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Oglesby Cemetery

Submitted by Terry Oglesby, January 2009

In response to the following description of Oglesby Cemetery formerly posted on the Cemetery Index page, Mr. Terry Oglesby offers the following facts disputing information that appears in several publications claiming Sabert Oglesby was the owner of this property and an owner of slaves.:

Oglesby Cemetery aka Oglesby Plantation Cemetery, (approx 400 unmarked graves for slaves of Sabert Oglesby) [Source: “Historical Atlas of Alabama, v. 2, Cemetery Locations by County"]


I am writing to request a correction or clarification of an entry on the Bibb County Genealogical Research website, specifically the entry listed as "Oglesby Plantation Cemetery."

Although the Historical Atlas of Alabama, Volume II lists Sabert Oglesby II (1809-1899) as the owner of this property, and although the bibliographic record of the Atlas lists Rhoda Coleman Ellison's Place Names of Bibb County, printed in 1993 for the Cahaba Trace Commission as its reference, and although Place Names in turn lists a Fall 1991 edition of the Tannehill Blast park newsletter as a reference, due to recent information gathered by Mr. Charles Adams in conversation with Mr. Marty Everse, recently retired as the park director of Tannehill, I believe the original references in the Tannehill Blast to be in error. In addition, I believe that information from census and land patent information, as well as Oglesby oral family history, further strengthens the contention that the original published reference is in error.

To begin, the Oglesby land at Tannehill purported to contain the slave cemetery was a 40+/- acre tract that was first patented to a George Oglesberry in 1858. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/Image.asp?PatentDocClassCode=STA&Accession=AL2840%5F%5F%2E170&Format=PDF&Page=1&QryID=33248%2E05&Index=1 (Bureau of Land Management link to copy of original document)

George Oglesberry was also granted patents to an additional, adjacent 80 +/- acres in Jefferson County on the same date. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/Image.asp?PatentDocClassCode=STA&Accession=AL2900%5F%5F%2E391&Format=PDF&Page=1&Index=2&QryID=33248%2E05

George Oglesberry is more than likely the same George Oglesb(err)y who was Sabert Oglesby II's older brother. (Census records and even information in the family Bible from this time record several spelling variants of Oglesby, including Oglesberry)

Although it is possible Sabert II bought it from George at a later date, this parcel of land is several miles away from the other lands Sabert II and his immediate family owned in the county. Sabert II was also granted a patent of land in 1858, in the area now bisected by Eastern Valley Road and Hickman Chapel Road, adjacent to a couple of 40 acre parcels owned by Joseph Oglesb(err)y. The 1860 Census lists Sabert as living with 10 other family members, with a land value of $700 and a personal estate of $975. No slaves listed as living with them in the household, and again, a very poor (relatively speaking) amount of estate for someone if they DID own slaves. Absent some later deed information, it seems hard to believe this land was Sabert's during the period 1858-1865.

Second, several tracts along that northern tier of land along the county line was patented in 1858, and Moses Stroup and Ninnian Tannehill had several tracts between them that would have been a portion of the land for their furnace works. George Oglesb(err)y's holdings were small compared to others in the area, and given that he was only patented the land in 1858, it seemed inconceivable to me that he could have amassed a quantity of slaves to fill four hundred graves in the time between 1858 and 1865.

I believe this is borne out by the recent conversation Mr. Adams has had with Mr. Everse. According to Mr. Adams, Mr. Everse related that the total number of workers (including any slaves) at Tannehill probably was around 400, based on the knowledge that it took 600 workers to keep the Brierfield enterprise operating.

Again, according to Mr. Everse's conversation with Mr. Adams, the total number of workers was erroneously transferred to the small cemetery on what was once Oglesby property. Mr. Everse's conversation with Mr. Adams indicated that when Tannehill was being proposed as a possible park development, the inclusion of purported slave graves in the park was seen as way to garner attention for the development, and Mr. Everse believed the incorrect identification of 400 graves goes back to James E. Walker, a local amateur historian (now deceased) who lived in or near McCalla.

Although there is quite sufficient information to say a number of slaves did work the furnaces during this time period, there is insufficient evidence to say that all unmarked graves--regardless of the number actually extant--were those of slaves. Unmarked graves are just that, unmarked, and could have belonged to poor freemen who worked the furnaces, as well as slaves. Further, they at one time could have been marked, and those markers either disturbed or removed over the intervening 140 years.

Now that Mr. Walker is deceased, it is difficult to determine how he came by his information, but I believe whatever the source of his original information, it was of dubious utility.

My own conjecture of how this land became misidentified is that since it had been Oglesby land at one time, and since "Sabert" (the original who fought in the Revolution, his son Sabert the II, his son Sabert Galveston, then his son Sabert IV) was a common (or at least distinctive) name of the Bibb County Oglesbys, and somehow over the years "Sabert" is the name became associated with the property. I do know that my grandfather, Reid Ferguson Oglesby (now deceased), who was one of the grandsons of Sabert II stated on several occasions that none of his immediate lineage were ever slaveholders, and again, there are to date no indications from the 1840, 1850, or 1860 Censuses that contradict his recollections.

To conclude, the land at Tannehill identified as the Oglesby Plantation Cemetery,

a) was originally patented to George Oglesb(err)y in 1858;

b) there are no indications from local or Federal goverment records found to date that indicate Sabert Oglesby II owned the property from when it was patented to George in 1858 until the end of the Civil War in 1865, or at any later time;

c) there are no indications from local or Federal goverment records found to date that indicate Sabert Oglesby II owned any slaves;

d) oral family history contradicts the idea that Sabert Oglesby II ever owned slaves;

e) conversational information from the immediate past park director of Tannehill, Mr. Marty Everse, indicates that the original source for the claim that this land belonged to Sabert Oglesby II can be traced no further than local historian Mr. James Walker, who also misidentified the number of graves in the cemetery.

Given this information, it seems reasonable to request that the entry for the Oglesby cemetery be amended to at least acknowledge that the land in question was initially patented to George Oglesb(err)y, not Sabert II, and that no government records have been produced to date to indicate that Sabert Oglesby II ever held the land, nor that he was a slaveholder. Further, it seems prudent to indicate that the actual number of gravesites has not been independently verified, and that the number may have been conflated with the total number of workers at the furnaces.

Thank you so much for your patience in reviewing this information and your willingness to consider this request.  I hope that if you have any questions you will not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully yours,
Terry Oglesby

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