Mt. Sumach Baptist Church is located in the hills of the Georgia Mountains near the Tennessee State line. The church’s graveyard is typical of many rural church cemeteries. There are a mixture of modest headstones. Additionally, there are a handful of vernacular markers. Two of these markers are the “head and shoulder” markers, which I usually see made out of wood. The pink marble marker is likely made from Tate, Georgia pink marble.
Mount Gilead Cemetery outside of Sparta, Tennessee, is one of several cemeteries found in mostly Southern states and the Appalachian Mountains containing tent graves. This cemetery has some of the oldest graves featuring this style.
Also known as comb graves, it was initially assumed that they were built to protect graves, but it is now believed that these were likely aesthetic choices. I support this idea. Vernacular headstones often appear in clusters in several cemeteries. For instance, there are a series of cemeteries along the coast that feature what I’ve called “Black Madonnas” since they are only in Black cemeteries. Additionally, many cemeteries along the coast feature a single-star motif on headstones. An example can be seen on the Mary Lemon grave at Behavior Cemetery.
San Sebastian and Pinehurst Cemeteries are located in West St. Augustine on Pearl Street. The two cemeteries are next to each other and are stated to be among the oldest Black cemeteries in the state of Florida. There is conflicting information on whether the cemeteries began before or after the Civil War.
The cemeteries contain a mixture of commercial and vernacular headstones, along with military ones. Additionally, there are mementos left on many graves. Everything from conch shells to dolls is scattered throughout.
There is no truth that carved chains on a headstone mean someone is born into slavery. Most chains represent the fraternal organization Fraternal Order of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. They are frequently joined with the letters “ F L T,” which stands for “Friendship, Love, Truth.”
I read several journal articles about the documentation of slave and Black cemeteries, and there was no mention that markers with chains meant someone was born into slavery. What is consistently mentioned are broken dish ware, clocks, shells, and different plants.
A circle of chains, broken or unbroken, can represent death or hope respectively.
This cemetery shared two borders with the all-white cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery.
Established by a Leo Benedict, a local businessman, in 1909, Memorial Cemetery is one of several Black cemeteries on Moncrief Road in Jacksonville, Florida. By 1911, the cemetery was run by the Memorial Cemetery Association.
The association utilized the Afro-American Life Insurance Company to manage the day to day operations of the cemetery. Abraham Lincoln Lewis served as the president of the company. When it disbanded, the Lewis family continued to manage the cemetery. They managed it until the 1980s when the family turned to a non-profit to run the cemetery. It disbanded and now the city of Jacksonville runs it.
The congregation was founded in 1868 by freedmen and women of Troup County, Georgia. Initially, they met under a bush arbor. The church was built in 1906. An active church, baptisms were held in the nearby creek until recently, according to this article in the LaGrange Daily News.
I believe the wooden structure is a school since the history of the church states their first church building was built at the turn of the century. It also resembles the many one room schoolhouses that dot Georgia’s landscape.
The cemetery contains a mixture of prefabricated and handmade markers. It also includes at least two Eldren Bailey markers.
I believe this marker was made in the likeness of the church.
There were several markers in the cemetery that a similar angel and crown motif.
This marker contains the addition of P, 8, and S to the crown and wings. I am uncertain what means.
This marker did not have a name, but I was intrigued that the star was on the front and back side of the marker.
This is one of the Eldren Bailey markers in the cemetery.
I am unable to locate any information beyond what is shared on Findagrave. This cemetery once served the Shiloh AME Church in Macon County.
I love this vernacular marker. The use of concrete and stones with the hand stamping of the angel and the star. This is the marker for George Baker who passed in 1935.
This is the marker for Julia Woodall, 1858-1933. The handwriting and the star are very similar to George Baker’s, so my assumption is that this was done by the same person.
The name had fallen off the silver nameplate that you can see at the top of the photo. I am assuming this was a flower pot used to mark a grave.
There was no visible name, but the length of the spot made me think it might be the grave of a child.
This is an Eldren Bailey marker for Clemmie Felton. The family used the services of Haugabrooks Funeral Home, which was based in Atlanta.
I am only sharing this because when I drove up the dirt road to this cemetery, I thought it was a person leaning against a tree, which scared me.