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Throwback Thursday: More #HauntedFortBenning

There are more than 60 known cemeteries on Fort Benning, most of which were private family plots or church cemeteries acquired through land expansion, as the federal government purchased land to grow Fort Benning during the early part of the 21st Century. That number does not include the many Native American burial grounds that have been paved over or unearthed in the last 100 years.*

Dating to 1922, the Main Post Cemetery, on the east side of Benning Boulevard, is notable for its beauty, simplicity and symmetry. Three Medal of Honor recipients were laid to rest here, including Col. Robert Nett (1922-2008), Col. Edward R. Schowalter (1927-2003), who survived their injures, and Spc4 Donald Johnston (1947-1969), a Columbus native who was awarded the medal posthumously after he was killed in Vietnam. Johnston is buried near the foot of the flagpole. The cemetery is also the final resting place of 7 Italian and 44 German prisoners of war who died in captivity at Fort Benning during World War II.

Cemetery Number 2, near the Commissary Mall on Santa Fe Road, is the Parkman Family Cemetery. There are only 20 distinguishable graves, but likely more buried here. Fort Benning inherited this cemetery a land acquisition in 1918. The Parkman family had had owned the land since 1830. Their

farmhouse sat on the hill to the northwest where the vacant former Martin Army Community Hospital now sits. This community was called Red Bone. The Parkmans were early Chattahoochee County pioneers, and they left their land reluctantly. David Richard Parkman is buried in Linwood in Columbus (where you’ll also find the grave of Brigadier Gen. Henry Benning.) Though he was allowed to stay in his farmhouse until his death in 1921, he was either not permitted or chose not to be buried in his family cemetery once it became federal property. I’ve heard both versions, but can’t find concrete proof either way. His father, William Parkman, is buried here, in Cemetery #2. He served with Pemberton’s Company** of the Georgia Cavalry during the Civil War. William was the son of Joe Daniel Parkman, who was born in 1776 and is buried here, also.

There are some who believe it is the disgruntled spirit of David Richard Parkman who haunts the buildings along Santa Fe Road. He appears to be fairly run-of-the-mill, as far as hauntings go; he throws things, clears shelves and shows himself mostly to the custodians and employees who show up early or stay late. In fact, Parkman’s spirit, if that’s who it is, is one of the least notable ghosts on post. He’s far out-maneuvered by the ghost of Col. John Tate – you read about him last week – and a spectacular specter who resides on Baltzell Avenue on Main Post. She’s an out-of-work nanny or nursemaid looking for a job, apparently, as she likes to take charge of the children in the house and usually appears wearing a long dark dress, a full floor-length apron and a white cap. One resident said she often found her baby playing with “someone who wasn’t there.” He wasn’t old enough to stand or pull himself upright the first time his mom found him sitting in the middle of his room, after she had tucked him into his crib for a nap. When there are no children to mind, she looks for other entertainment, turning electronics on and off and occasionally playing the harmonica, usually after everyone has turned in for the night.

That’s it for this week’s edition of #HauntedFortBenning. I’m anxious to hear where have you encountered the otherworldy on Fort Benning? Please don’t forget the real little ghouls who will be trick-or-treating all across post from 6-8pm Oct 29. Drive carefully. Also, remember the free annual Howl-O-Ween at the Dog Park Party from4:30-6:30pm Oct 26 at the park on Zuckerman Avenue; the Zombie Shoot at the Recreational Shooting Complex from 5-7pm Oct. 28; and Costume & Karaoke Night from 8pm-midnight Oct 28 at the Benning Brew Pub. I’ve attached more information on those events.

* As recently as 2011, bones and artifacts were unearthed during a utility project on Main Post. Representatives from various tribes determined the graves were likely more than 2,000 years old. Among the artifacts was a gorget, a tribal neckpiece that indicates one person was a chief or individual of elite status. “The gorget is a very significant piece,” said Robert Thrower, cultural director and tribal historic preservation officer with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. “It let us know this was not your typical burial. He was a very important person. … The odds of finding something like that was astronomical. It was in perfect condition.”

**John Stith Pemberton was the chemist who invented Coca Cola. In May 1862, Pemberton enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Confederate Army, and he organized Pemberton’s Calvary to guard the town of Columbus. In Pemberton’s last battle, the Battle of Columbus, he was shot and cut with a saber across the chest. He used morphine for his pain, and eventually became a morphine addict. Pemberton hit upon the recipe for Coca-Cola while experimenting coca and coca wines in an effort to ease his pain and cure his addiction. He is also buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus. You should check out Linwood Cemetery.

Bridgett Siter Directorate of Family & Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Fort Benning, Georgia


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