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13 of the most interesting Alabama entries on the Find a Grave website

Have you ever visited the website It's a favorite website of genealogists and history buffs. The site, owned by, is a database of cemeteries and those interred there. Members create entries and post photos, although not every grave is recorded or photographed. Although most entries include basic information such as birth and death dates, some include family information or more in-depth biographies. Kelly Kazek | [email protected]

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Kelly Kazek | [email protected]

Below are 13 entries that provide interesting information about some of the people, and one arachnid, buried or memorialized in Alabama.

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(Source: Left, Ron Moody; right, Shanel Troia, via

1. This baseball player inspired the film "The Natural."

Carvel William “Bama” Rowell,

New Home Baptist Church Cemetery, Citronelle

Bama Rowell was born and died in Citronelle, Ala. Rowell was a left-handed batter and an outfielder/second baseman for the Boston Bees/Braves ( to , to ) and Philadelphia Phillies ().

According to his bio written by Ron Coons, "He is best remembered for hitting a double, a prodigious shot high atop the Ebbets Field scoreboard in right field that shattered the Bulova clock, sending glass cascading down on Brooklyn right fielder Dixie Walker and inspiring novelist Bernard Malamud to write 'The Natural' six years later. Actor Robert Redford, playing Roy Hobbs, hit a similar colossal blast in the movie version." Read more about Rowell, including his well-known triple play, by clicking here.

(Source: Left, Burritt on the Mountain; right, Nala via

2. Her paintings were the inspiration for "Gone with the Wind" costumes.

Maria Howard Weeden,

Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville

Maria Howard Weeden was born and died in Huntsville, Ala. As a renowned artist and writer, she used the name Howard Weeden. Her bio says, "In her time she was known worldwide for her artwork. ..  She became best known for her paintings of slaves. Many of the costumes for 'Gone With the Wind' were based on her portraits." The home where she lived her entire life in downtown Huntsville is now the Weeden House Museum. Click here to read more.

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(Left, File Photo; right, FamilyHistory via

3. This pro wrestling character had his own action figure.

Pall Bearer, aka William Alvin Moody,

Serenity Memory Gardens, Theodore

William Alvin Moody was born and died in Mobile, Ala. He was a manager for professional wrestlers who had two “ring personas:” “Paul Bearer” and “Percival Pringle III.” His bio by Louis De Mort says, “In , he debuted as a wrestler and went by such names as Mr. X, the Embalmer and the Mortician for a several years. After the birth of his first son, he cut back his involvement in the wrestling business in order to go to school to earn a degree in mortuary science and became certified as a funeral director and embalmer.”

He eventually returned to wrestling and managed several wrestlers, including The Assassin, Lex Luger, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Undertaker and the Ultimate Warrior. Click here to read more. The photo at left shows Moody holding his action figure. The photo in the upper right corner of the first slide shows Moody in costume as Paul Bearer.

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(Source: Left, Midnight Believer; right, Russell Robideaux via

4. He performed with the Birmingham Jug Band in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels Show.

Burl "Jaybird" Coleman,

Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Bessemer

Burl Coleman was born in Gainesville and died in Tuskegee. He played the blues harmonica, which he learned to play as a child. He served in World War I and then began travelling with the minstrel show. Coleman's bio by Midnight Believer says, "Coleman made his first recordings in on the Gennett, Silvertone, and Black Patti Record labels in Birmingham, Alabama. During the s, he toured throughout Alabama, and he also made further recordings for the OKeh and Columbia Record labels." Click here to read more.

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(Source: Geoff Walden via

5. He was decapitated, becoming the first Catholic chaplain killed in an American war.

Rev. Father Emmeran Bliemel,

Holy Cross Cemetery, Tuscumbia

Father Bliemel was born in Germany and died in the battle of Jonesboro, Ga., during the Civil War. His bio says, "He was killed while serving as chaplain of the 10th Tennessee Infantry and 4th Kentucky Infantry CSA, during the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia. Father Bliemel was on the battlefield following a Confederate attack, and as he knelt to pray with the mortally wounded Col. Grace of the 10th Tennessee, an enemy cannon ball struck his head and decapitated him." Click here to read more.

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(Source: Left, Erin Lambert; right, kadzizkidz via

6. She was everyone's TV mom.

Lucille Benson,

Cedar Hill Cemetery, Scottsboro

Lucille Benson was born and died in Jackson County, Ala. She was a character actress who nearly everyone recognized, even if they didn’t know her name. Her bio by John “J-Cat” Griffith says, “She was a plump, distinctive and marvelously quirky character, known for her roles in television and movies, from the s to s. Her career started in New York in the s, appearing on Broadway in many plays. Taking a call to go to Hollywood, she made her film debut in ‘The Fugitive Kind.’”

She also appeared on "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Waltons" and "The Dukes of Hazzard." Click here for the full bio.

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(Source: K Steacy vis

7. She was the first eight-legged passenger in space.

Arabella the Spider, died

U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville

Arabella was a common female garden spider selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to go into space. Scientists wanted to determine the effects of near-weightlessness on a spider’s ability to spin webs.

Her bio says, "Sent into orbit in on the Skylab 3 space station. Named 'Arabella' by NASA, the spider was initially disorientated, but eventually spun a number of webs, which were not much different symmetry-wise than Earth-spun webs, but had varied in degrees of thickness." Arabella died in space. Her remains are displayed at the U.S. Space And Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

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(Source: John "J-Cat" Griffith via

8. She was a soloist for Duke Ellington.

Lil Greenwood,

Catholic Cemetery, Mobile

Lil Greenwood was born in Prichard and died in Mobile. She was a jazz and blues singer best known for her work with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Her bio says, "The daughter of a Baptist Church minister, she was raised with the sound of Gospel music and the desire of becoming a singer. After attending Alabama State College, she embarked on her career in , moving to the California Bay-area and finding her break with bandleader Roy Milton & His Solid Senders… Greenwood was hired by an impressed Duke Ellington to be a soloist for his orchestra." Click here for more singing credits and information.

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(Source: Left, GraveAddiction via; right, photo by Mathew Brady via National Archives)

9. This Army officer arrested Aaron Burr for treason.

Edmund Pendleton Gaines,

Church Street Cemetery, Mobile

Edmund Gaines was born in Virginia and died in Louisiana. He was a U.S. Army major general who arrested Aaron Burr for treason after Burr had killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and later headed West, where he was charged in a "conspiracy regarding capitalization on a possible war with Spain." He was arrested and confined at Fort Stoddert in Alabama.

His bio by Mark Gaines Jessop says, "Surveyed the Gaines trace between Nashville and Natchez. Served under Andrew Jackson in the Creek and Seminole campaigns, and served in the Black Hawk War." Click here to read more.

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(Source: Left, Stonewall via; right, Wikimedia Commons)

Mark Twain's cousin was also a writer.

Jeremiah Clemens,

Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville

Clemens was born and died in Huntsville, Ala. His bio by GraveAddiction says, "Served as a United States Senator from Alabama from to Also served as a member of the Alabama State Legislature. A cousin of legendary author Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), he was also the author of books including "A Tale of the Times of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton." Click here to see the full bio.

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(Left, Ben Chapman's Goudey baseball card via Wikimedia Commons; right, Bill Lee, the Baseball Undertaker via

He led the league in stolen bases.

Ben Chapman,

Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham

Ben Chapman was born in Nashville and died in Hoover. He played in fifteen seasons in Major League Baseball. His bio by C.S. says, "Gifted with great speed he led the American League in stolen bases from to and He was named to the American League All Star Team four times in his career." Click here for the full bio.

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He developed the first heart-lung bypass machine.

John Webster Kirklin,

Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham

John Kirklin was born in Indiana and died in Birmingham. His bio by Dennis Ison says, "A father of modern heart surgery whose recruitment in put UAB on the map as a medical mecca, his contributions to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and medical science were profound and vast. At the Mayo Clinic before going to UAB, he perfected the heart-lung bypass machine. Dr. Kirklin's group at the Rochester, Minn., clinic developed the first consistently successful mode of open-heart surgery and performed the first series of successful surgeries using the bypass machine in " Click here to read more.

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(Left, photo via Wikimedia Commons; right, Lisa Renee via

His book was made into the film "Full Metal Jacket."

Gustav “Gus” Hasford,

Winston Memorial Cemetery, Haleyville

Gus Hasford was born in Russellville, Ala., and died in Greece. He served as a combat correspondent for the Marines in Vietnam. He later wrote several books about his experiences, including “The Short-Timers,” which was made into the Stanley Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket.”

His bio by Garver Graver says, "Hasford collaborated with Kubrick and author Michael Herr on the screenplay to what would become the motion picture "Full Metal Jacket" … Hasford's personality led him to clash with Kubrick and Herr, but all three were nominated for Academy Awards in A voracious reader and bibliophile, he made news when he was arrested in in San Luis Obispo, California and charged with having stolen some library books." Click here to read the full bio.

Click here to read “12 surprising facts about Gus Hasford and ‘Full Metal Jacket.’”

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More fascinating stories about graves and cemeteries

READ MORE:The story behind the south's tent-shaped grave covers

READ MORE: When you visit these 4 public places in Alabama, you're probably walking across graves

READ MORE: 9 clever epitaphs at Alabama cemetery used as film location

READ MORE: These Alabama headstones have intriguing backstories

READ MORE: 19 Southern epitaphs to make you LOL

READ MORE: 21 symbols found on southern graves; what do they mean?

READ MORE: 21 unintentionally creepy Alabama cemetery monuments

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And find even more here

Click here to see Kelly Kazek's Grave Encounters Pinterest board.

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