Local UDC chapter begins Confederate grave-identification effort with success

HILHAM-With the recent discovery of the grave of their namesake here, the local William Wesley Elam Chapter #2557 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) have successfully begun their effort to locate all Confederate soldiers’ graves in Clay County in order to ensure their preservation.

“We are in the process of trying to locate as many as possible,” local UDC chapter member Mary Loyd Reneau said.  “We want to make sure they are all marked and preserved for years to come.”

She said Elam’s grave was found in the Fisk Cemetery located on Old Standing Stone Road here, which extends east off of State Highway 85 just north of the Hilham School–which was originally the Fisk Female Academy established around the year 1800.

Reneau said Elam, who was a private in Company D of the 8th Tennessee Infantry of the Army of the Confederate States of America, was born in Overton County on December 3, 1841 and the tombstone shows his date of death as July 19, 1924.

The work of the local UDC chapter coincides with the state’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States that began with an inaugural event attended by Reneau and other locals late last year.

“Tennessee ranks second only to Virginia in the number of battles that occurred within one state,” Reneau said.  “There was at least one battle or skirmish in each of the 95 counties that brought destruction to our landscapes, and that’s why our work is so important.

“We are trying to preserve history that could very well be forgotten.”

Many events will be held this year locally and all across the state in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War as the sesquicentennial is celebrated.

Celina has also become a stop on the state’s Civil War trail with the placement of a plaque on the east side of the courthouse square recounting the city’s involvement in the conflict.

“We hope people will join us in this celebration by reading the information provided in town and maybe helping us in our work towards identifying these graves,” Reneau said.  “If anyone knows of the whereabouts of any of these soldiers’ graves or has a relative who fought in a battle, we want to hear from them.”

The local UDC chapter was chartered at the courthouse in Celina on August 21, 1990 with 13 original charter members.  For more information about the chapter or to notify them of any information pertaining to their grave identification effort, contact Reneau at 256-509-18121 or Elizabeth Burch at 931-243-2899.