Reunion goers set to cleanup historic church, cemetery

Published 6:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

Organizers expect people from several states to attend a reunion and cleanup day event at the historic Mt. Calvary Baptist Church and cemetery near Chelsea on May 2.

Allan Staib, who has ancestors buried in the cemetery, praised the cleanup work done by a local group earlier this year. But the church is no longer active and as a result care and maintenance are sporadic, he said.

“We would like to contact as many of the other descendants of those buried there as possible and form an association of some sort to provide for regular ongoing care for the church and cemetery,” Staib said.

Staib is a “second great–grandson” of Calvin Lee Mooney and Elizabeth Seale Mooney, who are buried in the cemetery. The Mooneys were founding members of the church, which was established in 1856.

Calvin Lee Mooney was born in 1830 and moved to Shelby County from South Carolina in the 1840s, Staib said. He died at his home near Mt. Calvary Church on November 15, 1906. His wife was born in Shelby County in 1833 to parents who were very early residents of the county. Both are buried at Mt. Calvary.

According to Calvin Mooney’s obituary in a 1906 Sentinel, he served in the 29th Alabama Regiment, Company B during the Civil War, and “was one of Shelby’s best known and highly esteemed citizens.”

When his color bearer was shot down at the battle at Franklin, Tenn., “he seized the battle flag from his dead comrade’s hand and bore it aloft until his own strong arm was shattered, and not until he fell bleeding did he let it fall.”

The incident resulted in the loss of Mooney’s left arm.

“The Calvary cemetery contains the remains of many of Shelby County’s early residents,” Staib said.

Family names represented in the historic burying grounds include Armstrong, Farrell, Harper, Kendrick, Minor, Moore, Payne, Roper, Shaw, Stone and Thomas.

The May 2 cleanup will begin at 9 a.m. and the reunion at noon. All interested persons are invited and asked to bring a picnic lunch, photos and stories to share.

The church and cemetery are located on Highway 74 near Chelsea. Allan Staib may be contacted at 408-9976 or for more information.