Column: The ceremony will mark the relocation of graves to the Alta Vista cemetery
The Thompson family were finally laid to rest last year, their cemetery moved for the second time.
The Thompson were pioneer settlers of Hall County, and their name remains important today on Thompson Bridge, Thompson Bridge Road, and Thompson Mill Road on US Route 129 north of Gainesville.
The original cemetery would have been covered by Lake Lanier, but was moved from Dunlap Drive where the late Ed Dunlap Jr. had his home. The builders of a house on the land where the cemetery was located wanted to move the graves, but Thompson’s descendants objected.
The two sides ultimately compromised and the graves reburied in the Alta Vista cemetery will be dedicated in a ceremony at 1 p.m. on November 10 near the grave of General James Longstreet. Helen Martin, descendant of the Thompson family and a member of Colonial Dames, a heritage and history preservation society, will present a wreath to mark the occasion. Wes Hulsey, a descendant of Thompson, will chair. His cousin, Julius Hulsey, helped facilitate the relocation of the graves.
Andrew Thompson moved to what is now Hall County in 1806. His graves and those of his wife Cynthia are among those in Thompson Cemetery. Their sons, Ovid and Guilford, helped their father build the Thompson Bridge which stood until 1946 when it burned down. Their remains are also in the cemetery with their wives. Others include Ovid Brown Thompson and his wife Marguerite, Edgar Dunlap, Minnie Thompson Hulsey, Andrew and Cynthia Thompson and two slaves.
The original Thompson cemetery contained 72 graves; 48 were transferred to other cemeteries.
The illustration of the old Thompson Covered Bridge that accompanies this article was painted by Donald Cravens when he was the Miami Herald’s color editor. He was the uncle of the late John Thompson Shope, a descendant of Thompson who was involved in the negotiations for the relocation of the family cemetery to Alta Vista.
” The gold Rush “
Before Lake Lanier began to rise in the mid-1950s, there was some gold rush on Thompson Bridge Road. An Atlantan, Frank Gleason was trying to harvest gold around a stream just north of Thompson Bridge on the south side of the road. Andrew Thompson and his family owned hundreds of acres north of the bridge, which they built. Legend has it that the Thompson’s purchased the land with gold found on the property.
Some Earls of Hall remember when General Colin Powell did part of his military training at Camp Merrill in County Lumpkin. They say that while stationed near Dahlonega, he would travel to Gainesville to attend services at St. John Baptist Church.
General Powell died on October 18.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; 770-532-2326; or [email protected] His column is published every week.