Monday, December 9, 2013

Magnolia Cemetery

Magnolia Cemetery is Hollywood's better kept, smaller, oft-forgotten sibling. Make no mistake, Magnolia is not in great shape and needs restoration. Badly. But when the cemetery next door looks like this...

Hollywood Cemetery/Personal Collection
It's easy to overlook the restoration needs of it's next door neighbor.

Magnolia Cemetery by Jon Fuller from FindaGrave
However, I'm worried that Magnolia is reaching a crisis point. It's just a better groomed crisis point.

I took this picture of Baby Allen's headstone in April, 2009.

Personal Collection
Judy Brantley Wilson added this photo to Find A Grave in in March, 2013.

Photo By Judy Brantley Wilson. Find A Grave.
Damage from a storm? Vandalism? Age related deterioration? I'm not sure, but it's not a good sign. Even back in 2009 I knew that Magnolia was missing monuments. My great-great-grandmother Mary Camp Mooney is buried at Magnolia (her death certificate and obituary back this up). Her granddaughter (my grandmother) clearly remembers a monument. I can't find it, and I've searched several times. 

So, what do we know about Magnolia? Not much. I spent some time researching the cemetery, and I still don't have a lot of information.

This is what I know so far:

  • Find A Grave lists 1.374 internments.
  • It's also "owned" by Lincoln (just like Hollywood), who does keep the grass cut!
  • I believe the cemetery opened around 1921. I formed this opinion because that's earliest date I've found obituaries listing burials at Magnolia and the information on Find A Grave backs this up.
  • However, there are burials with an earlier date of death buried at Magnolia. In each case I found the deceased was a baby or child. I think the children were moved later and buried with their parents, perhaps when the parents could afford a large lot so the family could be together. 
  • Burials still occur at Magnolia.
That's all I've uncovered to date. 

Does anyone have any additional information about Magnolia Cemetery?

Here's the address and Lincoln's phone number, just in case anyone needs it.

1361 Hollywood Road
Atlanta, Georgia
Phone: 404-792-2220


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hollywood Cemetery Corporation Ad For Lots: October 15, 1903

Note: This is an incredibly interesting ad from 1903. I have a few ads from the Hollywood Cemetery Corporation from this time period advertising a scheme where they guarantee the lots will double in five years-but in exchange you promise to give them any amount OVER $50 you sell the lots for after five years. Am I a cynic, or does this sound super fishy to anyone else? 

Most interesting to those of us interested in restoring HC is the line "Our sextons look after and protect every lot in the cemetery, so it takes none of your time and you have no taxes or expenses to pay."

Hmm...sort of sounds like an early idea of perpetual care, doesn't it? It makes me REALLY want to see a HCC deed. What, exactly, was the language used?

It's also interesting to note that apparently 2,000 people were already buried at the cemetery. Find a Grave has 6,264 internments listed. That means a 1/3 were buried in the first 10 years! I find that interesting. Either HCC was padding numbers or there are more people buried (or more concerning, a massive amounts of grave lost) than we know of.


Atlanta Constitution, October 25, 1903

The Constitution, Atlanta GA: Sunday, October 25 1903

20% Per Annum Guaranteed For 5 Years

On money invested in Hollywood Cemetery lots. Just outside the incorporate limits of the City of Atlanta, on street car line. Lots contain 216 square feet of land sell for $25.00 each, payable $2.00 per month without interest till paid for. Hollywood is strictly a white cemetery; there are over 2,000 people buried there.

Could you do better than buy Atlanta property where you know it is obliged to increase in value? There can be no risk in buying, as you know anyone can pay $25.00 for a lot when they have a year to pay it without any interest. It does not matter where you live, this investment will be as profitable to you living in California as in Georgia.

Our sextons look after and protect every lot in the cemetery, so it takes none of your time and you have no taxes or expenses to pay.

In making this trade you have not only the deeds as security for the $50 for each of your lots, but you have this company, that is worth one hundred thousand dollars, as security that you will get the $50 for each lots at the expiration of five years, making 20 per cent per annum net gain on your investment.

Our titles to this property are perfect. The company is in strong hands. We refer to Bradstreet, Third National Bank and Dun & Co as to our standing.

This is a straight business proposition, and any information you may desire will be furnished free on application at this office or by mail, giving in detail the manner in which these lots are sold, and the reason why the company can afford to do this; also stating in full how the company makes a profit by this guarantee, thereby increasing the value of all lots purchased by other parties.

Remember our proposition is simply this: We will guarantee you $50 for each lot in give years, if you will guarantee to give us all over $50 they bring in five years. Hollywood Cemetery Corporation, 311 Empire Building, Atlanta, GA. Office phone 3297.

If you want a safe, sure, and profitable investment, here it is, with or without this guarantee- take your choice.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

1893 Article Regarding Buying Hollywood Cemetery Plots

I know there are earlier articles about the founding of Hollywood Cemetery, but this is currently the oldest article in my possession! And it's fantastic. We hear from one of the founders, get a description of the Hollywood Road corridor, get a sense of the importance street cars played in the creation and early years of the cemetery, and learn the initial terms to buy a lot. I'm inserting a scan of the original article, but I'm also adding a transcription for easier reading.

Atlanta Constitution April 2, 1893


Lots at Hollywood Are in Great Demand


Where Lots That Will Increase In Value Can Be Bought Cheap and on Easy Terms

        “Hollywood cemetery lots are going like hot cakes,” said Dr. W.A. Baker yesterday, as he puffed the aroma of a delicious Havana.

“Yes, sir,” continued he, “Hollywood will be the burial ground of Atlanta within five years. Many of the best people in the city have purchased lots and they say they are going to beautify them to the full e extent of artistic embellishment. You see my cemetery has the advantage in location. Everybody that sees the beautiful landscape is in love with it and the impression is universal that a more appropriate spot could not have been selected for a burial ground.

“The property would have made a lovely suburban residence site and is being rapidly sandwiched by beautiful homes. But I thought Atlanta needed another cemetery. The e expense of burying our dead is enormous. It was with a view of reducing such expenses that determined me to plat this property into a cemetery. In laying it off I made the lots large and threaded them with wide walks and drives so as to make them perfectly accessible, while at the same time giving enough room for trees, shrubbery and flowers. In this way a distinct individuality is given to each lot.

“And yet these lots are within the reach of any citizen of Atlanta. I sell them all the way from $12.50 to $25 and require only $1.50 in advance. The balance is payable in monthly installments of $1. A man never misses the outlay and before he knows it he has finished paying for his lot.

“My terms have induced many to buy additional lots as an investment. Of course this kind of real estate will increase in value just like building sites and those who have bought surplus lots will sell out later on at a big profit.

“ Burial lots in some of the cemeteries are now selling at from $200 to $500 each and they are things that people are obliged to have if they do come high. Of course lots at Hollywood will rate at the same price later on. So you see that is why they are an investment.

“Hollywood, you know, is one the Chattahoochee electric line, just four and three-quarter miles from Atlanta. This is as near in as the law will allow a cemetery to be located. So there will be no new cemeteries to rival mine because of closer proximity. Therefore as an investment lots at Hollywood are safe.”

“I have an arrangement with the Chattahoochee electric line and all connecting carlines to transport corpses and funeral parties at remarkably low rates. This, you see, cuts down one of the principal items of expense and thereby commends Hollywood as a desirable burial ground. But just tell the readers of the Constitution to call on my in room 13 of the old capital building and I will make everything plain to them.”


Hollywood Cemetery Timeline

This is a very rough timeline, but I thought it might be helpful to lay out as much of Hollywood Cemetery's history as I could easily determine.

And nothing with Hollywood Cemetery is ever easy! In many ways, making this timeline opened up as many lines of enquiry as it answered. However, that means I know have some very definate areas of research to look into. 

Hollywood Cemetery, Atlanta Timeline

1890-Plans for The Hollywood Cemetery announced.

April 2, 1893-Article appears in Atlanta Constitution describing the cemetery and the terms of sale (most lots under $25, $1.50 down, $1 a month). The office was in the old Capitol Building (also known as the Kimball House).

June 4, 1893-First obit I found referencing a burial at Hollywood for Lemon Schell, a Mason. While I'm not certain he's the very first person buried at Hollywood, I do believe he's amongst the first. 

January 4, 1894- Owners of cemetery petition Fulton County to make cemetery sexton a deputy because of problems with “negroes and whisky.” There was apparently a picnic ground popular with African-Americans next to Hollywood Cemetery (the whole area was something a weekend getaway!) and issues between the two groups popped up quickly.

July 15, 1897-Hollywood Cemetery Company is in bankruptcy and is auctioned off. A new corporation with a similar name is formed.

May 9, 1901-Hollywood Cemetery Company sued over denying burial to Ludie Carlton. The newspaper articles I read said this was because the sexton believed her to be black, but when I read the court documents it seemed it was more of an inheritance issue. Her grandmother,  Jane Wright, sued and was later buried at Hollywood.

May 21, 1901- Hollywood's sexton, W.A. Peters, gets into legal trouble involving using land that didn't belong to the company as burial land for African-Americans (Hollywood was a whites only cemetery). 

August 24, 1901- Streetcars made Hollywood Cemetery possible back in 1890 and the line would add special cars to transport funeral parties. After the funeral of a child a streetcar accident with funeral goers caused the death of one of the attendees and injured many others.

August 2, 1903-A HUGE Ad in Constitution advertising lots. The company is now based out of  311 Empire Building, which these days is part of the GSU campus.

October 25, 1903-More ads! This one claims that the company guarantees that in five years each lot will be worth $50; in return for the guarentee the buyers will give the company any money made on the lots OVER $50. Ad hints at perpetual care (no need to worry about upkeep!).

December 3, 1907- T.J. Eady seems to be in control of HCC, tries to sell the cemetery to Atlanta.

1913-Owners still trying to sell the cemetery to the city of Atlanta.

1919-Hollywood Cemetery listed in the Georgia Secretary of State records as being incorporated in 1897 (the year of the bankruptcy reorganization). Its worth was listed at $100,000.

1954-The Hollywood Road area becomes part of the City of Atlanta.

Late 50s-60s-White flight commences. The biggest impact on Hollywood is that the families of those buried there scatter and lose their ties to the community, and any semblance of upkeep on the cemetery starts winding down.

1964-Monte Vista (the better kept cemetery on the right!) is incorporated. I'm completely unclear if this was the point where the two get mixed up, if Monte Vista has its basis in the sexton's illegal cemetery, or what happened to the Hollywood Cemetery Company.

1972ish- Report of gangs roaming Hollywood Cemetery. Whether or not this is true, I can tell you that my family certainly believed it. Now fear was added to distance to keep the original families away.

mid-1980s-As a child I was driven down Hollywood Road regularly, but thought only one side of the street was a cemetery. Until I read the Jewish Times story, I thought the other side of the road was forest!

2002- Jewish Times Story. A turning point, I think. Gives more information about Lincoln Cemetery Company which both claims and denies ownership of Hollywood.

2010-Atlanta Report. This is a report by the city of Atlanta on revitalizing the west side, and the include Hollywood Cemetery (along with Monte Vista and Magnolia) in the revitalization plan, calling them potential draws to the area, confirm the idea that the city or county could take the cemetery over, and reaffirm the need for a Friends of organization.

2010-Last obit I could find referencing burial at Hollywood. I can't even imagine how, or where, burial at Hollywood is possible! Maybe the smaller tiered section across the street?

2011-This blog post states all the bronze markers have been stolen off of the crypts.

I'll start adding the scans and transcriptions of the primary documents I've collected about Hollywood as soon as possible. 


Friday, May 29, 2009

Clean Up Day Saturday December 6, 2009

The Lincoln Cemetery office, which is located 2275 Simpson Rd NW Atlanta, GA 30314, phone number (404) 792-2220, says that Hollywood Road Cemetery is most transversable from Thanksgiving to Easter. Only in that time frame will they guide people to their family's plot.

I think that's a good rule for us to follow. So our first Hollywood Road Cemetery Clean Up Day is scheduled for Saturday, December 6th, 2009. It's early enough in the Christmas season that everyone shouldn't be crazy busy, but still warm enough so that we don't freeze!

Wear old clothes and gloves. I also like to wear rubber fishing or rainboots while I'm in Hollywood...just in case. For those of you who have been nervous about going there alone, this will be a great chance to go when lots of people will be about. 

If you are planning to make this your first trip to Hollywood Cemetery, please call the office to get your family's plot information. I'll bring copies of maps.

If you don't have family at Hollywood but would like to come anyway, please do! We need people to help clear the paths.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Helpful Links

Around the web many people have started gathering information and documenting Hollywood Cemetery.

Credit must go to Judy K. Brantley/Wilson, who has done a yeoman's job posting Hollywood burials at 3,498 names have been posted so far.  Without Judy, I doubt I would have figured out I had family buried there as quickly as I did. She's performed an amazing service, and is leaving a record future genealogists and historians will be very grateful for.

Larry Felton Johnson photographed parts of Hollywood Cemetery in 2007 and his blog posting has served as a meeting ground for several of us.

This article from 2002 in the Atlanta Jewish Times does a fantastic job explaining how Hollywood Cemetery devolved into its current state, the ineptitude of the current owners, and why the state of Georgia can't do anything about it. The article discusses how parts of the land have been sold off over the years (for taxes) and one parcel sold contained graves. Lovely.

The Secretary of State's office will probably do very little to help us, since Hollywood is a non-perpetual care cemetery (see ex-SOS Cathy Cox's statement in the above article), so I think the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division might be our best hope for help.

Do you know of any other helpful links? Please post them in comments and I will add them.


Hello. Like many other Atlanta born and breds I have family buried at Hollywood Cemetery (as well as Magnolia). However, that knowledge had fallen from family lore with the passage of years and I only recently discovered that one set of great-great-grandparents, two sets of great-great-great-grandparents, and various aunts and uncles are buried at Hollywood Cemetery.

Many of us are floating around the edges of genealogy and graving websites, attempting to figure out just what to do next. It is a daunting prospect. I used to teach in the area, and knew that Hollywood Cemetery was bad, but had no idea just how bad it was until I visited recently (and ran into a couple trying to locate their family's graves). Bad doesn't begin to describe it. Horrific is a much more appropriate adjective. Trash, reforestation, abandoned road ways, fallen monuments abound. Vegetation has grown so think that stairs and walls are completely covered. And sadly, you can make out that the landscaper was probably genius, because you can still make it out how he terraced a very large hill into workable plots and roads. Someone spent a lot of time and money designing Hollywood Cemetery originally, and there are some beautiful examples of headstones to be found still. Actually, I have a feeling that the forestation might have saved the headstones from vandalism, just because it is so difficult to access much of the cemetery.

There are three cemeteries on Hollywood Road that are connected. If you drive down Hollywood from Hollowell (which used to be known as Bankhead Highway) you will first see a well maintained cemetery on a hill on your right. That is Monte Vista. On your left is a terraced cemetery with the first few rows in acceptable condition and the back rows reverting to forest. That is part of Hollywood Cemetery. On your right is a forest with a set of stairs. Look closely. There is a sign that says "Non-Perpetual Care". Yeah, no joke! Next you will see a road on your right, turn there to enter Hollywood Cemetery. If you stay straight on Hollywood Road you will next see a flat cemetery, level with the road, where the grass is at least cut. That is Magnolia. Magnolia has suffered from vandalism and neglect over the years (I can't find my great-grandmother Mary Camp Mooney's headstone, although my grandmother clearly remembers her having one), but is in better condition.

All three of these cemeteries are "operated" by Lincoln Cemetery. Monte Vista is a perpetual care cemetery where they still sell plots and hold burials.

Please spread the word, and let's get something organized.