• 88°

‘Rose Garden Cemetery’ abandoned, remains removed

At the close of the War Between the States, Union cavalry soldiers demanded a place to stay on the property of James and Margaret McLaney in Northern Pike County. Margaret McLaney met them on the front porch and said, “You are welcome to camp in the grove, but you are not taking over my house without a fight, and the first man that puts his foot on my porch, be he private or officer, will be shot.”

John Phil McLaney of Troy laughs each time he retells the story of his spunky great-great grandmother. The story leaves him to wonder how she would greet those who are coming July 5 to remove her remains and those of her husband that have been at rest in Cemetery #141 at 707 South Brundidge Street in Troy since the late 1800s.

“On Monday, the remains of my great-great grandparents will be exhumed and moved to the Briar Hill Carter Cemetery,” McLaney said. “In December 2009, the city of Troy began the paperwork necessary to have the McLaney Family Cemetery relocated. This action was the result of a proposed street improvement project. The family’s request was that Briar Hill should be the final ‘final’ resting place for my great-great grandparents.”

There was an earlier attempt to “disturb” the resting place of James Madison McLaney and his wife, Margaret Mariah Melton McLaney.

And, the couple’s remains could have ended up in a dump truck in the summer of 2002 had a relative not noticed an excavation in progress.

“Melton Carter alerted Troy city officials and the work was halted until the issue was resolved,” McLaney said. “Alabama has strict laws governing the abandonment of a cemetery and the removal of human remains.”

The McLaneys were buried in the rose garden of their home on South Brundidge Street, he in 1879 and she in 1891, and were left undisturbed in the garden plot – until now.

“James and Margaret McLaney lived first at Farriorville in Pike County but moved to Troy to be near a doctor,” McLaney said. “They lost two sons in the Civil War and were a very patriotic family. All nine of their children were named after presidents, generals and other great military leaders.”

On June 16, 2009, the McLaney Family Cemetery of two was listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register, a prestigious listing of historic cemeteries that are considered worthy of preservation and appreciation.

The McLaney Family Cemetery was the second to be listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register, which featured 303 cemeteries statewide as of June 16, 2009.

The relocation site of the remains will be noted on the listing.

McLaney has no objections to the remains of his ancestor being moved to a “final” resting place. However, he doesn’t know what to expect when the graves are opened and he’s not sure what his feelings will be.

“My great-great grandparents were buried during the late 1800s. They might have been embalmed, but it’s likely they weren’t,” he said. “If they were buried in a cast iron casket, it should still be intact but, if they were buried in a pine box, there might be nothing left except bones.”

If the bodies were buried with rings or other such articles, those articles might be recovered in the process.

“I’ve heard of someone who was buried in a pine casket and, when the grave was opened, his wool suit was still intact,” McLaney said. “We don’t know what we’ll find but I’m in favor of the relocating the remains of my great-great-grandparents so they can be at peace in their final resting place.”

McLaney said there will be a short service when the remains are relocated to the Briar Hill Carter Cemetery and a memorial service will be planned at a later date.