The descendants of Nathaniel Mitchum, who died in 1838, gathered around a new headstone Saturday to honor his life.
More than 50 people attended the unveiling of the new headstone at the Macedonia United Methodist Churchâ€™s graveyard in Vale. Ages ranged from 9 months to 88 years old.
â€œIâ€™m very happy with it,â€ said Alta Durden, one of the eventâ€™s organizers. â€œSeveral of the people suggested we make this an annual event.â€
On one side, the new headstone states Mitchumâ€™s wifeâ€™s name as well as the names of their 13 children. On the other, Mitchumâ€™s original 1838 grave marker is embedded. The small stone simply states his age and the year of his death.
Descendants came to see the new grave from as far west as Arizona and as far south as Florida.
â€œYou know in some way youâ€™re related to them, and you never knew they existed,â€ said Carrol Mitchem of the people attending.
The group first met at Mitchemâ€™s Kitchen before going to the graveyard. They came for a variety of reasons.
Danny Bradshaw attended because â€œIâ€™m just curious about where I came from.â€
Margie Bonner Tuck came â€œto meet my cousins that Iâ€™ve never seen before.â€
And Mike Mitchem had no choice. He showed up â€œmainly because Alta asked me to.â€
Durden, who lives in Georgia, and her sister, Martha Mitchem Graham, who lives in Cherryville, are both huge fans of history and genealogy.
â€œWe want to preserve it and pass it down for future generations,â€ Graham said.
They worked together to put on the reunion and headstone unveiling.
They know a good amount about Mitchum himself. He was born in Virginia and became a carpentry apprentice at the age of 13 in Raleigh. He eventually moved to Lincoln County where he was a farmer, a husband and a father of 13.
From there came generations of Lincoln County Mitchems. Many of those descendants took group pictures with the new headstone Saturday afternoon.
â€œItâ€™s a great way to celebrate your own personal history,â€ said Bob Royster, who drove up from Chapel Hill with his wife, Katherine. â€œItâ€™s making history come alive.â€
Mitchumâ€™s original gravestone (pictured above) is embedded in the newer stone. Sarah Grano / LTN Photo
by Sarah Grano