Havana UMC Gravestone lettering rgb Thomas Gray wrote one of the best known and best loved poems in England when he penned those lines to “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard.” It was late in the evening, in a moment of quiet solitude, when he walked among the graves, hearing in the distance the tinkling of cowbells and the sound of an owl. As he reflected upon all of the individuals, both rich and poor, that were buried there and the legacies of each, Gray was inspired to pen those familiar lines,

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

I thought of those words of Thomas Gray recently when I stopped by the beautiful Havana United Methodist Church, located between Moundville and Greensboro in Hale County, and visited the grave of Julia Tutwiler. She was born on August 15, 1841, the third of eleven children. She was reared in Havana, home of her father’s Greene Springs School for Boys. I would like to believe that her Christian faith was shaped by her parents, fellow church members, and ministers that were a part of that small Methodist congregation. She attended Vassar College before furthering her education in both Germany and France, along with private professors at Washington and Lee University. She served as President of Livingston State Normal School, where in 1892 ten of her Livingston-educated students became the first women admitted to the University of Alabama. Thereafter, she became known as the “mother of co-education in Alabama.” Tutwiler became such a strong advocate for prison reform that she was called the “Angel of the Stockades.” She unapologetically proclaimed that the Christian conversion of prisoners would result in transformation of lives. As one who offered her spiritual gifts to God, Tutwiler wrote the lyrics to the state song, “Alabama,” and concluded with the words,

“Little, little can I give thee, Alabama mother mine; But that little---hand, brain, spirit, All I have, and am are thine.”

When she died on March 24, 1916, Tutwiler left $16,000 in a scholarship fund and a marvelous legacy to all of us. Reflecting upon her life, I am reminded that each of us will leave a legacy, something that will outlive our earthly lives. For some it might be a social reformer, a military leader, or athlete, but for the vast majority, it will be something as simple as being a dedicated teacher, a loving parent or grandparent, a faithful friend, or even a generous supporter of our seminary students! -Karl K. Stegall