CULLMAN, Ala. – A rededication of the Brindley Cemetery was held Friday afternoon with the descendants of Mace Thomas Payne Brindley (Brindley Mountain namesake) in attendance. The family swapped stories passed down over the years as they remembered the man and his family who first settled the area in 1832.
The Brindley Cemetery, which dates back nearly 170 years, is an Alabama historical landmark located in the southern Brindley Mountain Range near Simcoe in Cullman County. It is the resting place of early Alabama landowner, banker and legislator Mace Thomas Payne Brindley, eight of his family members and seven others, including two young children who died during the Typhoid epidemic. All the graves date to the second half the 19th century.
Family members have cared for the cemetery for the past century and a half, and though restoration work took place around the time of Cullman’s Centennial in the mid-1970s, time and the elements took an inevitable toll. The rock wall, wrought-iron fence and rock bench deteriorated and grew unstable, presenting a safety risk and threatening the integrity of two of the graves. A portion of the sidewalk was damaged by tree roots, one headstone was broken and the parking area needed replacing.
In 2019, Ray Buchmann, a longtime Cullman resident, civic leader and great-great-great-grandson of Mace Thomas Payne Brindley, launched an effort to repair and restore the cemetery. The Cullman County Historical Society assisted in securing a grant from the state of Alabama in August 2019 that funded about one-third of the project, estimated to cost about $30,000. The rest of the funding came from organizations and individual contributions, with the Cullman County Road Department providing some of the labor.
The work took place over the next year–and–a–half, interrupted temporarily by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rock wall was demolished and rebuilt, the fence was replaced, vegetation was cleared, the sidewalk was repaired and the concrete slab in the parking area was replaced. The project was completed in April 2021.
When asked about the importance of the project, Ray said, “Sometimes, an opportunity only comes once. This was our opportunity to preserve an irreplaceable piece of the Brindley family history, and I’m so glad we were able to see it through.”
Ray thanked Drew Green and Julie Burks from the Cullman County Museum, Representative Randall Shedd and the Cullman County Road Department for their dedication and contributions toward the restoration project.
Ray’s wife Benton spoke at the ceremony about the three projects Ray has been involved in over the past several years. Each year, the Buchmann’s donate a new musical instrument to the Cullman Middle School Band. The second project was Ray’s quest to have the new bridge on Eva Road named for Hugh P. Brindley Sr. With that project completed, he focused on the restoration of the family’s cemetery.
She said, “Today, this has come to fruition so we can go dance.”
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