Darien cemetery in need of improvements

By Haley Mitchell-Godwin

Some may view cemeteries as dismal and gloomy, places with little influence on the community. However, cemeteries can bring families together despite sorrowful situations and help people stay connected to their heritage by offering insight to the unique history of Crenshaw County and the way our ancestors lived. 

Crenshaw County residents seek to honor the county’s history and the memory of earlier generations by maintaining and preserving our cemeteries and graveyards. According to Lalar Tomberlin of Luverne, whose ancestors have been buried at the cemetery going back at least five generations, it is important to remember the value and significance of these final resting places. 

“It is very important that we take care of our cemeteries,” Tomlin said “We have a groundskeeper that does a great job keeping the grass manicured and such but there are trees that need to be cut. We are in need of new fencing after we get the area around the old fence cleaned up, the road needs repairing and although most of the graves are in good shape, some of the older ones need some brickwork and things. There are families buried at Darien Cemetery, and in cemeteries all over the county that go back generation after generation with people in the same family lines still being interned at places like Darien Cemetery. It’s imperative that we remember the value of these cemeteries throughout our lives and do what we can to make sure younger generations care just as much.”

Like many Crenshaw County cemeteries, Darien predates the Primitive Baptist Church located adjacent to the cemetery. The church was organized in 1883 but the first documented burial at the church occurred  in October of 1882. 

Several unmarked graves and headstones are no longer legible. Thus, it is possible there are even older graves on the site.. 

Among the approximately 700 people buried at Darien are many surnames with connections to the pioneers of Crenshaw County along with other familiar last names including Bozeman, Bradley, Butts, Carter, Cosby, Dorman, Golden, Folmar, Franklin, Hooks, Jeffcoat, King, McLeod, Messick, Nichols, Norman, Pynes, Simmons, Slaughter and more. 

Anita West’s great-grandparents were Slaughters. West, who lives in Luverne, has many family connections to the cemetery and wonderful childhood memories of attending Fa-So-La singings (also known as Sacred Harp Singing and American Shape Note Singing) and dinner on the grounds at the church.

“As a child, the foot washings were amazing to me,” West said. “Mrs.Cletha Norman would lead the Fa-So-La singings and her singing was out of this world. I have many fond memories associated with Darien Church and we simply must respect those that have passed on and preserve this historic cemetery. There has been one tree to fall on graves and we have several that need to be cut before more fall. Hiring a licensed company to take care of the trees will be costly and the cemetery operates solely off donations that are not connected to the donations the church so graciously receives. The road around the cemetery really needs work. At the moment getting stuck if you drive around it is a concern. The cemetery is very near full capacity as well so we also will have to expand once we get things cleaned up.”

Darien cemetery is cared for strictly through donations that are not connected to any donations made to the church. If you would like to make a donation make checks payable to Darien Cemetery Fund. Checks can be mailed to Lalar Tomberlin at 518 South Hawkins Avenue Luverne, AL 36049 or to Anita West at 509 New Harmony Road Luverne, AL 36049.

A detailed transcription of each legible headstone along with pictures can be found at https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/729573/darien-primitive-baptist-church-cemetery