By Lee Weyhrich
On July 4, 1776, the founders of this nation declared independence from Britain.
In 1777 Edward Tatum, who would one day become a resident of the Pinson area, took an oath of allegiance to the Henry County Militia of Virginia.
Tatum eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant and would serve at the 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a pivotal victory for the young country. He also fought at Eutaw Springs, the final battle of the Carolinas, and at Yorktown, Va., the final major battle of the American Revolution.
According to many-times-great grandson Steven Baird, Tatum first came to Alabama as a scout with his friend John Hanby.
“They knew each other during the Revolutionary War,” Baird said. “As the story goes, they were ordered to come this way to scout the area. Around 1813 they noticed the minerals. Around 1816 they came back.”
Hanby, a blacksmith and engineer, is credited as one of the first people to discover coal in Jefferson County. The two became business partners, founding the Turkey Creek grist mill in what is now modern-day Pinson.
Tatum’s daughters stayed in the Mount Pinson area while Tatum moved between Virginia and Alabama. In 1819, he settled in what is now McCalla. In 1822, he moved to Mount Pinson to be closer to his daughters, and that is where he is buried.
The Baird-Tatum Cemetery is Tatum’s final resting place, and it is on land that once belonged to his business partner.
“He would have likely been pleased to know so many of his decedents still live in the area,” Baird said.
The cemetery was dedicated June 8 in a ceremony presided over by the Sons of the American Revolution as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“I just thought this was a very important day for the community, and the city by the SAR and the DAR,” Pinson Historical Society President Sue Churchwell said. “There was a great turnout of close to 100 people. These types of things aren’t held very often, so this is a unique type of program we had.”
Tatum’s grave was recently destroyed after it was damaged during recent storms. The society was able to raise enough money to make repairs.
Baird said he hoped people will remember the sacrifices made by soldiers from the first Independence Day through today. He said the recent dedication of the grave of a revolutionary soldier should be a reminder of this community’s ties to the past.
“This is still a part of your history,” Baird said. “These people fought for what we have today. Whether they were farmers, or in the war, they fought for what you have. Pinson is so rich in history that it would be a shame for us to forget it. We really need to keep this story as a foundation. The building block of the community is our history.”