By Michael Davis
Just a few feet off the road, surrounded by horse pastures and watched over by a leaning historical marker that details a portion of Sherman's March to the Sea, lies a small cemetery where people with names like White and Morgan and Stodghill and Lofton are buried.
Stodghill and Lofton are some of Butts County's oldest family names, and descendants say the cemetery is located not far from the site where John Lofton opened a store in the early 1800s that soon became the community's post office and a stagecoach stop on the route from Covington to Macon.
Jack Stodghill, 83, said his great-grandfather, William F. Stodghill, Sr., is descended from Joel Stodghill, who left Virginia, after fighting in the Revolutionary War, and eventually settled in Butts County.
William F. Stodghill, Sr., he said, married Lofton's daughter, Justina, establishing the "Lofton-Stodghill descendancy."
To recognize the historical importance of the cemetery located just off Winding Way in the community now known as Worthville, family members will gather on Saturday, June 12, to dedicate a marble marker that tells the story of how the Loftons and Stodghills became intertwined.
The dedication will begin at 10 a.m., at the Stodghill Cemetery.
Jack Stodghill, who grew up in Butts County and graduated from Jackson High School, now lives in Newport News, Va.
He said he was unaware of the cemetery until recently, when he and his son, Jeff, were in the area researching family history.
He said he wanted to erect a permanent marker in the cemetery that preserves that history.
"I guess the motivation was to make sure that there's some permanent recognition of the family's contribution to the early history of the county," he said.
The marker was installed at the cemetery in late May, he said.
The text carved into its face reads: "The Stodghill Cemetery is the final resting place of many descendants of Stodghills and Loftons of Butts County. It was on a site just north of this cemetery where John Lofton established his store in the early 1800s. Lofton's Store became the official name of the community, its first post office and a stagecoach stop between Covington and Macon. The community's name was changed to Worthville around 1850. William F. Stodghill, Sr., married John Lofton's daughter, Justina, establishing the Lofton-Stodghill descendancy. Both Lofton and Stodghill together with many of their family members and descendants are buried here."
Rachael Rooks, who grew up adjacent to the cemetery and still lives there, said John Lofton and his wife were the first to be buried in the cemetery in the early 1850s, on land belonging to William F. Stodghill, Sr., and Justina, before it became known as the Stodghill Cemetery a few years later. Rooks said William F. Stodghill, Sr., is her great-great-grandfather.
She said she is glad to see the marker erected at the cemetery, to tell the family's story. "I'm just proud to see that someone has taken an interest to help with the cemetery -- to make sure that people in the future will know what it's all about," she said.
The public is invited to the dedication.