Clay County today is probably not a lot different from the Clay County of the nineteenth century, at least in certain areas. On one of my many wanderings to find a cemetery, we (my dad and I) set off on a search for one of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
Drewy Greenberry Bean was my first cousin five times removed, a son of Walter Bean. Walter most likely is my fifth great-grandfather. Drewy was born in 1837 in Burke, North Carolina and died March 1911 in rural Clay or Randolph County. He fought in the 31st Alabama Infantry during the Civil War. He was present at Vicksburg. His Civil War record on file with the Alabama Department of Archives and History describes him as about 5’6″ tall, with blue eyes and light hair.
Other than that, all I know is the location of his final resting place. I have no picture, no family story that would give a glimpse of his personality, only an old dirt road east of Lineville, near the Clay/Randolph County border. The road is called Old Church Road and basically leads to nowhere but the small cemetery carved out of the surrounding woods. Although the road indicates a church once stood here, it no longer exists. All that greeted me when I stepped from the car was the sound of birds and silence.
We found Drewy and most likely his wife Susan buried amongst few others, with a Confederate States of America marker indicating his grave. As I stood there, I tried to imagine the day he was buried – who was present? How did they feel about him? What was the weather like? Without the distraction of a modern world, for a brief moment I was carried back to lives lived and the frailty of human existence. Although we all eventually fall to the ravages of time, it is what we leave behind that is important. Wanting to know the story of Drewy and others like him keeps me going…