Furnace Hill Cemetery
July 7, 2003. The following is taken from the Furnace Hill Cemetery Book. Thanks to Mr. Harold Goode.
“The area now designated as the Furnace Hill Cemetery got its name from the Hale and Murdock Blast Furnace which had its beginning in 1857. The ore banks were located out Highway 18 from Vernon, Alabama towards Columbus, Mississippi, approximately 8 tenths of a mile behind the Bobby Crossley place, ( formerly the John W. Crowder place) and the Bobby Redus place.
This operation produced a wide variety of iron utensils. The Confederate Government used the pig iron for making iron products used by the soldiers. It ran for four years after the War but was abandoned because of losing money.
Hale and Murdock owned several hundred disputed acres, sections of iron ore deposits and mineral rights to all land owned by them. The operation ceased in 1870 and bankrupt in 1875. In 1875, John W. Crowder and William P. Newman purchased the assets of Hale and Murdock Iron Company for $450.00. The Hale and Murdock holdings had been sold twice, once by auction in Lamar County and again in Huntsville, Alabama. No one really knew who owned the land or the minerals. The deed to John W. Crowder and William P. Newman was validated but remained unresolved in the courts of Lamar County throughout the 1880’s. Crowder and Newman were sued several times and were finally forced to relinquish their rights to the property.
Jerry Pennington was born in 1857 in Fayette County, Alabama. Jerry Pennington married Rhonda Elizabeth (Lizzie) Dobbins on November 6, 1879. He was elected sheriff of Lamar County in 1892-1896. They had a son (Ira) who is buried at Wofford Cemetery.
Jerry Pennington bought several acres of land, 80 acres more of less, from Austin Jordan and wife Mary Ellen Jordan on the 6th day of November, 1886 for $400.00. The land which is now the old part (Part No. 1) of the Furnace Hill Cemetery was included in this acreage. Alexander Cobb was Judge of Probate. The deed is recorded in Deed Book 11, page 187.
Mrs. Ora Cook Adams Jordan remembered being told by Aunt Matt (Martha Ellen) that Austin Jordan was hauling freight by oxen and wagon between Vernon, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi by way of the Yellow Creek road. It was told that he fell off the wagon under a wagon wheel and was killed. It was suspected that this accident involved foul play. Austin Jordan is buried in Old Nebo Cemetery. His wife Martha Ellen never remarried and lived a long time after Austin’s death and is buried at Furnace Hill, row no. 13 and plot no. 21.
Jerry Pennington owned this land until the 4th day of May 1891, when he and his wife sold a lot of ground 110 yards north , 110 yards south, 110 yards east and 110 yards west to trustees: G. B. (Green Berry) Jordan and Pinkney (Pink) Pennington for $15.00, W. A. Young was Probate Judge at this time.
Pink Pennington was Deloy Pennington’s grandfather and is buried at Friendship South Cemetery, along with a lot of other Pennington kin. There are also a lot of Penningtons buried at Furnace Hill. One stands out at the Furnace, Alabama Pennington, who is buried in row no. 8 and plot no. 20 with a rock headstone.
G. B. Jordan is buried in row no. 6, plot no. 23 at Furnace Hill, with his wife Margaret (Johnson) Jordan buried next to him in plot no. 24. G. B’s first wife, Vila Tackett, is buried in the Old Nebo Cemetery.
Margaret’s headstone looks like marble. It was brought here from Hot Springs, Arkansas by Charlie Jordan, son of G. B. and Margaret Jordan. George W. Jordan was also a son of G. B. and Margaret Jordan. George W. Jordan married Martha Ann Hollis. George W. and Martha Ann were the parents of Hiram Jordan, who was the first person to be buried in the Furnace Hill Cemetery, row no. 6, plot 20. There were three burials before the date of the deed: 1st, Hiram Jordan, Born November 24, 1889 died May 26, 1890; second, Arkader Gifford, born March 23, 1880, died June 11, 1890; Third, James L. McManus, born April 9, 1880, died January 29, 1891.
Uncle Charley Jordan was baby sitting Hiram, for George W. Jordan. Hiram was on his shoulder and accidentally slid off onto a chicken coupe, which was behind him, injuring the top of his head. Hiram died because of this injury. Mother, Martha Ann, did not want Hiram buried at Wofford Cemetery, or Old Nebo Cemetery because she would be too far away. She did not want him buried at the Furnace Church (now Springfield Free Will Baptist) because of the water level in the graves. Grandfather, Green Berry, told Martha Ann, stop worrying, I’ll take care of the burial. He went to Jerry Pennington and G. B. and Pink Pennington started part no. 1, of the Furnace Hill Cemetery. Hiram was buried and Martha Ann cried day and night because little Hiram was all alone at the cemetery. She stopped crying when little lady Arkader Gifford was buried 15 days later. They were having the burial services under a huge oak tree at this time.
Elma (Bradley) Ward (descendant of Judge Bradley), wife of James V, (Veston) Ward, who is buried in row no. 16, plot 4, remembers when her sister Emma Bradley was buried in 1922, in row no. 9, plot no. 4. They were carrying her by mule and wagon to the cemetery. A rain storm came up so they went by John W. Crowder’s house, and unloaded the casket onto the front porch until the storm was over. They reloaded the casket back onto the wagon and went to the cemetery. There was no arbor, even at this time, they were still using the shade of the huge oak tree for the services. Burial services were held under this oak tree for years and years before the arbor was built.”