Historic Markers Across Georgia

Oak Ridge Cemetery 1840 to 1865

Marker ID:  
Location: 1071 Riverside Drive, Macon, GA
County: Bibb
Coordinates: N 32° 50.917    W 083° 38.196
  32.84861666    -83.6366
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Oak Ridge Cemetery
1840 to 1865

Macon native Simri Rose, for whom Rose Hill Cemetery is named, established these grounds in 1840. Rose set aside ten acres of the property for slave owners to purchase and bury enslaved people and to bury city-owned enslaved people. On September 12, 1851, the city officially established this land as Oak Ridge Cemetery almost ten years before the beginning of the Civil War.

Because this cemetery was city-owned, the sexton was required to make reports to the governing body. Early on, the clerk recording these reports designated the race of those buried at Rose Hill by a "W" for white and "colored" for African Americans.

Later, the clerk might not have always designated race, but he did list the location of the burial. Those buried in Oak Ridge were typically African American.

These municipal records set Oak Ridge apart from contemporary slave burial grounds in other parts of Georgia. While those cemeteries have burial records of enslaved people, that documentation is not part of the official government archives The City Council records show the number of monthly burials in Oak Ridge during most of the antebellum and Civil War years, but most of the names of these individuals were not recorded.

Of the 961 known burials in Oak Ridge from 1840 to 1865, only two names were recorded. "A free man of color Hannibal Roe" was buried in 1846 and "Essex," who was mentioned because his body was allegedly disinterred by local medical students in 1858. Although Hannibal Roe's burial in Oak Ridge makes it clear that not all those buried here were enslaved people, we know from population statistics for Macon that most African Amerians during that period were enslaved.

It is believed there are at least 1,000 formerly enslaved people buried in unmarked graves at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Macon City Council Minutes captions
Bottom left: Detail of page from the Macon City Council minutes, September 12, 1851, showing the appropriation of land for Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Courtesy Macon-Bibb County Archives.

Bottom right: Detail of page from the Macon City Council minutes, January 1860, showing the Sexton's report of burials in Rose Hill and Oak Ridge Cemeteries.
Courtesy Macon-Bibb County Archives.

For photos, see HMDB.org)
For photos, see HMDB.org)

2016 by Historic Macon Foundation.


More Information:
Wikipedia - Slavery
Allince87 - Modern Slavery
Wikipedia - Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
Wikipedia - Emancipation Proclamation
Wikipedia - Thirteenth Amendment