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TOWN CREEK —The ancestors of Civil War Sgt. Andrew Jackson Potter held a family reunion of sorts Sunday, March 30, meeting at his gravesite off Rock Creek Road in Town Creek to replace a missing headstone.
Dale Coleman Spencer, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Potter led the effort to install a new grave marker for the relative she only recently learned about.
Spencer said she discovered her family connection to Potter through genealogy records.
She said although she was a novice, using Ancestry.com helped her discover she had many relatives in the Civil War, but no one in her family had ever spoken of them.
Once she learned Potter was buried in Brunswick County, she wanted to find out where and used another website, findagrave.com, to help locate it.
That led her to Glenn Kye, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, George Davis Camp 5, who knew of the Potter grave and other family homes and gravesites in Town Creek since the late 1950s.
After meeting, Spencer and Kye also learned they are related. Andrew Jackson Potter was married to Martha Elizabeth Potter, who was Kye’s great-great-aunt. She is buried next to her husband in the family graveyard.
When Spencer learned that Potter’s original headstone was no longer in place, she wanted to make sure her ancestor was honored properly for his service.
“He joined (the Confederate Army) at the beginning of the Civil War and stayed through the end. I felt he should be honored,” Spencer said. “He fought for a cause he believed in. He fought for his home. He fought for his country, which he believed were the confederate states.
“It’s hard to find a soldier who stayed through to the very end. That kind of conviction needed to be recognized.”
Frances Nichols, president of the Cape Fear United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cape Fear Chapter 3, hosted Sunday’s service. She said Spencer joined the UDC to help find a way to mark Potter’s gravesite.
“That evolved into the grave marker dedication taking place today,” she said.
Kye presented a brief history of Potter’s service in the Confederate States Army. He said Potter joined April 12, 1862, along with two of his brothers-in-law, Benjamin Potter and George Washington Rabon, a distant relative of state Sen. Bill Rabon.
Potter was stationed at Ft. Anderson, Ft. Caswell, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Fisher during his time in the 3rd Company G, 36th Regiment NCT Artillery Company.
Brunswick County had two artillery companies and two infantry companies in the confederate army. Potter’s artillery company was known as Lamb Artillery, Kye said.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cape Fear Chapter 3, based in Wilmington, dedicated the tombstone marker with Civil War poems, a wreath and flowers for the family to place on the stone.
The UDC also provided two “mourning ladies,” Martha Watson and Brenda Shadrick, who dressed in period-specific black mourning dresses for the dedication.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans George Davis Camp 5 Co. E 1st North Carolina state troops re-enactors attended the service to provide a color guard and a gun salute using period appropriate muskets.
They also performed a canteen ceremony, which was described by the re-enactors as sharing a drink of water from a canteen over the grave to remember that confederate soldiers often had very little and shared everything down to the last drink of water in their canteen.
The small graveyard where the dedication took place includes two other graves: unmarked grave of one of Potter’s sons, Caldwell Cullen Christberry Potter, and his wife John Etta Harvill.
The grave marker dedication brought out more than a dozen distant relatives of Andrew Jackson Potter, including the third generation great-grandchildren Spencer, her brother David Coleman and Deanna Bailey, fourth generation great-grandchildren Brent and Bobby Bailey, and the youngest Potter relative, sixth generation great-grandchild Fisher Bailey.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.