Days Gone By - stories from the past

Oldest cemetery in Madison County is disappearing in the woods and needs your help to preserve it

Madison County, Alabama is considered the birthplace of Alabama, established on December 13, 1808. One of the earliest known cemeteries is Cumberland Presbyterian Campground, Mount Paran Cemetery is in New Market, Alabama. It is located off Winchester Road.


Cemetery established in 1806

The cemetery was established as early as 1806 and is the final resting place for many of the county’s earliest pioneers, with the earliest surviving grave stone dated 1826. The historic old cemetery has more than 400 gravesites, including one of the largest intact “slave” cemeteries in Alabama.

Mount paran campground sign1 (www.huntsvilleal.gov)

Mount Paran campground & cemetery historic marker (www.huntsvilleal.gov)

With the decline of its use, and after a division within the Presbyterian Church and dissolution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in New Market around 1914, Mount Paran Cemetery became known as “Graveyard Hill.” Many old families of North Alabama are represented here, including as many as twenty Confederate soldiers. War of 1812 Veterans and other Revolutionary War Veterans are also in the cemetery.

Mount paran campground sign (www.huntsvilleal.gov)

Mount Paran campground & cemetery historic marker (www.huntsvilleal.gov)

Site bequeathed by Revolutionary War Soldier

The six acre site was bequeathed to Mount Paran Presbyterian Church of New Market in 1842 by Revolutionary War Soldier, Samuel Davis. He as well as several generations his family are buried at Mount Paran. Moses Poor, another Revolutionary War soldier is also buried there.

The campground was a favored campsite for early Cherokees of the area and used as a muster ground during the early Mississippi Territorial Days of Alabama. Captain John Williams was the muster Captain Andrew Jackson is said to have spent much time at the old campground during the early days of the Creek War. Isaac Cook, James Cook and Anna Cook buried at Mount Paran. Isaac Cook chartered the Masonic Lodge at New Market, Alabama in 1839.

Mount paran Campground and cemetery (savegraveyard facebook page)

Mount Paran Campground and cemetery (from savegraveyardhill facebook page)

Rev. William Crutcher of old New Market is also buried at Mount Paran Cemetery, his descendants married into the family of Charles Word. Other early settlers buried there include; Isaac Criner, descendants of Drake/Harris, Edwards family, and John Miller.

Due to the illegal destruction of the ancient old cedar trees by an illegal timberman in 1966, many of the old boxtombs and ancient old stones were destroyed. The division in the Cumberland Prebysterian Church in 1906 resulted in unclear ownership of the six acre site but in 1988 records were located.

Mary Miller deeded land in 1849 to serve both Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian congregations. The original building burned and the Methodists in 1882 sold their interest in a second building. This second church was destroyed by a tornado in 1884. The present building was erected in 1888. In 1906 the Cumberland Presbyterians left to form a new church, and the remaining members affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church.1

A facebook group (Save Graveyard Hill) has been formed to restore and preserve this cemetery.

SOURCE

  1. Huntsville.gov

Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Vol. I Revised with direct links to many sources and burial sites! This book includes the genealogy of and biography of William Barrett Travis of Alamo fame and Elisha Cottingham, the Alabama descendants from the Tapestry of Love, Historical Fiction Series by Donna R. Causey. 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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29 comments

  1. Deborah Moorefield

    This historic site is soon to be added to the National Register of Historic Places! The Church and Town site are on the opposite side of Mountain Fork Creek. They were both added to the National Register years ago!

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      Thank you for the update! We post these very historic site so they are not forgotten and thanks to your county leaders, this one is getting help.

    2. Elizabeth Brannon Nickelson

      Alabama Pioneers Save Graveyard Hill is the facebook page for the pictures.

  2. Janie Branch Tate

    Say Thank You to Your
    County Leaders.

  3. Tim Edger

    I noticed that some of the clean up started in May earlier this year. Does anyone know if the clean up was completed?

    1. Elizabeth Brannon Nickelson

      It started in October 2014 finished in May 2015

  4. Kerry Brandoff

    Is a list of burials there available???

  5. Linda Webb Cleveland

    so why isn’t anyone out cleaning it up?

  6. John Kvach

    Actually this is somewhat misleading. My history students at UAH and 80 students at Buckhorn HS have spent considerable time cleaning this up. Everyone is welcome to help preserve our past because we’re already doing it.

    1. John Kvach

      I do have pictures but there is not a share pictures button on here. Love to share them.

  7. I wish someone would tell went they do clean up of the different cemetery’ s so we could come and help with them. I live in North Florida and would love to help.

  8. My ancestors were owned by John Miller and his family early settlers of Madison County. Is there a list of
    slaves owned by John Miller ? Is there a graveyard in Madison County for Negroes that might contain any people owned by John or Thomas Miller ?

    1. Donald, the Heritage Room of the Huntsville Madison County Library has a collection of historical books published by the TVGS. There is also an index for the publications available as well. The Miller Family Bible was copyrighted 1725 in New York. The Bible records are included in one of the issues. Records for John and Polly Brown Miller,their descendants, servants, and other Miller family connections are recorded therein. John and Polly were married in 1804 in KY. They arrived in New Market and began to purchase land there in 1819. They and many of their descendants are buried at Mount Paran Campground Cemetery on Graveyard Hill at New Market. His brother Garland Burleigh Miller was an 1809 owner of some of the cemetery property. Thomas Miller settled at Hickory Flat/Plevna, AL. In 1817, Thomas platted lots for his settlement known as “Hillsborough”. By 1834, New Market, had become the local commercial center. Thomas Miller, his wife Anna, and most of their descendants are buried at the Miller Cemetery at what is know know as “Plevna”. John’s son, William Brown Miller married a Cherokee lady. She and her infant child are buried at Mount Paran. Wm Brown Miller became a founder of Dallas, TX. Google: Millermore Plantation, Dallas TX. Google: Joppa, TX, Quite a few of the black Miller families still reside there and have an annual Miller Family reunion. Sadly, Mount Paran Cemetery has a large number of unknown burials. An illegal timberman destroyed many of the historic markers in 1966. He was prosecuted and found liable. The destruction of the ancient cedar trees and to the final resting places of so many of our ancestors is unforgivable! He did meet an untimely death soon thereafter! In 1979, the Madison County Commission spent weeks removing the fallen trees and assisting with clean-up of the cemetery. Myself, and numerous other family members, historical groups, local community, churches, boy scouts, and the University of Alabama struggle to maintain the cemetery. The Madison County Commission and members of the New Market Volunteer Fire Department have contributed many hours to assist our efforts. We have a non-profit corporation established to oversee the cemetery. Maintaining the six acre site is an ongoing struggle. The Town of New Market is located on the National Register of Historical Sites. Unfortunately, the cemetery is located across Mountain Fork Creek (Davis Creek, 1817) on a high hill which is not included in the survey of the town site! Last year, I was informed, the cemetery is not on the National Register but needs a separate application! I believe it will take an Act of God, but hopefully the untiring efforts of Dr, John Kavach, the Madison County Commission, family members, historical groups, and the assistance of the University of Alabama in Huntsville success will eventually be forthcoming. If I could catch the wild herd of goats running around in Kennemer’s Cove, I would turn them loose in the cemetery!

  9. Sorry for this detailed and a bit off subject post but I have found the best tool for growth infestations in Old graveyards is just apply weed and plant killer. It last several years and in this day of excessive rainfall it will keep the growth in check. Unfortunately it kills the good plants with the bad ones though. However, I visited this cemetery a couple of yeas ago but did not work nor photography. I don’t recall seeing any Vinca Minor or Rose bushes, so maybe there are no (small) good plants to be concerned with.

  10. Elizabeth Brannon Nickelson

    Thank you for doing a story on this. A lot of people here in New Market are doing all they can to help preserve it and to keep it clean. The weeds seem to get out of hand very easily.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      I hope it helps. Winter is a good time to clear cemeteries of weeds.

  11. Marlon Long

    Ya’LL need to get off them Madison County bridges and focus on the graveyard…

    1. Elizabeth Brannon Nickelson

      Sorry, but the bridges that are getting replaced needed to be replaced. The one on Winchester Rd was falling apart! I do agree with you about the graveyard though.

    2. Marlon Long

      Actually you missed my point of the matter. I was being comical because of the Movie that Clint Eastwood made with the title of “Madison Count Bridges” of Alabama… (:

  12. Sue Lucas DeBoer

    A shame to see it go to the wild.

  13. The authorities should take immediate action and restore it . Thanks for the great article. Great article!

  14. My grandfather Jess Edwards and grandmother Alfie Edwards are buried there. We have been involved in cleaning it a lot of times and even years ago my dad, and husband would go up and work around their graves and a few others.I love this article and I love the graveyard. I played there as a little girl .I lived in a house down the hill beside the highway.

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