Cemetery celebrates listing in historic registry

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven, Norma Jean Howell, Allan Staib and Bobby Joe Seales help celebrate Mt. Calvary Cemetery’s addition to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Registry.

After several years of silence, the hallowed sanctuary of an old Chelsea church again rang with music and voices on a recent, beautiful fall morning.

Long disused wooden tables beneath ancient trees were again filled with food at noon.

In the afternoon, descendants of church founders gathered in front of the church for the dedication of a historical marker at the cemetery across Shelby County 74.

Norma Jean Harper Howell, Friends of Mt. Calvary Church and Cemetery president, has worked for several years to make this day a reality, as did her deceased parents, Malvin and Johnnie Mooney Harper.

Their ancestors were among founders of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church (established more than 150 years ago) and are buried in the cemetery, which has been listed on the State of Alabama Historic Cemetery Registry.

Chelsea now has two cemeteries on the Registry, more than any other city in the state, said Bobby Joe Seales, Shelby County Historical Society president. Lee Anne Wofford of the Alabama Historical Commission added that Shelby County has more of these markers than any county in the state except Mobile.

People from as far away as Oklahoma attended the celebration, sharing genealogical records, pictures and interesting stories.

When Allan Staib moved from Texas to Shelby County, he had no idea that he has family roots in Alabama, he said. In 2006 the discovery of a note written by his deceased grandmother led him to research, where he learned he lives only 20 minutes from the old homestead and burial site of his great, great grandparents Calvin Lee and Elizabeth Seale Mooney. Both were founding members of Mt. Calvary church.

Mooney was wounded three times during the Civil War. He lost his left arm while holding aloft the battle flag, which dropped from his dead comrades hand.

Military veterans buried in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery were honored at the recent celebration. Members of Chelsea Cub Pack 617 presented the colors and led the pledge of allegiance to the American flag; Columbiana Boy Scouts played taps; Steve Giles played bagpipes.

Austin Scott of the Sons of the Confederacy spoke.

Rev. Steve Wallace led the invocation. Denise Wallace and Linda Brasher led gospel singing.

Other guest speakers were Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven, Glenn Nivens, Allan Staib and Lee Anne Wofford. Bobby Joe Seales served as master of ceremonies.

For information, contact Norma Jean Howell 663-0729 or normajhowell@charter.net.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at ssnivens@bellsouth.net.