I remember going to the cemetery – Clopton Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida – a few times with my maternal grandmother, Willie Stevens Cook. Clopton is near a church, but it’s not affiliated with that church. My mother is still in touch with members of the Clopton family.
Willie’s parents, Billie Stevens and Mollie Pittman are buried at Clopton, in the same plot as their youngest child, Nellie Stevens Nobles, and Mollie’s brother, Thomas E. Pittman. Sometimes when I was visiting Mam-ma, and we would drive into town from where they lived in Midway (a little past the city of Gulf Breeze, Florida), we would go to the cemetery and clean up the plot, removing leaves or pine straw and pulling weeds. I’ve been with my mom a few times, too, usually around Christmas to put out some fresh flowers for the holidays. Now, we usually stop by a different plot, too, where Mollie and Tom’s brother Medrick and his wife Maggie Oglesby are buried.
Those Christmas rounds, take us to Barrancas National Cemetery, where my dad is buried, and to Bayview Park, where Mam-ma and Pap-pa (Hoyt Cook) are interred. They chose a plot in the front of the cemetery, near Scenic Highway. Across the street are the bluffs, and beyond that Escambia Bay. Several of Pap-pa’s siblings are buried there – Horace Cook and Nell Wise, and their twin grandbabies that died at birth; Bonnie Cook and Thomas Holland, and more recently their son David. Most of the family is farther back in the cemetery, in an area with what I call “proper headstones” instead of just flat brass plates. Pap-pa said he chose the “new” area up front because of that view of the water; he was an avid fisherman, and he always said he wanted to be able to watch the mullet jump from his final resting place.
More of the Cook family – some other siblings and their parents Arthur Thomas Cook and Dorcas Elizabeth “Dollie” Allison Cook – are buried at Walnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Escambia County, Florida. Dollie attended church at Annie Jones United Methodist Church, but that church doesn’t have its own graveyard. It is a family tradition that my mother, Zenova Cook Hahn, carries on that Cook descendants attend the homecoming services and dinner at Annie Jones. I have driven her several times in more recent years, although not in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she calls to remind her cousins when it’s coming up. The Cooks often take up a collection to purchase something for the church, such as pews or stained glass windows. While we are in the neighborhood, we always go by the cemetery and put out new arrangements.
My Hahn grandparents, Charles Theodore Hahn and Malzie Elizabeth Silcox, are buried at the Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery in Beulah, Escambia County, Florida. It’s right down the road and around the corner from where their house was. Charlie’s parents, Theodore Hahn and Maggie Cooper are buried there, as are several other Hahns and Silcoxes.
I didn’t know until recently that Theodore’s parents, my great-great grandparents, William F. Hahn and Ary Loper were buried at a historic cemetery in Pensacola. St. John’s Cemetery was established in 1876. Theodore’s brother George Herman Hahn and his wife are buried there as well. Since we found out about those graves, my mother and I have added them to our Christmas rounds for flowers.
Five churches and I’m not sure off the top of my head exactly how many graves, makes for a long day and a lot of flowers. It’s a good feeling to know that others passing through those cemeteries will see that my family members are not forgotten, and I like to think that those who’ve gone before also know when we are talking about them and putting out the new arrangements.
For more information on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, visit the website of genealogist Amy Johnson Crow.