Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Cornelius Benjamin (Bennie) Keeton Memorial

Shady Grove (Keeton Cemetery), Walker County, Alabama

September 16, 2001

The thirtieth session of the annual Sacred Harp singing was held at Shady Grove Church, better known as Keeton Cemetery, in Nauvoo, Alabama on the third Sunday in September. This singing is dedicated to the memory of C.B. (Bennie) Keeton who was a great lover of Sacred Harp singing. He taught several schools in Alabama and in Tennessee.

The class was called to order by Travis Keeton, extending a warm welcome to everyone and then leading song on page 73t. The morning prayer was offered by Harrison Creel.

The class was organized by electing or appointing the following officers to serve: Chairman—Travis Keeton; Vice Chairman—Glenn Keeton; Arranging Committee—Willodean Barton; Secretary—Lena Keeton.

Leaders: Travis Keeton 288, 30t; Winell Sanders 225t; L.E. Hannah 349, 523; Ivalene Donaldson 39b, 166; Ida Lee Starnes 111b, 448b; Kermit Adams 78, 99.

A letter received from Bradford West of Manhattan, New York was read by Gary Smith. In the letter, Mr. West spoke of the terrorist attacks on the New York City’s twin towers of the World Trade Center and how devastating it was. They have a group of Sacred Harp singers there in Manhattan and they planned to have their singing on this date. We remember all the people who lost their lives and those injured in this terrible tragedy that occurred in our great county on September 11, 2001. Gary Smith then led songs on pages 565 and 31t.

Leaders: Margaret Gowan 141, 30b; Ken Tate 75, 270; Betty Wright 569b, 410t; Linton Ballinger 110; Faye Donaldson 138t, 430.


The class resumed singing with Glenn Keeton leading song on page 64. Glenn Keeton then spoke of his grandfather, Bennie Keeton, and how he had heard of his love for Sacred Harp and the singing schools he had taught, and then led song on page 354 (t? b?) in his memory.

Leaders: Larry Ballinger 206; Lisa Geist 299, 68b (Lisa’s lesson was dedicated to her cousin Kim who is ill); John Merritt 137; John Merritt stated that “the price of our faith and our freedom is not cheap” and asked the class to stand and sing “America”; Margaret Keeton 419 (requested by Brenda Merritt); Gravis Ballinger 101t, 300; Amber Springfield 29t, 142; John Hocutt 135, 321; Sarah Smith 129, 445; Elvin Guthrie 479, 544.

Edwin Ballinger’s father-in-law passed away and Linton Ballinger, Larry Ballinger, Gravis Ballinger, and Lisa Geist had to leave at this time to attend the funeral.


The afternoon session was brought together with Travis Keeton leading song on page 343. Leaders: Roma Rice 102, 285t; Marlin Beasley made the statement “I’ve never been more proud to be an American than I am today”, then led 336, 426t; Brenda Merritt 192; Brenda Merritt and John Hocutt 475; John Hyde 168, 297; Edith Tate 146, 212; Harrison Creel 89, 512; Eldagene Roberson 399b, 215; Velton Chafin 564, 278b; Flarce Creel 217; Henry Guthery 465, 431 (lesson dedicated to the people in New York and elsewhere who are suffering); Lena Keeton, her son (Glenn Keeton), and daughter (Gwen Cornelius) 235, 47b, 45t (in memory of Bennie Keeton, Lena Keeton’s father, and for cousins Wallace Keeton and Ethan Johnson who were in attendance); Marie Guthrie 389, 434; Alene Woodley 77t, 83t; L.H. Gilmore and Estelle Gilmore 376, 34t; Latrieve Bailey 358; Josie Hyde 200 (dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Milford Watts who are ill); Willodean Barton 44, 82t (in memory of Elmer Conwill).

Announcements were made. Travis Keeton and Glenn Keeton led song on page 348 (t? b?), and the class was dismissed with prayer led by John Merritt.

Chairman—Travis Keeton; Vice Chairman—Glenn Keeton; Secretary—Lena Keeton.