Historic Markers Across Georgia

Oak Ridge Cemetery 1866 To Present

Marker ID:  
Location: 1071 Riverside Drive, Macon, GA
County: Bibb
Coordinates: N 32° 50.978    W 083° 38.141
  32.84963333    -83.63568333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Oak Ridge Cemetery
1866 To Present

After the Civil War, the three distinct sections present in Oak Ridge today began to form. In addition to the antebellum and Civil War burials of enslaved people, a portion of Oak Ridge was sold to William Wolff in 1879 as a burial ground for Temple Beth Israel Synagogue. Oak Ridge was also used as a paupers' cemetery in the postbellum period. This section, traditionally known as Strangers' Row, was set aside for the indigent and friendless who passed away in Macon. Strangers' Row also includes some unmarked graves, though cemetery records are much more likely to contain the names of these individuals. For instance, in February 1896, Jerri Bell, a stillborn twin, was buried and John Henry was buried in November of the same year. Annie Bell was buried on December 16, 1897. All three were African American interred in Strangers' Row.

Despite Oak Ridge Cemetery's association with enslaved and pauper burials, the growing post-Civil War African American population in Macon did not shun this cemetery. Instead, they embraced this place as a site for remembrance of lives lost during slavery and identified with this history as their heritage. From the late nineteenth century through today, many of Macon's leading African American families have chosen to be buried in Oak Ridge. This section does not have any available family lots, but burials within existing family lots continue. Some notable families buried here include: the Savage and Hutchings families who still own and operate Hutchings Funeral Home, the family of Professor H. J. T Hudson, founder of Hudson High School for whom the first public high school for African Americans in Macon was named, the entrepreneurial Braswell/Sheftall and Maund families, and Reverend Henry Williams who once pastored the First Baptist Church on New Street in Macon.

Many African American fraternal organizations also purchased lots in Oak Ridge. For a small recurring fee, members of these organizations, including the Order of the Good Samaritans, the Independent Society, and the Daughters of the Good Samaritan, could be buried within their organizations' lot in Oak Ridge. These leaders, their families, and groups chose Oak Ridge as their burial place while the burial of paupers continued in this section until the 1970s.

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