If one is travelling down to Ft Morgan, which lies on the end of a little jut and guards the entrance to Mobile Bay (across from her sister fort Gaines), then one is sure to pass by Shell Bank Cemetery. Some locals apparently refer to it as the Persimmon Swamp Cemetery or the Old Spanish Cemetery (though the cemetery itself seemed bereft of any Spanish names). Shell Banks cemetery rests behind a Baptist congregation which bears the same name, and directly beside these is the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department. While visiting, some dutiful person had adorned the graves of Confederate veterans with small Battle Flags, to mark some men out for special appreciation and reverence. These were:
Joseph D. Nelson, b. Jan 8, 1845, d. Aug 8, 1915
Samuel Nelson , 2nd Cpl Co. F 15th Conf. Cav, CSA. b. Sep 2, 1841, d. Oct 6, 1931
George W Nelson, Pvt Co D 1st (?) Regiment FL Inf, CSA. b. Oct 7, 1830, d. Aug 18, 1901
John Clifford Nelson, Pvt(?) Co K, 25th AL Inf, CSA. b. May 10, 1847, d. Jun 24, 1918
John F. Nelson, Pvt, Co F, 15th Regt (?), CSA. b. 1844, d. 1864.
John Ewing, Pvt, Capt Arrington’s Co, CSA. b. Jan 29, 1844, d. Dec 14(?), 1918
– Of interest here is his (presumably) wife’s name, Alabama Ewing, 1855- 1913. It is a highly unusual but laudatory name.
What’s truly remarkable here is something which was, at the time, not remarkable at all. The Nelson Family fielded a slew of soldiers for the cause of independence. Five out of the six recorded Confederate veterans interred at Shell Banks sprung from the same stock, one of which (John F.) possibly died during the War. While their acts of sacrifice on behalf of their people should be praised, we may also take note of what made those acts possible – large families. The South will win the culture war if she is able to field and sustain the numbers necessary to carry on her culture. It is easier to displace a family of four than one of eight.
If anyone is down visiting the highly popular Orange Beach or Gulf Shores, stop by the Shell Banks Cemetery and drop a prayer or two for the dead.