When Price died in 1917, this portion of the cemetery was segregated by race. Price had been born a slave 66 years earlier, but after Emancipation, she became one of the first women – and first persons of color – to open a business in Carrollton. Her diner on what was then Depot (now Bradley) Street was one of the most popular eating places in town, and when she died, her customers pooled their cash together to buy her this monument and this plot, in what was meant to be a sign of honor and respect in an age of bigotry.
Today, many motorists pass by the gravesite on Alabama Street without much thought. A cemetery is not the usual sort of place that attracts many visitors, but there are some in Carrollton who would like to change that. To them, the cemetery is a jewel among the city’s attractions, as rich in history as it is in art, with monuments that range from the ornate to the simple.
Jonathan Dorsey, executive director for the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, often conducts tours of the cemetery.
He helped prepare an interpretive brochure that tells the story behind the people who rest here, which is available at various places across town.
“All sorts of people come to cemeteries,” he says. “Not only historians, but genealogists who are doing family histories; photographers that are interested in the various statuary and that sort of thing. And joggers, people who want a peaceful place (to run).”
When the oldest part of the cemetery was built in the 1830s, there was a trend in America to replace the cramped spaces of church yards with gravesites in park-like settings, so that the living families of the deceased could visit, even hold picnics, among the tombstones. Modern-day visitors can “meet” some of the town’s pioneers, whose names remain on buildings and streets; in a place Dorsey calls “a 3-D history book.”
In the Park Street Cemetery, the oldest of the City Cemetery’s three sections, a visitor can encounter the many complexities of history which shaped the town. Price, for example, lies near the family who enslaved her, yet who helped honor her after freedom. Not far away, Col. William E. Curtis, 41st Georgia Infantry, lies so that he is perpetually facing north, opposing the enemy that killed him, in an ostentatious display of keeping the Civil War alive.
This part of the cemetery, located beside Moore’s Chapel United Methodist Church, contains the oldest graves, many of which are unmarked. One stone that has not yet weathered away has the earliest date in the cemetery.
John Long, according to the slab that marks his spot, was born in 1797 in Tennessee. He moved his family in 1826 to what was then the wilderness of Carroll County, and it was here, according to Dorsey, that Long’s son, Benjamin, became the first person of European descent to be born here.
Then there is Sanford Kingsberry (1805-1869) who left Vermont to settle in Carrollton, where he ran a general store and bought a huge tract of land north of the city, a farm now known as Oak Lawn. There he raised prized horses that he raced along the straight lane that is now known as Longview Street. Kingsbridge Road is named after the bridge he built over the Little Tallapoosa, and King Street – now named for Martin Luther King Jr. – was originally named after him.
Across Alabama Street, in the Magnolia Cemetery section, is the large family plot of the Mandevilles. The patriarch, Appleton Mandeville, moved to Carroll from New York state in 1833. He and his wife, Mary Ann, built their home on Maple Street, named after the maple trees she planted to remind her of her home in Vermont. Their son, Leroy C. Mandeville – founder of Mandeville Mills – built his mansion next door.
One of the more prominent graves in this section is that of William C. Adamson, judge and U.S. congressman, for whom Adamson Square is named. His elaborate crypt sits beside the even more elaborate obelisk that stands over the grave of his wife, Minna, who preceded him in death by 17 years. Also in this section are the graves of Edwin Sharpe – crusading editor of the Carroll County Times newspaper – along with many other people, storekeepers, lawyers, noteworthy and not-so-worthy, who built the foundations of the town in which we live.
These two oldest sections of the cemetery, along with the larger Pearl Street Cemetery down Alabama Street, are today controlled by the Carrollton Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department. Randy Harris, in charge of maintaining the cemetery, said that while few new graves are ever opened in the oldest section, there are plenty of lots in the newer.
Dorsey hopes that his work will help attract more visitors to the cemetery, like those who visit Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, and Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome. That’s the basis of his tours, and the interpretative brochure.
“By building onto (these), hopefully we’ll continue to make this not just a cemetery but also a heritage attraction, something for people to come and see what’s unique and what’s special about our cemetery.”