Confederate burial ceremony revived

Published 10:12am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

After a few mishaps and wrong turns, I was able to find Mason Cemetery, located off U.S. 29, on Sunday afternoon where a large group of people had gathered to honor Jacob Lewis McGowin, who died June 14, 1899 in Hattisburg, Miss.
I had been contacted several weeks ago by Keiron McGowin, great-great-grandson of Jacob McGowin.
Some of you may remember that I have told the story of the McGowin brothers who all signed up to fight with the Confederacy during the Civil War, (or as some Southerners still refer to as, the War of Northern Aggression).
These were all the sons of Samuel McGowin and Martha Mason. Before the war, according to Mrs. Waters’ book, there were eight sons. They were Peter, Alex, Samuel, James, Joseph, Anthony Lewis, John Charnic and Thomas. Only Alex and James were left alive at the end of the war.
Samuel McGowin (1805-1892) had a brother, Anthony McGowin, who was the ancestor of Jacob Lewis McGowin, was the one the dedication on Sunday was for.
Donald Keiron McGowin worked for almost a year, bringing together the ceremony held at Mason Cemetery on Sunday.
Along with many descendants of the McGowins there were several Civil War re-enactors who drove from Louisiana and Mississippi in order to attend the ceremony and they represented Co. C, 15th Confederate Cavalry. They brought with them battle flags and company flags to line the cemetery. They wore vintage uniforms from the period and carried guns that were also authentic.
One soldier was wearing a long coat that was violet colored. I asked him why the bright color and told him that he would have made a great target in the war. He said the coat was so colored because a man with the name of Violet paid for the uniforms and in his honor the soldiers of the company wore the violet colors.
I must tell you about another very interesting fellow that attended the ceremony.
He is the grandson of Alex McGowin who lived in Brewton, had a huge home that stood where the main BankTrust now stands. He was president of the Bank of Brewton for a number of years.
The man, whose name is Francis McGowin, was dressed in a long white coat. He had white hair, white beard and white mustache. He looked for all the world like Col. Sanders. I heard him talking and to begin with I thought he was taking on the persona of a Cofederate soldier.
I heard enough to know that he must be a very interesting person. It’s too bad he is not from around here. I would have loved to listen to him tell his tales.
After the way things started, the day turned out to be nice. The ride out to Mason Cemetery included sights of deer running along the side of the road, and fields and fields of cotton that makes them look as if they are covered in snow.
I hope that you will take the time to look back at our history and discover things you never knew about our heritage, our country and even our communities.
This trip was wonderful and watching the events of the day was certainly a treat. It’s a shame that more of these kinds of ceremonies don’t take place in our area. The chance to remember how we got to be where we are today is something many of our young people will never get to experience. Many of the customs of days gone by are lost as the older among us die and take those memories with them.
If you have the opportunity to share a bit of history with a young person, I encourage you to do it every chance you get. History, if presented in the right way, can be a wonderfully exciting learning experience for young and old alike.
I plan to continue my work in remembering our past through columns in this space in the future.
If you have a particular part of history you would like to see in this space, give me a call or drop my a line. I’m always intrested in digging up information on items of interest for my readers. Give me a call at 867-4876, or drop me a line by email at lydia.grimes@brewtonstandard.com.

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