Captain Eli Hammond, A Vintage Vignette

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Captain Eli Hammond
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
February 11, 2008

When I first visited a little cemetery on Stoney Point Drive east of Harvest, the underbrush was so thick that even dogs couldn’t get through. I had been told of the cemetery by Evelyn Darwin, who with her husband Tyler had moved the Harris House from Redstone Arsenal to Madison in 1977. As I pushed aside the vegetation, I could see that there were several old box crypts and a couple of tombstones remaining under the trees and vines. The first inscription that I encountered was “In Memory of Mary Tabitha J. Bouldin, Daughter of Capt. Eli and Polly Hammond and Wife of James M. Bouldin”. The dates were broken away and not found. Beside Mary’s stone was one inscribed with “In Memory of Eli Hammond, born March 16, 1764, died Jan. 26, 1842, aged 77 years, 8 months & 10 days”.

Dorothy Scott Johnson included the cemetery in the “Cemeteries of Madison County, Alabama, Vol. I” (1971), wherein she reported finding 19 graves there. The surnames that she found were Hammond, McLaran, Bouldin, Routt, Owens, and Baldridge. The earliest birth date was for Eli Hammond, stated as serving in the War of 1812 and being a companion of Andrew Jackson. In 1800 Eli married Mary (“Polly”) Owen, daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Owen. Mary was born in 1783 and died in 1840. Their children included Mary Tabitha, Elizabeth (who married a Bouldin), William, Benjamin, Susan, Eli S., John C. Purnell, Arthur A., and Ferdinand Lee Hammond.

Benjamin became a physician and married in succession three daughters of Capt. William and Susan Routt. All three died within less than three years of their marriage to Benjamin and are buried in the nearby Hammond-Routt Cemetery. When Eli (Senior) died, Ferdinand became Executor of his estate -- 800 acres in the northwestern part of the county. In 1844 Ferdinand as executor sold the land to his brother Arthur for $1. The next year, Arthur sold 361 acres of the land back to Ferdinand for $100. Ferdinand also obtained a government land patent signed by his father’s friend, President Andrew Jackson in 1835.

Ferdinand later became Judge of the Probate Court of Madison County and continued to acquire land for many years. Ferdinand’s wife was Ann Blackburn. Her father Francis Blackburn was among men summoned to the house of Justice of the Peace W. Graves Bouldin in 1843 in relation to County Court proceedings regarding Eli’s estate. Eli was a descendant of American colonial notable Augustine Herman Bohemien, who came from the Czech Republic to New York City in 1644 and moved to Maryland in 1661. Other Madison-area surnames associated as descending from Augustine include Bouldin, Collier, Slaughter, Pickett, and Hundley. Another possible connection to the village of Madison is seen in the early 1900s when James and Joshua Hammond sold land to J. P. Ashford, the town’s undertaker and a saloon operator. The land is located today between Mill Road and Palmer Road, east of Mill Creek. Whether James and Joshua were descendants of Eli or of one of his 48 slaves is unknown at this time.

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