The girls and I were driving home from school one day last week when Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” came on the radio. Sarah in particular loves to sing, and she has my gift for remembering song lyrics. Shortly after she sang the verse below--Last call it's 2am, I said goodbye to him,
I never talked to him again.
Then one sunny day, I saw the old man’s face.
Front page obituary, he was a millionaire.
He left his fortune to, some guy he barely knew.
His kids were mad as hell. But me, I’m doing well.
And I dropped by today, to just say thanks and pray.
I left a six-pack right there on his grave, and I said,
God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
--Sarah said, “Mama, I think that when we go to the 100 Acre Wood this weekend, we should leave something on Sgt. John’s grave.” “Wow,” I said, “that’s a great idea! What would you like to leave him?” “Well, I bet he liked oysters, so I think we should leave him some oyster shells.” So there you have it, Sgt. John; have some oysters. Livvie added the red berries in case the oysters were too salty.
That got my curiosity up. Just who was Sgt. John Nathan Spearing anyway? And why is he the only marked grave in the Theodore Roosevelt area outside of the Browne Cemetery? The park shares the story of the Brownes right there on the trail, but nothing about Sgt. John. So I did a little research and found that John Nathan Spearing was the original owner of the property. When he and his wife settled in the Jacksonville area after the Civil War, they first settled in "the city," as the area where this land now sits was far out of the city at that time. Spearing eventually wanted more room and settled on this land. It was he who sold the land to the Browne family, with the condition that when he died, he be buried in a pre-selected spot on the property. His original gravesite was not where this tombstone now sits. When his original grave was vandalized, Mr. Willie (Browne) moved the grave and stone to this spot, which is very close to the spot where Mr. Willie loved to sit and watch the marsh and river beyond. Very interesting!