Cemeteries and lot lines

Submitted by Stephen A. Hammack (stephen.hammack.ctr@robins.af.mil)

SH lot line fig cropped

A little known fact about historic cemeteries is that they were often purposefully placed on land lot lines.

This was a fairly common 19th-century practice back in the day when individuals owned entire land lots (202.5 acres in some parts of Georgia). It appears that this type of land usage was essentially based on common sense, as land owners established family cemeteries on the edges of their property in places that were least likely to hinder agricultural activities. Several examples from Middle Georgia come to mind, although placing cemeteries on the furthest edges of property lines was common across the Southeast, and quite possibly across the nation, too.

The location of the Parker Cemetery, which was removed from Robins AFB in 1952 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was carefully documented as being in the northeastern corner of Land Lot 224, where it shared a common border with Land Lots 225, 239, and 240 in Houston County’s 5th Land District.

The Minshew-Thomas-Sullivan Cemetery (in use from 1846-1979), located just a few miles away in the same land district, was situated in the southeastern corner of Land Lot 230 on the common border with Land Lots 229, 234, and 235.

Colleagues have also reported similar findings of cemeteries being placed on property lines in neighboring Bibb County at the Avondale Burial Place and in northern Alabama within Bankhead National Forest.

Of course, not all cemeteries conform to this pattern, as shown by the fact that the Feagin and King cemeteries at Robins AFB were not placed on land lot lines. But a great deal of research still remains to be done on this interesting phenomenon!

Stephen is a past Board Member of the SGA, and active in the Ocmulgee Archaeological Society, a Chapter of the SGA. On this website, you can also read Stephen’s story about the 4th annual Seven Islands Artifact Day and the restoration of the Fish Vault in Memory Hill Cemetery.