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Man works to honor Confederate soldier grandfather buried in Warrenton

The grave of a local confederate soldier was recently restored and will be rededicated in a special service at the Warrenton Cemetery. Ben Willingham of Jacksonville, Fla., said he had been searching for the grave of his great-grandfather, Maj. William Britton Hundley II, for a long time. Through the help of an old photograph, Mr. Willingham was able to find the grave last year in Warrenton.

"Sure enough, there were some old stones, some lying down, some leaning up against the wall, and this little one barely above ground... So we scratched away to see the name, and that was it," Mr. Willingham said. "The wall had fallen... and the stone sunk... It was probably only three inches above ground when we found it."

Today, after work and restoration, Mr. Willingham said the grave stone stands three feet above ground as was intended. In addition to the stone, Mr. Willingham said he had the wall around the graves rebuilt with a proper foundation and a drainage point for rain. A Southern Cross memorial marker and a bronze Veterans Administration military marker have also been added to the site. Other family members are also buried there.

Major Hundley and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Jones, were residents of Warrenton in 1860. According to Tom Holley, a resident of Thomson and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Mr. Hundley is listed on the roster of the "McDuffie Rifles," a confederate volunteer unit which was later assigned as Company D to the 5th Georgia Infantry Regiment.

"You look at the names on their muster list, and look in the phone book of Thomson and Warrenton, and you see a lot of the same names are still there," Mr. Willingham said.

Mr. Holley said Hundley was a Second Lieutenant who was later promoted to a Captain of the company, then a Major.

"He stayed in the army until they surrendered in 1865. That is very unusual," Mr. Willingham said. "Most people got wounded or killed or deserted."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy out of Augusta, as well as re-enactors from Warrenton, will participate in the memorial service.

"I just thought this is an opportunity to honor our ancestors and to remember the service that they did for what they believed at that time," Mr. Willingham said. "Now that we've got (the grave site) all cleaned up and looking good, let's just do something about it."

In addition to his Confederate service, Major Hundley married into a prominent family of McDuffie County. His father-in-law was Dr. James Spann Jones, who was a Senator from Warren County in 1842, a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1865, and a member of the House of Representatives from McDuffie County in 1877. Dr. Jones was one of the founders of the First United Methodist Church of Thomson, where one of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary bears his name. The former Laura Jones School was named for his daughter.

"I was hoping I could stir up enough interest to get some people to come out there and rededicate not just Major Hundley's grave, but to pay tribute to all of the young men from that part of Georgia that answered the call of duty," Mr. Willingham said.

The service will take place at the Warrenton Cemetery at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.

After his conversations with people, Mr. Holley said a "pretty-good sized crowd" is expected. During the ceremony, a history of the McDuffie Rifles will be given by Steve Longcrier, a 21-gun salute will be given by the re-enactors, and David Butler will play Amazing Grace on bagpipes. The public is invited to attend.

Web posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007

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