Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

George Washington Gunter, Founder and Donor of LaGrange Cemetery

The inscription on George Washington Gunter's grave stone, located in the Sherwood Community of Choctaw County, Mississippi states "founder and donor of LaGrange Cemetery." Born on January 3, 1820 in Tennessee, Mr. Gunter died on August 22, 1882.

In 1830, Allen Gunter, a resident of Covington County, was the only head of household with the surname of Gunter enumerated on the U. S. Census taken in Mississippi that year. Ten years later, eight individuals named "Gunter" were counted in the 1840 census, including "Larkin Gunter," who resided in Choctaw County.
But by 1850, thirty-three individuals with this surname, according to the U. S. Census of 1850, were living in Mississippi in Amite, Attala, Desoto, Madison, Smith and Tippah counties. One of these individuals, George W. Gunter, was enumerated in Attala County.

Although I first believed this to be George Washington Gunter, whose gravestone appears above, and the subject of my research, I later found there were actually two men named George W. Gunter who lived in Mississippi during the mid-1800s. According to the census record, the man who lived in Attala County was born in South Carolina, while George Washington Gunter, buried in Choctaw County, was born in Tennessee. Ironically, the two men were almost the same age, which made research and examination of ceInsus records quite confusing.

According to the U. S. Census of 1850, taken in the Southern District of Pickens County, Alabama, G. W. Gunter, buried in Choctaw County, was 29 years old and had been born in Tennessee. He headed a household that included his Alabama-born wife, Amanda, age 27, and their four children. Also living in the household was George's mother, Sarah Gunter, age 66, born in Virginia. The children's names and ages were Mary F., 9; Claborn H., 7; Louisa J., 2, and Andrew J., 1 year old.

By 1858, the Gunter family was living in Choctaw County, Mississippi, since the gravestone of Sarah Gunter, George's mother, shows that she died in the fall of that year.

Sarah, wife of J. L. Gunter
Mother of George Washington Gunter

Two months to the day later, George lost his wife, Amanda. Sarah and Amanda are both buried in LaGrange Cemetery in Choctaw County

Since George Gunter was a widower with young children, he remarried very soon. By August of 1860, when the U. S. Census was taken in Choctaw County, his household in Township 19 included Catharine, a 23-year old female, shown on the census as "house mistress." George was shown as 39 years old, with a birth place of Tennessee. His occupation was shown as "farmer and merchant," and the value of his real estate and personal property totaled almost $7,000. According to the census, the family received mail at the Greensboro post office. It is likely that Catharine was a young widow when she married George, since their household in 1860 included a total of 8 children, whose names and ages were Wiley, 17; William, 15, Louisa, 13; Andrew J., 11; Maderia, 9; Martha, 7; Isalena, 4; and Eveline, 3 years old.

Ten years later, George was enumerated in the U. S. Census of 1870 as a 50-year old white male, living in the community of Pidgeon's Roost. His Mississippi-born wife, Catherine Gunter, as she had been shown on the 1860 census, was now shown as "Mary C. Gunter." Thirty-three years old by then, Mary Catherine Gunter had given birth to three children between 1860 and 1870. Their names and ages were shown on the census record as John L., 9, George A., 6, and Sarah E., age 2.

In 1880, George Gunter was shown on the U. S. Census in Beat 2 of Choctaw County, and his occupation was "dry goods merchant." His family had continued to grow, since Mary Catherine had given birth to four more children born between 1870 and 1880. The youngest children's names and ages were Felica E., 9, Joseph T., 7, Pearl H., 4, and Battler B., 8 months.

Just two years later, George Washington Gunter, died. I have been unable to find the final resting place of Mary Catharine Gunter. Since she still had young children when her husband died, it is possible that she married again.

Not only was George Washington Gunter the Founder and Donor of LaGrange Cemetery, if I have counted correctly, he was the father of 17 children.

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