Historic Markers Across Alabama

Lincoln Cemetery / Rufus Payne, 1884-1939

Marker ID: AHA 
Location: Harrison Rd. at Lincoln Rd., Montgomery, AL
County: Montgomery
Coordinates: N 32° 22.061    W 086° 15.930
  32.36768333    -86.2655
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMDCQV


Lincoln Cemetery

In 1907 the American Securities Company opened Lincoln Cemetery for African Americans and Greenwood Cemetery for whites, the first commercial cemeteries in the city. Landscape design indicates Olmstead influences with curving drives and two circular sections. Space allotted for 700 graves with first interment in 1908. Most graves are simple concrete slabs with evidences of African-American funerary art and late-Victorian motifs. Marble markers denote members of Mosaic Templars of America, black benevolent society, or graves of veterans. American Securities owned site until tax-exemption ended in 1957. Vandalism and neglect have seriously damaged graves and landscape.

Rufus Payne, 1884-1939
"Tee-Tot," Mentor of Hank Williams

Born in Lowndes County, Alabama, Rufus Payne grew up in New Orleans in midst of jazz musicians. Young Payne learned every instrument possible. At death of his parents, he came back to Greenville where he soon had a following of both races, playing jazz and blues for all segments of society. In nearby Georgiana, he met young Hank Williams, an eager student of the rhythm and beat of Tee-Tot's music. In 1937, Williams moved to Montgomery and soon thereafter Tee-Tot came to the city where he lived until his death in 1939, a friend of Williams' family and mentor to the singer-composer. Hank Williams stated that Payne was his only teacher. Tee-Tot died a pauper and lies here in an unmarked grave.

End of Lincoln Cemetery / Rufus Payne, 1884-1939