Category Archives: Cemeteries

Behavior Cemetery, Georgia

Sapelo Island, McIntosh County

Behavior Cemetery is an active cemetery believed to have been in existence prior to the Civil War. It now serves as a burial ground for the descendants of the earliest Black families who have called Sapelo Island home.

Boston Gardner’s grave features a clock. The clock likely represents the passing of time.

The cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The cemetery features many handmade markers that span several decades and more recent granite markers. Burial patterns are not in rows, and the older burials towards the middle and back of the cemetery.

Vases can be seen in many cemeteries, especially coastal ones.
Liberty Bell, 1900-1912
A fleur de lis next to the grave of Isabella Robinson, 1858-1889. In religion, it can represent the Holy Trinity. Additionally, some enslaved men and women were branded with a fleur de lis as punishment for trying to escape bondage.
Glasco Grovner, 1856-1928
Mary Lemon, 1906-1919. The star motif can be seen in many coastal cemeteries.
Deacon Grant Johnson, 1892-1956. The letter stamping is common method to mark headstones.
A modern memento
I believe these are giant checkers.
If you look closely, you can see the rebar and the mesh. It gives an idea of how some of these markers were made.

Hutcherson Cemetery, Georgia

Meridian, McIntosh County

This is a family cemetery where the family name is either Hutcherson or Hutchinson. Based on the repetition of names, this cemetery has been in use for a hundred years. It is still an active cemetery as seen by the last photo. Throughout the cemetery, there is pvc pipe next to markers. In most of them, there were silk flowers placed inside like a small vase.

Pin Point Cemetery, Georgia

Pin Point, Chatham County
Edward Anderson

Pin Point Cemetery shares land with the Sweetfield of Eden Baptist Church. It’s a small cemetery in the heart of the fishing community founded by freedmen and women from the Sea Islands. I cannot discern if the Pin Point Cemetery and Sweetfield of Eden graveyard are the same or if there was a boundary line that was no longer apparent.

Reverend Peter Famble

Ella Garmon
Margaret Devoe
Clarence Fleming, 1994-2017

Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church, Georgia

Liberty County

The Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church formed out of the Sunbury Baptist Chirch (c. 1806). During an 1846 census, the church had 161 men and women in bondage that enslaved by the white members of the church.

In June of 1866, this church was founded. they held services until 1918, the it was decided to relocate the church to the current site.

Talbird Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head, Beaufort County
A view of Skull Creek

Talbird/Tabor/Talbot Cemetery is the largest Gullah cemetery on Hilton Head Island. On one side are condos and the other is Skull Creek. The cemetery’s founding is in the 1800s, but the exact date is not known. The Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church tends to the cemetery that experienced significant damage during Hurricane Matthew.

Katie Miller, 1854-1935. This is one of several crosses like this in the cemetery and other cemeteries on the island. This marker was damaged during Hurricane Matthew.
Corporal Worden White fought as part of the United States Colored Infantry in the Civil War.
Josephine Jones
Rosemary Greene, 1944-1948
Mary Jane Bryan, 1893-1936
Reverend I. S. Green, founder of Second Corinthian Baptist Church in New York City
Ida Jones, 1895-1921 “Softly and tenderly Jesus is colling.”

Drayton Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Mitchelville was the first town built for newly freedmen and women in 1862 after Hilton Head fell to Union troops in 1861. The town was named for Union general, Ormsby Mitchel, who set up this town with roads, churches, and homes.

Drayton Cemetery is another Gullah Cemetery connects directly to those original freed men and women, as it is believed this cemetery started before the start of the Civil War.

It features several markers of members of the United States Colored Infantry.

It is cared for by the congregation at St. James Baptist Church.

Based on her age, Louisa Small experienced slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the retaliation against Reconstruction.
An interesting funeral wreath

Joe Pope Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Founded in the mid to late 1800s, Joe Pope Cemetery is one of several Gullah cemeteries on Hilton Head Island. The land is owned by the Queen’s Chapel AME Church, but it is maintained by the Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.

Benjamin Singleton, 1906-1947
Ben Singleton, 1857-1928. Notice the three linked chains which commonly represents the Odd Fellows and for fidelity, love, and truth. He was likely an Odd Fellow.
Viola Mitchel, 1905-1958

Braddock’s Point Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Flanked by condos and one of the many golf courses on Hilton Island is an historic cemetery called Braddock’s Point Cemetery. While the earliest death date on a marker is during the Civil War, it is believed this also served as a burial ground for the people held in bondage at the nearby Braddock Point Plantation.

One of the burial practices with the Gullah Geechee people is to bury their loved ones with personal items. Sometimes it is the last dish they used, or another object of importance. Braddock’s Point Cemetery illustrates older and more modern interpretations of this practice.

My assumption is that there was a plate in this grave marker that was lost over time.
This marker is one that I’ve seen repeated in several coastal cemeteries.
One of the few markers with a corresponding footstone.
A more modern take of using plates and seashells

Noah’s Ark Baptist Church, Georgia

Keysville, Burke County

Noah’s Ark Baptist Church was organized in 1864 in Burke County, Georgia. It was one of the founding churches for newly freedmen and women in Burke County. Starting under a brush arbor, the congregation moved into a tenant located near where their current church building stands.

Noah Smith donated land to build the first church. after the first two buildings were destroyed by wind and fire, They moved to their following location, where two more buildings were built. The building above was built in 1883 at a cost of $1900. It was in use until 2006. The congregation is now active at a new sanctuary.

This is a common headstone seen in Black church cemeteries throughout Burke and Jefferson counties.
An interesting marker in the cemetery.
An outside view of one of the windows
A view through a broken window shows the state of the church with more than a decade of being unused.

Ma Rainey, Georgia

Columbus, Muscogee County

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey Pridgett (1886-1939) is considered the “Mother of Blues.” Columbus, Georgia was her home which is where she was born.

She started performing by the age of 14 and began touring as part of vaudeville and minstrel shows. Known for her dynamic performances, Ma Rainey made a name for herself as she toured the country.

The Ma Rainey house, now a museum, was the home that Ma purchased for her mother and where she moved into upon her return to Columbus. Initially, the home was the typical shotgun that can still be seen in the neighborhood, but Rainey had a new two-story home built. She lived there until her death in 1939. The house was saved from demolition by neglect by committed Columbus preservationists. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1992.

Ma Rainey rests in Porterdale Cemetery, which was once known as the Colored Cemetery. It was put on the NRHP in 1980.

Opened in 1924, the Liberty Theatre was a segregated theatre that hosted Ma Rainey and other Black artists. Rainey eventually purchased the theater. It was put on the NRHP in 1984.

Zion Episcopal Church, Georgia

Talbotton, Talbot County

Built in 1848 and consecrated in 1853, the Zion Episcopal Church in Talbotton, Georgia was recently restored. This carpenter gothic style church served as a congregation for a planter class of families who had relocated from the coast.

Like many antebellum churches, the church was built with a slave gallery that still lines the upper perimeter of the church. The doors were locked, so I was unable to document the inside.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The backside of the church as viewed from the road
Marker for Elizabeth Margaret White, 1813-1850

Reid’s Chapel Baptist Church and Cemetery, Georgia

Willard, Putnam County

I am unable to locate much information on the church. The cemetery is active with burials as recent as 2021. The names on most of the headstones were some version of Clements, Clemons, and Clemmons. Several of the headstones had impressions on the back of the headstones.

Dudley Cemetery, Georgia

Atlanta, Fulton County

Located in southwest Atlanta, there is quite a large cemetery lost into a hill of a neighborhood. It’s been identified as the Dudley Cemetery. Based on old obituaries, it seems to have a tie to the Philadelphia Baptist Church due the frequency of notices that indicated services at the church and burial at the cemetery.

From the base of cemetery, a dozen or so headstones can be seen. There are many depressions in the earth. I would guess over 100 burials are hidden in the hillside.

If you go, don’t trespass. It is privately owned land. I went with someone who knows one of the owners.

Piney Woods Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Georgia

Chattahoochee Hills, Fulton County

Founded in 1852, the Piney Woods Primitive Baptist Church is located in the crossroads town called Rico which now makes up the town Chattahoochee Hills. It has a mixture of box slab crypts, seashell covered graves, field stone markers, and traditional late 1800s headstones.

The church moved from the site by 1856, but the cemetery stayed active close to 1900. One side of the cemetery contains burials with no markers. It’s believed they are for men and women who were born into slavery of the founders of the church and the town of Rico.

The seashell covered graves were a Southern phenomenon. In the Christian tradition, they represent a person’s travels through life and the final passage involves crossing water into the promised land. An articles that provides further details can be read here.