On July 18, 1863, the townsfolk of Clayton, Alabama, buried William T. Mullen between two bottles of whiskey. The specially shaped tombstones are a fitting tribute to a man who loved his drink.
Mullen lived hard and died young. He was born in Talbotton, Georgia, on June 18, 1834. By 1860 he had moved to Clayton and met the county jailor’s daughter, a young woman named Mary Williams. The two married at the jail on September 11 of that year. Just four months later, Alabama formally withdrew from the Union. Though Mullen volunteered to serve in the Confederate army and became second lieutenant of the 5th Alabama Infantry, he lasted two months before he resigned and returned to Clayton.
The year after William came home, he and Mary had a daughter, also named Mary. But family life was less than harmonious. William’s constant drunkenness reportedly upset his wife so much that she threatened to bury him beneath a bottle-shaped tombstone when he inevitably died young. In 1863, her prophecy came true. William did indeed die from the effects of excessive drinking, and Mary kept her promise. William’s gravesite at Clayton City Cemetery has not one but two bottle-shaped tombstones on it, one at his feet and the other at his head.
Sadly, baby Mary died just one month after her father. She is also buried at the cemetery.
Know Before You Go
Enter the cemetery between the First Baptist Church and the First Methodist Church.