Historic Markers Across Alabama

Mt. Nebo Death Masks

Marker ID:  
Location: on Mt. Nebo Rd 0.4 miles north of Belqueen Rd, Carlton, AL
County: Clarke
Coordinates: N 31° 20.797    W 087° 52.059
  31.34661666    -87.86765
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMV5XG


Mt. Nebo Death Masks

Side 1
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mt. Nebo Cemetery is home to the unique folk art of African American inventor and artist, Issac "Ike" Nettles, who used concrete to make images of living people's faces for their tombstones.

Born in 1885 near this location, Nettles was described by family as a "brilliant recluse" who studied at Tuskegee University. Though earning his living as a farmer, he received several patents on inventions he created, most notably a child's pedal car. He built other machines around his home in Nettles Quarters

Side 2
to aid in his farming endeavors. Three of the four death masks are Nettle's family members. The largest gravestone was his mother Selena (d. 1933), which he represented from the waist up and according to some, included her hair. The grave of Angel Ezella Nettles included her face and nickname "Sis Dollie." Another was his wife, Korean (d. 1933), and also featured the faces of his three daughters, Pauline, Marie and Clara. The last mask was Manul Burrell (d. 1946). The death mask gravestones have been recognized as unique and significant by folklorists in the state may be unique in the southeast.

Erected the Clarke County Historical Society.

End of Mt. Nebo Death Masks