FAIRFIELD COUNTY — The Fairfield County Museum and Fairfield County Historical Society fixed a grave mistake, and the research is being recognized.
After hours of research stretched across multiple months, research efforts led by volunteer Ed Gates located the lost grave of Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Havis.
“We knew we were looking for brick,” Gates said. “When I found brick, I knew I had found it.”
The effort has been rewarded with a $1,000 contribution from the Havis family of Odessa, Texas, distant relatives of the deceased veteran, per the request of the late Hoyt Norman “Norm” Havis.
Estelle Havis, whose late husband was a descendent of the Revolutionary War veteran, said Norm wished to help finance any efforts to memorialize his forefather.
“He passed away last year, and he made us promise we would help finance whatever they did,” Estelle Havis said. “We carried out his wishes.”
Havis said she was happy the deceased veteran’s burial site is now properly marked.
“I’m real thankful they finally took care of where he’s buried,” Havis said. “I know my husband would be happy.”
Pelham Lyles, director for Fairfield County Museum, said she is happy to help and proud of the museum’s volunteer researchers.
“I am so proud of the folks who volunteer,” Lyles said.
Previously, the grave was marked with a large slab. However, the slab was re-purposed as a picnic table by unaware neighbors.
“At some point, a family decided that slab would make a really good top for a picnic table,” explained Suzanne Johnson, museum volunteer and Genealogy Society board member.
Without a marker, the grave site became difficult to pinpoint.
“It took Ed months and months to find this site,” Johnson said. “Ed did 99 percent of the work.”
Gates said he had received general directions from descendents of Havis, and he was eventually able to track down the grave. An almost 200-year-old map helped confirm the correct grave had been found.
“This was his home site,” Lyles said. “He’s on the 1820 map, so we know this is right.”
The Fairfield County Historical Society paid $652 to place a new granite monument at the grave site, and David Wright and his tractor helped place the new, large slab.
The $1,000 donation reimbursed the cost of that monument, and will help fund a second monument.
“As far as our records show he was a big part of the First Methodist Church in Winnsboro,” Lyles said.
The remaining $348 will be used to help fund a project led by the Rev. Bundy Bynum to erect an historical marker in the First United Methodist Church cemetery.
“Working in this job has always been so rewarding,” Lyles said. “It’s a helping job. When you’re helping somebody else, you realize you’re helping yourself.”