A Buried Heritage From the Previous Athens Cemetery

Many individuals while in the Athens and University of Ga communities are familiar with the Outdated Athens Cemetery, also often called the Jackson Avenue Cemetery, since it is located prominently together Jackson Street, in between the outdated Visible Arts creating and Baldwin Hall. What Many individuals do not know would be that the borders of the burial floor formerly extended A great deal even further than The present gated area seen these days. Although some of the initial land with the Old Athens Cemetery is demarcated and preserved, other areas of the burial floor, like parts with unmarked graves and graves marked by uncomplicated, uninscribed “fieldstones,” have already been created on because the College of Ga grew.

Higher education Hill was the primary burial place for Athens. In 1815, long term burials ended up prohibited in the region and a little bit of land was enclosed and specified as Outdated Athens Cemetery. Substantially of the earlier percentage of the cemetery was coated by properties and houses. The laying of railroad tracks, widening of Thomas Avenue, and the construction with the Visible Arts making and Baldwin Hall (1930s) also encroached on the first land in the Previous Athens Cemetery, producing areas of it visually unrecognizable being a burial ground. In the course of these constructions, it had been not likely that any with the burials were taken off. Multiple historic newspaper content Be aware human bones washing up all through weighty down pours and in resident’s gardens. While the part of the cemetery that is outlined right now by a stately iron fence is distinguishable like a cemetery through the a lot of stone monoliths and tombstones marking its ~nineteenth c. graves, the part which has been overlooked as time passes consisted of unmarked graves, and graves marked by very simple, uninscribed “fieldstones,” or maybe picket markers, which have proved considerably less enduring in the general public consciousness. The maps under exhibit how the landscape around the Aged Athens Cemetery modified from the late 1800s to the present day. Note the development of houses into the east and west in the cemetery by 1934 and the development of Baldwin Corridor after 1937.

The Previous Athens burial ground was in use within the 1790s right until the 1880s or 1890s, Though it was formally shut in 1856. A Southern Banner short article printed in 1872 on Athens mortality pointed out that in 1871, fourteen whites and 46 blacks had been buried during the Jackson Avenue and Oconee Hill cemeteries. Compared with most cemeteries, the Aged Athens burial ground was general public property and burial plots necessary no rate. Oconee Hill Cemetery opened in 1856. Progressively midexoutlet following that time, burials occurred in Oconee Hill, instead of Aged Athens. Possessing appreciable charm for a “rural cemetery” that epitomized a different Victorian ideal for city cemeteries, Oconee Hill was so attractive that numerous people today buried in Outdated Athens were being exhumed by their kinfolk, and moved to new plots obtained Oconee Hill. Even so, black individuals that, given the time period have been very likely enslaved at some time of their Dying or sooner or later through their life, ended up buried during the flood simple of Oconee Hill, as well as their families were being restricted from erecting monuments or perhaps checking out their graves. By the early 1900s, black individuals were prohibited from becoming buried at Oconee Hill Cemetery. Within the 1880s, Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery and Brooklyn Cemetery opened to support Athens’ escalating Black populace. As cited in the recent Athens Banner-Herald write-up, regional historian Al Hester mentioned that “African Individuals commenced using the black cemetery at Gospel Pilgrim within the 1880s not simply on account of segregation but mainly because they sought sanctuary from continually viewing their ancestors dug up and paved in excess of, becoming instructed what stones to erect, and being prohibited from checking out family and friends” (one).


Many historic newspaper article content characterize people who were interred while in the Old Athens Cemetery. As stated in the 1999 Crimson and Black Information paper post, ” the Old Athens Cemetery is the final resting spot of troopers from the two the Revolutionary and Civil Wars…together with other notable citizens with the Athens spot,” like college students and two UGA presidents – Robert Finley and Moses Waddel (2). On the other hand, almost never acknowledged in these historic archives are individuals of shade that were buried in the cemetery, who, specified the time period from the cemetery, were being most likely enslaved. Only a few historic newspaper articles point out that enslaved Africans were being buried from the Previous Athens Cemetery. By way of example, in the 1995 Red and Black write-up, Patricia Cooper mentioned which the cemetery was for all of Athens – “wealthy people today, lousy folks, and slave people are all buried there” (3). In a very 1978 Red and Black newspaper article, Dean Tate acknowledged that “slave burials” were encountered during the first design of Baldwin Corridor (4).

On the other hand, this information has not been misplaced amongst black Group members with prolonged roots in Athens, Georgia. In fact, the record on the Previous Athnes Cemetery continues to be a matter for a variety of years in Athen’s Black Background Bowl – a tutorial Competitors led by Athens resident and historian, Fred Smith. Other oral histories incorporate a quote by an ex-slave interviewed as Portion of the Federal Writers Project during the 1930s:

“After i passes by de old graveyard on Jackson Street, I ‘customers many folkses whats buried dar, bofe white folkses and slaves much too, for den white folkses set dey slaves whar dey aimed to become buried deyselves. Dat sho’ was once a good graveyard.” – Willis Cofer, born into slavery 1860; interviewed 1938 Of Unique curiosity Here’s gatherings bordering the construction of Baldwin Corridor in 1937. Over the despair, federal funds, especially from the Public Is effective Administration, poured into campus building assignments. The Photograph underneath displays from 1937 reveals the foundations of Baldwin Hall getting dug on the edge on the old university graveyard over the north campus. A recent Athens Banner-Herald post cited a report to the College that said which the stays were choose from exactly where “colored individuals from Athens experienced be interred; quite a few tibias, vertebrae and grinning skulls of colored brothers ended up unearthed and thrown ‘around the dump,’ while surviving kin and good friends of silent sleepers On this city with the lifeless shuddered to think about what an extension of constructing development would indicate” (1). On the other hand, it’s been claimed that for the duration of the development of Baldwin Corridor, the remains of enslaved Africans had been exhumed and relocated to possibly a pauper cemetery on Nowhere Road or in a area that is certainly now owned by Athens Waterworks