Forgotten Confederate cemeteries dot the beautiful countryside of Georgia. These memorial cemeteries were erected by families, Confederate military units, disbanded churches, and makeshift hospitals during and after the end of the Civil War. Some of the eternal resting spaces are carefully tended by those who wish to preserve the past; others are overgrown, long since claimed by the flora and fauna of the land holding its secrets.
One such eternal resting space is the Middlebrooks family cemetery in Porterdale. Our research team learned of the reclamation efforts of the Middlebrooks family plot from Debbie Autry. According to an article written by the Rockdale Citizen, “Autry’s late mother, Peggy, was born in Porterdale, but grew up in Macon. Autry's grandparents maintained a home on the Middlebrooks plantation, but after they died their home was sold, and the family lost its immediate connection to the area. Autry and her mother still made an annual drive, and over the years, the cemetery showed more and more ruin.”
Fearing that the remains of her great-great, great-great-great and great-great-great-great grandparents along with other family members would be lost forever, Autry contacted the Sons of Confederate Veterans who subsequently took on the cemetery clean-up project.
There are two Confederate soldiers buried at Middlebrooks cemetery: Autry's great-great-great grandfather, 2nd Sgt. Zere Pendergrass Middlebrooks (d. 1862) and his brother-in-law, Private James Christian (d. 1864). In addition to the afore mentioned relations, the members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans uncovered more than 100 graves. More than 90 of those were unmarked, assumed to be slaves and their descendants.
In addition to the Middlebrooks cemetery, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are also clearing the Meadors cemetery at County Road 213 and Ga. Hwy. 36, where three Confederate soldiers are buried. They also maintain the Scott cemetery at Kinnett and Brown Bridge roads and the Confederate cemetery behind Oxford College. Because Rockdale County wasn't formed until after the Civil War, the group works mainly in Newton County.
Should you be hiking or exploring the woodlands within Newton County, keep an eagle eye on your surroundings. You may just happen upon one of the area’s forgotten Confederate cemeteries and catch a quick glimpse in to our county’s rich contribution to history.