They have been collecting the dead here for almost 270 years, before the colonies became a country, before the country was shattered by war. The dead in St. Peter’s graveyard were safeguarded even as civil war raged above them, as artillery riddled houses, cavalry charged through the streets, and the church burned down to the ground to meet them.
St. Peter’s has been holding the dead for a long time. There are three Revolutionary soldiers, 17 Confederate dead, and far too many children.
Massive trees have grown to shadow the graves — magnolia, oak, cypress, dogwood, birch, even a Ginkgo. Palmetto palms surround the graves like bayonets planted in the ground. And sunlight flows like water, ebbing and flooding among the headstones.
In the shadow of a massive magnolia tree lies the grave of Colonel James Bonner. He named the town Washington after his friend and fellow soldier, George Washington. Beneath a cypress tree, Thankful O’Cain and her babies are buried. Nearby the relatives of film director Cecil B. DeMille are encrypted, waiting for the resurrection that was promised.
In 1890 they stopped burying the dead in St. Peter’s. Townsfolk were concerned the dead would contaminate their well water.