Several weeks ago, I received an email from Mitchell Sawyer, who happened upon a post I had written in December 2008 about Kirkwood Cemetery in rural Madison County. According to Sawyer, he discovered the once hidden cemetery when he was searching for his Hemingway ancestors, who he believed to be buried there. After finding the cemetery in a neglected and overgrown state, Mr. Sawyer personally initiated a cleanup project.
Kirkwood Cemetery, Madison County
( St. Philip's Episcopal churchyard)\
Photograph by Mitchell Sawyer
In an email to me, Mr. Sawyer stated: "When I found the grave yard it was completely overgrown and hidden. I had a lot of encouragement and advice from the Ms. Dept. of Archives and History. After removing the “forest” I started some tombstone cleaning and very thankfully the Madison Co. Supervisors got in the act and erected a nice chain link fence. Unfortunately, this past summer it appears vandals toppled the Governor’s monument. The cemetery has gained the name, of course, from the McWillie plantation but the actual name is St. Philip’s Episcopal churchyard. The Episcopal church building stood to the left as you enter the cemetery; upon a small knoll."
Photographed by Mitchell Sawyer
April 17, 2007, after cleanup
As one who treasures the beauty and historical significance of our state's very old cemeteries, I want to thank Mr. Sawyer for his role in locating this cemetery, for clearing and removing the trees and brush, and for getting the Madison County Board of Supervisors involved. Through Mr. Sawyer's selfless efforts, descendants of those buried in Kirkwood Cemetery near where old St. Philip's Episcopal Church once stood, may now visit the graves of their ancestors.