“This is fun,” said Padgett. “We have learned more about the county’s history.”
The two men took a cemetery identification course in Rome sponsored by the Georgia Cemetery Association.
“It set David and I ablaze,” Padgett said.
Mitchell and Padgett have been using Global Positioning Systems on loan from the Gordon County IT department. The men mark the cemeteries or grave sites’ coordinates and then record them in a special binder. The information will later be compiled and put into a system for the county development office.
“If someone comes along years from now and wants to develop, this will be a factor. Someone could destroy a grave and not know,” Padgett said.
So far the historic commission has identified 83 graves in the county, including some very old unmarked graves located on private property.
But Padgett said the program is not for future development alone.
“The second reason is graveyards are a porthole to history,” Padgett said.
As a part of the project Mitchell and Padgett are also compiling locations, directions and dates of graves to be used in tourism projects. With historic tourism being such a large part of the tourism market today, Padgett hopes Gordon County will get a slice of the tourism pie.
“With projects like this we can draw in more people,” he said.
The historic commission has put countless man-hours into this project, but Padgett said it has also been fun.
“Between David and I, we can usually find just what we’re looking for,” he said. “Sometimes it is like a jigsaw puzzle.”
Mitchell said that by reading obituaries, he and Padgett have also discovered little communities within Gordon County that existed during the Civil War era.
“There was a little town named Igo,” said Mitchell. “It was on what is now US 411 between Ranger and Fairmount.”
They have also discovered just how deeply ingrained the Cherokee Indians were before their removal during the 1830’s. One private property in Gordon County contained several Indian graves in a makeshift hilltop cemetery.
But the project is not just limited to old and historical graves, Mitchell and Padgett are marking modern cemeteries as well.
“You never know,” Padgett said. “In 100 years a church could move or burn down, and you want to have a record.”
The project is ongoing, as new graves are discovered the historic commission will mark them. Both Mitchell and Padgett are asking members of the community to inform them of any graves on private property by calling Padgett at 706-602-1864 or Mitchell at 706-629-2413. Mitchell can also be reached through email at email@example.com.
“We need something to preserve Gordon County history,” Mitchell said. “This is an old history that youngsters need to know about. “