My Georgia History

Augusta Cemeteries

Thomas Cumming gave the land for the Summerville Cemetery in 1824.  Cumming donated approximately 1 and a half acres.  Today the Cemetery is approximately five acres,  surrounded by a 5 ft. high, ivy covered, brick wall.  It has heavy wrought iron gates.  Summerville Cemetery is at John’s Road and Cumming Road.  The graves of three former Governors of Georgia are there, George W. Crawford,  Charles J. Jenkins, and John Milledge.  You’ll also find the graves of Joseph R. Lamar and Artemis Gould.

The Walker Family Cemetery on the campus of Augusta State University, is a family cemetery.  When Freemen Walker sold 70 acres to the government for the Arsenal, he kept one acre.  The Walker family is still burying people there today.  General W. H. T. Walker, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in1864, is there.  Octavia Walker Walton LeVert is buried there.  She was living in Mobile, Alabama, when her aunt became seriously ill.  Octavia came back to Augusta to be near her, but Octavia died before her aunt did.  Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Octavia” is about her.

Cedar Grove Cemetery  is one rich in black history.  In 1820 Augusta allocated 40 acres of land, where slaves could be buried. They were laid to rest in wooden boxes, or simply wrapped in cloth, but buried in unmarked shallow graves.  No index is available until after 1930. The oldest marked grave is that of Mary Jane Kent, dated 1835.  Some of the more notable people buried here, Mr. James Carter Sr. was Augusta’s first black dentist.  Dr. T. W. Josey has a high school named after him; he was a Physician, and Mrs. Amanda America Dickson Toomer was the richest black woman in the Southeast.

The old City Cemetery, Magnolia, is at the end of Walton Way. It was named for the many Magnolia trees that enhance the cemetery.  Land for the cemetery was given by Nicholas Delaigle.  DeLaigle owned a brick yard.  In fact, you can find some of the old bricks from his brickyard in the walkways at Magnolia.  He gave the land back in 1818.  Nicholas Delaigle is also buried there. There are five different Jewish sections. There is also a Confederate section where approximately 337 soldiers are buried. There are some Union soldiers too, they were prisoners of war, who died here. There are seven Confederate Generals buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

The oldest cemetery, in downtown Augusta, is at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church. The cemetery was used from 1750 until about 1820. The overwhelming majority of those buried here are merchants. But there are others, like Robert Forsyth, the first policeman killed in the line of duty. William Few, one of the two Georgia signers of the US Constitution.  Many folks with different religious backgrounds are here.  Several Presbyterians, including the first minister, Rev. Washington McKnight.

Many churches in the Augusta area have cemeteries. Including, Springfield Baptist Church, where six of their former pastors are buried in the front yard.

Well that’s just a few of the local cemeteries. But there’s a lot more, including North Augusta, and Beech Island, South Carolina.  There are cemeteries all around us.   Sometime go to a cemetery and look at the design on the headstones. Read them, you’ll find them to be interesting and informative. Just think there’s a story behind every gravestone.  A person lived their life, long or short. People knew them and loved them. The history of Augusta can be found in cemeteries.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research resources:

  • The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, S. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  • Augusta, A Pictorial History. Callahan, Helen. Richmond County Historical Society Publisher. (1980)
  • Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia. Jones, Charles C. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Publishers. (1890)
  • From City to Countryside. Haltermann, Bryan M. (1997)
  • Haunted Augusta And Local Legends. The Augusta Chronicle. (2002)

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