwood Peerson family owned the cemetery property for years.

The cemetery, which is about one-half mile east of Moulton, has three marked Goodlett graves. Peggy and David Goodlett know there are more Goodletts buried in the cemetery.

They said homemade bricks once covered some of the graves.

"My family came to Lawrence County in a wagon train from South Carolina in the 1830s," David Goodlett said. "I don't know why, but we have been here ever since."

Two of the Goodletts, Waddy and David Johnson, have Confederate markers. Waddy Goodlett, who was a second lieutenant in Company H of the 35th Alabama Infantry, died on June 10, 1862, following the Battle of Shiloh.

David Johnson Goodlett joined the Alabama Militia and died May 12, 1878.

"After the war, they farmed and lived about a mile from here," Peggy Goodlett said.

Lawrence County Archivist Myra Borden and her assistant, Molly Barrett, drafted the language on the marker.

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