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Reader applauds new gravesite for David Dunlap

Dear Editor,

In April 2018, the grave of early Chambers County settler David Dunlap, in Valley’s Shawmut community, was excavated by a professional archeological team, and artifacts from the grave were reburied in Old Bethlehem Cemetery in Valley’s Fairfax community.

I had not been in favor of the excavation. After it was done and the new grave was created, I was impressed that the undertaking had been completed conscientiously and came to a good end.  Thank you to the City of Valley and all involved for preservation of the original capstone and for the nice historical marker placed.  Mr. Reid Riley, City Code Enforcement Officer, was the person who kindly directed me to the new gravesite at that time.

Public records reveal that David Dunlap, a bachelor, was the son of David and Mary (Polly) Dunlap who emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina about 1784 and that he had several siblings.  A listing of the family prepared some years ago by his kinsman does not include David among the children. One generation seems to have failed to pass knowledge of him to the next.

A book published early this year establishes David’s place in the family.  The writing – Immigrant David Dunlap (1750-1835), subtitle, Migration of Family from South Carolina – is my research and recording of the Dunlap history/genealogy. This has been available to Dunlap descendants and is available to anyone by calling 334-768-2636.

The book tells the stories of the parents and each child.  Included is record of the challenge of David’s Last Will and Testament, survey of his land, his burial, and relocation of his grave; information on the two families of Elisha Trammell, who first married David’s niece, Mary Carnes Dunlap and owned a cotton mill on the Chattahoochee River; and short biographies of the Robinson children to whom David left his estate and who reared their families in Shawmut and LaFayette. 

One of the four Robinson children was Judge James Jefferson Robinson, member of the Alabama Constitutional Convention 1901, husband of Josephine Huguley.  Other Chambers County sir names mentioned are Harrington, Reese, Word, Sharpe, Hill, Forbes, Ellis, Strahan, Wilson, McFarland, Chatfield, Croft and Whittaker.

David, born and reared in Pendleton, South Carolina, exhibited that he had a good basic education.  A census suggests he lived in Tuscaloosa, with his father, from around 1820. About 1835-36, he acquired land in Shawmut, originally assigned through treaty provision to the Creek Indian woman Anne. He was highly-regarded by neighbors and friends, being generous in community and financially responsible for pastoral service to the local Presbyterian church. He owned cattle and swine and accumulated wealth from productions of cotton, wheat, Indian corn, butter, beeswax and honey.

His gravesite in the serene Old Bethlehem Cemetery is just inside the short gate at left end. The date of death inscribed on capstone and marker is actually the date he signed his will, as he died six days later, Sept. 15, 1852, of typhus fever. Also buried in this cemetery are Elisha Trammell and second wife, Anne Knight Trammell. Two Robinson family lots are in Pinewood Cemetery, West Point, near the foot of the hill, left of center driveway from lower entrance.

Alice Kelley