Grave markers reveal story of former Pinetucky community at Fort Gordon
Before there was a Fort Gordon there was a small town called Pinetucky. It was made up of sections of Columbia and Richmond counties. The land was dotted with farms, peach orchards, pecan groves, saw and grain mills prior to 1941. At that time due to the strong sense of patriotism and the pending threat of War World II, many residents sold their land to the government to establish Camp Gordon for Soldiers to train Soldiers for the war overseas.
Today what remains of the town are church and family cemeteries scattered about the post with graves dating back to 1827. According to the Fort Gordon Directorate of Public Works, about 45 of them can be found on Fort Gordon.
In one of the cemeteries, the Leitner cemetery, located in training area 35 on Fort Gordon, stands what is claimed as the oldest Confederate monument in the south. According to the August 1942 issue of the Augusta Herald, sculptors of the Markwalter Marble Company of Augusta designed the monument June 1866. It bears the inscription “Erected to the Memory of Our Boys in Grey by Linwood Sunday School.”
Near the cemetery once stood the Linwood Methodist Church, which was erected in 1858 and dedicated by Bishop George Pierce a year later. During Sunday school, people of all ages in the community, learned to read and write there.
While most of the gravesites have been well maintained by Fort Gordon and the families of the deceased, a few due to time and the effects of weather no longer bear legible inscriptions on the headstones.
As with most cemeteries, the deceased who are buried there come from all social and economic classes. One of the graves in Cemetery 30 is that of Catherine Leitner, wife of Daniel McCormick. She had been the organizer and superintendent of Linwood Sunday School for 43 years. The family owned a large plantation and sawmill in Pinetucky.
Quite a few members of the Leitner family are buried in Leitner Cemetery, known as Cemetery 30. Today Leitner Lake on Fort Gordon bears the name of the family who owned and operated a grist mill near the lake.
Another interesting person buried in Cemetery 30 among the other 82 individuals that were laid to rest there is James Burley Adams. According to the Oct. 15, 1930 issue of The Evening Independent newspaper, he was convicted of the slaying of Walter R. Tolbert, a federal prohibition agent, near Augusta, Ga., in February 1928. Tolbert was shot to death in an ambush as he rode in an automobile with a party of officers returning from a raid on a whiskey still.
Adam’s attorney tried to stall and prevent the electrocution by challenging the validity of the electrocution law at the time. Adams was sentenced to die Oct. 11 that year, but on the night of Oct. 10 Judge James B. Park of the Superior Court of Georgia, stayed the electrocution on application for a writ of habeas corpus. (A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether he should be released from custody.)
Park, in a hearing held the evening of Oct. 14, 1930, in Sparta, Ga., denied the application for a writ of habeas corpus for Burley Adams and upheld the constitutionality of the electrocution law. At the age of 34, Adams was electrocuted May 1931 at the Georgia State Prison in Milledgeville.
The town of Pinetucky and its citizens may be gone, but many of the families’ descendants continue to visit the cemeteries, help take care of the graves, and keep the memories of the town alive in stories.
( Ruth Lewis, a Fort Gordon cultural resource specialist, and Daniel Brown, U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence historian/ archivist, contributed to this story).