Tag Archives: Georgia Cemeteries

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, Jackson County

This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.

By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.

Date Plate from Restoration of Main House [1914]

When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.

Log Cabin
Commissary [1900]
Blacksmith’s Shop & Carpenter’s Shop [1900]
Tractor Barn
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--

St. Paul Methodist Church, Carroll County

St. Paul was established in the 1860s. A sign on the property indicates 1869, but there are burials in the cemetery dating to 1864, which suggest a slightly earlier date. It’s near the Hulett community.


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Filed under --CARROLL COUNTY GA--

Bowen Family Cemetery, 1830s, Carroll County

This fascinating cemetery is located in the McIntosh Reserve Park, a property associated with Chief William McIntosh and maintained as a public park by Carroll County.

The Bowen family were pioneers in this area and likely had some connection to Chief McIntosh, perhaps as traders or through some other association.

The earliest discernible burial in the cemetery dates to 1830.

Though many names have been lost over time, this cemetery is important not only for its historical connection to early settlers but for its limestone slab (or other local stone?) tombs, which are quite rare today.

It’s a well-preserved example of a family burying ground utilizing materials on hand and offers a fascinating glimpse into the funerary practices of early-19th century rural Georgia

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Filed under --CARROLL COUNTY GA--

Gravesite of Governor Ernest Vandiver, Lavonia

Samuel Ernest Vandiver, Jr., (1918-2005) who was born in nearby Canon, served as Georgia’s 73rd governor from 1959-1963. During his administration, the archaic county unit system that gave local political bosses vast power, was ended. This was seen as a step forward for Georgia but angered many of its beneficiaries. Honesty and fiscal responsibility were hallmarks of Governor Vandiver’s term. After leaving the governor’s office, he practiced law, first in Atlanta and then back in Lavonia. His wife, Betty, was a niece of U. S. Senator Richard B. Russell.


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Filed under --FRANKLIN COUNTY GA--, Lavonia GA

Hillcrest Cemetery, Bowman

The Bowman City Cemetery was renamed Hillcrest in 1947. Many of the gravestones and the pavilion are much earlier.

The angel monument overlooking the Gloer family plot is perhaps the most ornate in the cemetery. Several of the burials in this plot date to the 1890s and early 1900s.

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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--, Bowman GA

Smyrna United Methodist Church, Hancock County

The only history I can locate regarding this historic church was written by Sarah Waller McCleskey circa 1951. She did note that since the records of the congregation have been lost or misplaced over time she was unable to authenticate dates. What follows is abridged from her history.

A congregation first met here in a brush arbor and then a church known as Piney Grove Meeting House. Upon construction of the present structure in 1790, it became known as Smyrna Methodist Church. It is believed to be the second oldest Methodist congregation in Georgia. Bishop Francis Asbury reportedly preached here while the church was under construction. [Mrs. McCleskey’s account states that the construction date of 1790 “is attested by the foundation, which is constructed of hewn sills joined with wooden pegs”. Though it is an indicator of an era of construction, it is not a definitive way to accurately date the structure, which I believe to be of 19th century origin.]

While Mrs. McCleskey wrote that some gravesites “show the marks of time to such an extent that that the names on the markers are scarcely legible”, I only saw memorials from the late 19th and the 20th centuries. I wish I’d had time to explore further because it is a delightful spot.


Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Allman Brothers Band Gravesite, Macon

The Allman Brothers Band is one of the best-loved groups in rock and roll history and they considered their early association with Macon integral to their success.  For nearly five decades visiting the gravesite of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley at Rose Hill Cemetery has been a pilgrimage for many of their most devoted fans. In recent years, iron fencing has been placed around the graves to prevent vandalism and other unwelcome activities.

Tragedy first struck the band on 29 October 1971, when Duane Allman died as the result of a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Bartlett Street.

Just over a year later, on 11 November 1972, Berry Oakley met the same fate within blocks of where Duane had crashed.

After years on the road leading the band and doing his own solo projects, Gregg Allman died on 27 May 2017. It was always his wish to be reunited with Duane and Berry in Rose Hill. A formal memorial has yet to be placed, but plans have been made to expand the fencing to incorporate his gravesite.

Many fans have already visited and left souvenirs and remembrances.

To visit the site, turn right inside the gate and drive down to the Old Hebrew Burial Grounds, marked by a brick and wrought iron arch. You can usually park by the large oak tree and walk a bit down the hill to your left to reach the graves. Be warned, though, that driving in the cemetery is difficult due to very narrow lanes.

Rose Hill Cemetery, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BIBB COUNTY GA--, Macon GA

Historic Mount Gilead Baptist Church Cemetery, Lumpkin County


Located in the Garland community, this historic cemetery is characterized by a number of soapstone box and slot-and-tab tombs. Twenty cemeteries located within an 11-mile radius of Wahoo Baptist Church, in Lumpkin, White, and Hall counties feature these unique grave markers, with two others in Pickens and Jackson counties. Tom Kunesh of Tennessee is the authority on these mysterious adornments and has been researching them for years.


Most of the soapstone grave markers in Mount Gilead Cemetery are simple boxes, as opposed to the slightly more elaborate slot-and-tab variety, but there are fourteen documented examples here.


The varied sizes, as seen above, would seem to indicate adult and child burials.


There is a singular beauty to these objects, speaking to the utilitarian needs of congregants and the skill of area carvers. Kunesh suggests that these were essentially empty boxes placed over the burial as a decorative means of preventing open-range livestock from stepping into freshly dug graves, as well as a foil against “resurrectionists” from digging remains.


The slot-and-tab variety is uncommon at Mount Gilead, but on one of the tabs is the only burial on which a name (Lowry) is legible.


There are several “clusters” of these markers, suggesting family plots, and several which stand alone.


Some of the tombs have begun to collapse.


Others, as seen below, have completely sunk. The rectangular slab atop the tombs is known as a ledger stone. It’s possible that in some cases, only a ledger stone was used, similar to a modern slab.


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Filed under --LUMPKIN COUNTY GA--, Garland GA

Locust Grove Cemetery, 1794, Sharon

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Headstones Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

This sacred ground, Georgia’s first and oldest Catholic cemetery, is a great place for walking around and exploring. A real sense of peace came over me when I was there. Though none of the late-18th-century burials are marked or discernible today, the first burial was recorded here in 1794. Fieldstones mark some graves and those are likely the earliest burials.  The headstones are similar to the styles you’d find in Savannah or Charleston, not in the Georgia Piedmont.

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Headstone with Reolutionary War Flag Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

One of the more interesting interments is that of Lieutenant John Cratin of the 2nd Maryland Regiment, Revolutionary War. Lieutenant Cratin was among the first Catholic settlers of Georgia. Born in 1752 in Maryland, he died on 8 September 1826 in Locust Grove.

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Stone Enclosure Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

The stone enclosure pictured above is a relatively common construction in cemeteries of this age in the Piedmont.

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Broken Headstone Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

John Burke (b. 1784, County Tipperary, Ireland – d. 25 September 1846)

Though a few headstones are damaged, the greatest danger to most is the erosion of the script due to nearly 200 years of exposure to the elements.

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

If you ever find yourself in the area, take the time to visit Locust Grove. You won’t be disappointed.

Locust Grove Oldest Catholic Cemetery in Georgia Sharon Taliaferro County Headstone Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

Thomas Turley (b. 1807, Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland – d. 20 November 1835)

A list of interments at Locust Grove, compiled by Drexel Beck, can be viewed here.


Filed under --TALIAFERRO COUNTY GA--, Sharon GA

Siloam Cemetery, Established 1878

Siloam Cemetery Greene County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Located adjacent to Siloam Presbyterian and across the street from Siloam Baptist, this cemetery was established on land owned by Siloam (then Smyrna) Baptist for use by the community. Granite fenceposts around some of the plots are a neat feature throughout the cemetery.

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Siloam GA