David Butler is in search of hundreds of old graves.
The Martinez resident's goal is to chronicle the grave sites of Confederate veterans from Columbia County using a camera and Global Positioning System coordinates.
"Basically, I want to make sure these men who fought for their country are remembered," said Butler, a member of Columbia County's Maj. Gen. Ambrose Ransom Wright Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1914 and descendent of Confederate soldiers from Virginia and northwest Georgia.
The book being written by Butler, who also is a Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue captain, will include soldiers from McDuffie County as well because that area was part of Columbia County during the Civil War.
Butler said he hasn't been able to locate his own ancestors' graves and hopes the book will motivate historians to take up the work elsewhere.
"Most people don't know their family's history," he said, adding that population growth and development are concealing many of the landmarks of the county's past.
Butler has scoured through state and national archives to research former soldiers. He already has identified about 300 graves between Columbia and McDuffie counties and said more than 500 soldiers from Columbia County served.
His largest find was 100 graves in the cemetery next to Thomson Middle School.
Butler said his book, which hasn't been titled yet, will include a foreword, explaining his drive and the research that was involved.
All grave sites mentioned will include the soldier's name, regiment, a photograph and detailed directions to the grave, including the GPS coordinates.
He said there are countless unmarked graves in the area, and some contain Confederate soldiers who might never be identified.
After about a year of research, Butler recently completed his tour through cemeteries in Columbia County. He was aided by Sacred to the Memory of Cemeteries and Burial Sites of Columbia County, Georgia, a book co-written by former local historian Bill Blackard.
That book made no mention of Confederate soldiers, and most grave stones don't mention the namesake's service, Butler said.
Butler is asking the community for help in locating private family cemeteries in McDuffie County.
To reach Butler, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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