Presented by Bettye Lessley:
The Marble City Cemetery officially opened in 1898 when the City of Sylacauga bought one acre of a wheat field from James T. Persons and wife, Catherine Permelia. D. A. Parker chose the site, and James A. Knight contacted the owner of the land and arranged for the purchase in April of that year. At this time Mr. Knight selected his family plot, but before the deed could be made, he died and was buried on this lot.
Although there are earlier marked graves in the cemetery, it was a private burial ground of the Pearson family. George W. Pearson was buried there in 1876, Mary E. Wilkes in 1891, Ellena Murphy in 1892 and Rebecca Caudle in March of 1898. Other early burials include John E. Kaupp and William P. Oden in 1898, Lucinda F. Crowe and J. J. Coker in 1899 and William Lane in 1900.
The original deed to the cemetery was dated August 27, 1898, and was notarized by J. W. Langley. The land was then divided into lots and numbered, and the people of Sylacauga began to buy their space for a final resting place. It contains some 2,520 graves dating from 1876 to the present.
Many times during this period the Mayor and City Council and various groups and organizations cleaned the cemetery and made improvements. In the summer of 1924, the Baraca Sunday School Class from First Baptist Church collected money from local businessmen and paid a janitor $45.00 a month to work in the cemetery.
Citizens from all walks of life are interred in the Marble City Cemetery. There are doctors, judges, ministers, lawyers, county and city officials, veterans of wars, Broadway Avenue businessmen and many children. Buried here also are Sylacauga’s first plumber, Marvin Byron George, a Union Soldier named John Sayward Roberts, and eight Sylacauga mayors: James L. Wilkes, Thomas Pinckny Johnston, Sterling P. McDonald, Walter L. Howard, J. A. Shinn, H. H. Howard, Fred Prather and John Ed Jordan and Sylacauga’s beloved United States Congressman, William F. Nichols.
Many local stonemasons worked long and tedious hours on the beautiful monuments made from Sylacauga’s creamy white marble. The angel over the grave of Edward J. and Lamitis Smith, which was done by C. P. Falconi, and “Little Samuel,” the statue of a little boy kneeling, which was created many years ago by David Herd, are but two examples of the work of Sylacauga’s master craftsmen. Marble City Cemetery is truly a garden of marble of which Sylacauga can be justly proud.
In 1995, the cemetery was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. This organization recognizes prestigious statewide listings of buildings, structures and objects that possess architectural and historical significance.
Donations can be made to the:
Marble City Perpetual Care Fund
P. O. Box 2362
Sylacauga, AL 35150
for the care and upkeep of the cemetery.
Family History Project
Marble City Cemetery – 1989
Compiled by Bettye Lessley
The Local Issue Newpaper 12/19/95