This section will give the basic information on the history surrounding the Gilbert Cemetery which is a Georgia Historic Site located on State of Georgia property---Georgia Department of Transportation. Sections were created that should help you to understand the significance of the Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery and recognition of the site as the final resting place for African Americans before the beginning of the Civil War.
There are a total of 54 names of persons listed on the white obelisk memorial at the cemetery. The total number of churches listed is 6 on the historic markers. There are 12 Pastor/Reverend names listed on both the historic markers. There were some instances of a couple of names being listed twice on the historic marker.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Judge Marvin Shoob, Mr. John Birdine along with Mrs. Roselle Fann, from the community, who conducted the research on the cemetery when the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) came across the cemetery sometime around 1983. Let us not forget the ancestors and pastors and community members who were willing to share information for the Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery site to be developed.
---Website Links to Pictures of Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery
---Jeremiah S. Gilbert Cemetery Location
---How the Cemetery Acquired Name
---Interstate Highway System Expansion: Cleveland Avenue Interchange
---Names of Persons Laid to Rest: Listed on the White Marble Obelisk
(Side Facing Straight onto Cleveland Avenue)
---Names of Persons Laid to Rest: Listed on the White Marble Obelisk
(Side Facing Diagnonal Towards Krystal's on Cleveland Avenue)
---Text of Georgia Historical Marker (Large Marker)
---Text of Georgia Historical Marker (Small Marker)
---List of Churches Associated With the Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery
(at I-75 South)
---List of Pastors Associated With the Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery
(at I-75 South)
---References & Sources
---Citations: Newspaper Articles
Thank you to a lot of our photographers who took the time to upload pictures onto the websites such as Flickr (photo sharing website) for the public to actually have a chance to see how the cemetery looks from I-75 South at Cleveland Avenue Interchange.
The Historic Jeremiah Silas Gilbert Cemetery is a pre-civil war cemetery located next to I-75 South at the Cleveland Avenue Interchange Exit across from the Krystal's Restaurant. The cemetery can only be accessed from the entrance ramp onto I-75. The following is a snopsis of events that caused the cemetery to be located at this site based upon newspaper accounts from 1983.
The Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery was so named because the land for the cemetery was given by Jeremiah S. Gilbert for whom the Historic Jeremiah S. Gilbert House was honored. Mr. Gilbert gave the land for burial of local African Americans from the surrounding communities including East Point, Georgia. The cemetery is believed to have consisted of approximately 1,700 graves.
The Jeremiah S. Gilbert Memorial Cemetery was originally a one-acre plot set aside by Jeremiah S. Gilbert for burials. He acquired the land in 1861 from his father who was the first doctor in Fulton County (his uncle was the first doctor in the City of Atlanta) and one of the county's early settlers. Mr. Gilbert's wife was Matilda Perkerson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Perkerson (another Fulton County settler who was the first Sheriff of Fulton County and whose estate became Sylvan Hills, Perkerson Park, etc.). Mr. Gilbert's maternal grandfather was Charner Humphries (another Fulton County settler) who was the owner of the famous Whitehall Tavern (where the first elections were held for a place called Atlanta and what became known as the parade grounds for Fort McPherson now closed as of September 2011).
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was building the Cleveland Avenue Interchange around 1983. Construction work had already started. As part of the expansion, land and buildings had been acquired. There was an old package/liquor store.
When GDOT staff started going through the back side of the liquor store, they discovered a lot of old headstones. The GDOT agency called a work stoppage to investigate the possibility of more graves. After discovering the additional head stones, GDOT staff decided that some type of marker needed to be done to recognize the fact that a cemetery was found at this site and accidentally destroyed. So, they decided that a 7-foot statue of Jesus Christ depicted as a white male would be erected over the interchange. The objective was to memorialize the people buried in the cemetery being leveled by the building of the highway interchange. However good their intentions, it led to a lawsuit in federal court for violation of separation of church and state because a state agency wanted to endorse a particular religion as well as it being insensitive to erect a "white Jesus" symbol over an African American Cemetery.
Now, it is no longer legally allowed to tear apart cemeteries as they are recognized as part of our laws that require environmental impact studies of which cultural studies of areas are considered before any planning can be done. All of this was also incorporated as part of the environmental justice movement that was signed as Executive Order 12898 signed into law by President Bill Clinton on February 11, 1994.
*** There are 20 names listed on the obelisk memorial on this side of the street ***
*** There are 34 names listed on the obelisk memorial on this side of the street ***
This monument marks the site of the Gilbert Cemetery originally a one-acre plot set aside by Jeremiah S. Gilbert for burials. He acquired the land in 1861 from his father. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries use of these grounds expanded to provide burial for members of various churches and fraternal lodges of the neighboring black community. These included the Sterling Chapel (founded in 1885) and later merged with Dodd United Methodist Church in 1973 to form the Dodd-Sterling United Methodist Church, Traveler's Rest Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, and the Queen of the South Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons.
This memorial is dedicated to the Memory of those individuals, known and unknown here interred. Among those buried here, identified by family, friends, and private records are those whose names are listed on the Central Monument. Pastors who are known to have partcipated in services at Gilbert Cemetery include: A.M. Bridges; J.B. Greer; C.J. Johnson, D.D.; J.F. Shumake; B.B. Carter; T.W. Hobbs; E.D. Lumpkin; C.S. Stinson; R.Wilborn.
Gilbert Cemetery was destroyed by unknown persons in the late 1950's. The Memorial Cemetery has been made possible through efforts of concerned local residents, local clergy, the Fulton County Superior Court, the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and others, so that those laid to rest here would not be forgotten.
060-199 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1983
In addition to those churches and pastors mentioned in the nearby historic marker text, the following churches and pastors are also among those who were involved with the original Gilbert Cemetery.
Shady Grove Baptist Church, Morning Star Baptist Church and Center Hill Baptist Church, Rev. J.M. Gates, Rev. D.D. Green, and Rev. IV. Smith.
1.) Center Hill Baptist Church
2.) Dodd-Sterling United Methodist Church
Sterling Chapel (founded in 1885) and later
merged with Dodd United Methodist Church
in 1973 to form the Dodd-Sterling United Methodist Church
3.) Morning Star Baptist Church
4.) Shady Grove Baptist Church
5.) Traveler's Rest Baptist Church
6.) Union Baptist Church
1.) Pastor A.M. Bridges
2.) Pastor B..B. Carter
3.) Reverend J.M. Gates
4.) Reverend D.D. Green
5.) Pastor J.B. Greer
6.) Pastor T.W. Hobbs
7.) Pastor C.J. Johnson, D.D.
8.) Pastor E.D. Lumpkin
9.) Pastor J.F. Shumake
10.) Reverend IV. Smith
11.) Pastor C.S. Stinson
12.) Pastor R. Wilborn
An obelisk (from Greek - obeliskos, diminutive of obelos, "spit, nail, pointed pillar") is a tall, narrow, four-sided, tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top. Ancient obelisks were often monolithic whereas most modern obelisks are made of several stones and can have interior spaces.
Because of the Enlightenment-era association of Egypt with mortuary arts, obelisks became associated with timelessness and memorialization.
There are smaller obelisks or similar forms to be found in European, Asian, and American cemeteries or as World War I memorials in rural Australian towns.
1.) Atlanta residents protest Ga Dept of Transportation plan to place statue of white Christ figure in cemetery of black, pre-Civil War slaves (M) Mr 3, ACJ, D, 11:1
2.) Tom Teepen reviews complaints to Georgia Transportation Dept against decision to erect statue to memorialize people buried in cemetery being leveled for highway interchange in Atlanta (M) Mr 19, ACJ, B, 2:3
3.) US District Judge Marvin Shoob considers banning Georgia Transportation Dept's plan to set statue of Jesus and cross-shaped markers in a renovated cemetery; photo (M) Ag 6, ACJ, B, 1:1
4.) Descendants of those buried in Atlanta's Gilbert Cemetery express feelings about Georgia Transportation Dept's treatment of cemetery site near I-75 expansion;
photos (M) Ag 12, AC, B, 3:1
5.) US district judge rules Georgia Transportation Dept plans for a statue of Jesus at roadside cemetery is unlawful;
photo (M) S 14, AC, A 8:1
6.) Georgia Transportation Dept seeks way to mark an I-75 cemetery after court ruling halted a plan to install a statue of Jesus
(M) S 22, ACJ, E, 1:1
7.) Editorial praises Judge Marvin Shoot's (Note: Should be Shoob) decision to let descendants of those buried at old cemetery at the I-75 intersection south of Atlanta choose a memorial marker
(S) S 26, AJ, A, 14:1