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Phillips family descendents work to preserve cemeteries, history

In the year 1773, the first Phillips ancestor to move into Georgia, on Lick Creek, was Zachariah Phillips. There he built a mill and settled down on Georgia soil with his second wife, Rachel, and children. It is through his son, Ichabod Phillips, and his grandson, Mathew Phillips that the Phillips family has our heritage.

More than 230 years later, the Phillips descendents have spread far and wide, though with the realization that their roots were indeed in Georgia. At our first Georgia family reunion in 2003 at Whiteoak, we embraced strangers who were actually family members we had never met. There were more than 100 folks in attendance.

Prior to the reunion, I had been in Georgia looking for genealogical information to add to my 20+ years of research. (I have self-published three editions of the Phillips Family History) and it was then that a local Georgia genealogist took me to the Phillips Cemetery, ending a long search for her ancestor's burial site. This led me to form a committee in December 2003 to ensure that the Mathew Phillips cemetery would be here for generations to come. Most family members didn't even know the cemetery on Kelly Road near Fort Creek Baptist Church, existed but the funds began to come in for restoration and preservation.

Those buried at the Phillips cemetery include: Mathew Phillips, Armenta Sellers Phillips-first wife of Mathew, Gatsey Reeves Phillips-second wife of Mathew, and babies: Angeline Phillips, Mattie Radford, Isabel Phillips, Nanie Phillips and Peggie Phillips.

I currently serve as chairwoman of the Phillips Cemetery Committee. The other members are: Elvie Phillips Fullbright, of Macon and Whiteoak, Ga., Jack Phillips of Wrens, Alan Johnson of Norwood, and Evelyn Phillips Johnson of North Augusta.

After completing the Phillips Cemetery in March 2004, the committee members began to investigate other old burial sites and/or cemeteries. Thanks to the efforts of Billy Phillips of Thomson, who obtained a utility service's old maps of burial sites, we were able to locate the burial site of Mathew Phillips' father, Ichabod Phillips and his wife Sophia Lord Phillips on the old MaGahee property on Iron Hill Road, just south of Dearing. (Ichabod, in 1793 bought 325 acres of Columbia County for 50 English pounds from Edward and Elizabeth Burks.) The Phillips Cemetery Committee erected a memorial marker in May 2004 beside the highway to honor our ancestors buried in the field behind the marker.

In July 2004, Elvie Fullbright and myself went to the Phillips Mill Baptist Church to see the grave of Joel Phillips, brother to Zachariah Phillips and then on to the Kettle Creek Memorial where the festivities of the 227th Commemoration of the Battle of Kettle Creek will be held again this year. Both Joel and Zachariah were Revolutionary War soldiers. Joel's name is listed on the memorial marker and we hope to eventually have Zachariah's name included on it. A priority of the Phillips Cemetery Committee is to locate the final resting place of Zachariah Phillips who died about 1813, as well as any documents that would definitely place Zachariah at the Battle of Kettle Creek.

In December of 2005, the committee began a preservation effort at the old Paul Cemetery on Luckey's Bridge Road near Dearing. Phillips graves in the cemetery include those of Mathew Phillips son, Preston Phillips and Preston's wife, Dilly Ruth Hall Phillips. The Phillips Cemetery Committee erected new headstones for Preston and Dilly Phillips prior to the clearing of the cemetery, thanks to donations from the Phillips family. A second cleanup day was conducted Jan. 14. Due to the efforts of Phillips family members and folks representing other local families, the old Paul Cemetery has a new look that we want to help preserve for years to come.

In the future, if we locate any other old cemeteries that have Phillips graves in them, it would be our desire to help clean and preserve those cemeteries as well. There might, also, be the possibility of helping to clean other old cemeteries that we deem worthy of preservation.

It is the hope of the Phillips Cemetery Committee that other families in Georgia will become interested in their family history and thereby commit to cleaning and preserving the gravesites of their ancestors.

All members of the cemetery committee would be glad to meet with any group or individual about forming a committee of their own, sources for locating gravesites, locating landowners where graves are located, and organizing cleanups. If you are interested, please contact me at P.O. Drawer 340, Wilmer, AL 36587.

Web posted on Thursday, February 9, 2006

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