Historic Memphis Cemeteries

                  ... and the Eternal Resting Places

 
 

Prior to 1860, formal burial in the United States was primarily restricted to interment of the body on the grounds of a church or meeting house.  These church graveyards were dreary places with little room for vegetation, which didn't encourage the visitor to linger.  Graves were often unsightly and hasty places to quickly dispose of the dead.  As the 19th century progressed, towns grew into cities.  For reasons of public health and overcrowding, and the realization that not everyone belonged to a church, burial grounds began to be located outside the population centers, no longer on church grounds.  As this practice grew, it spawned the "Rural Cemetery Movement".   

 

These new rural cemeteries were planned with the "romantic" in mind, and were based on English gardening, where Nature was idealized and designed to provide sanctuary, solitude, quiet, adornment, and beauty.  It was not uncommon for families to picnic in cemeteries.  During the Victorian Era, the popular view of death became more romanticized, and represented by symbols including angels, flowers, and plants.  These ideas are reflected in the life-sized statuary in cemeteries.  Thus the old graveyard evolved from a sinister place of respect, to a place of spiritual significance where one could visit the departed and at the same time, think about their own eternal resting place. 

 

As soon as you step inside the gate of one of the Historic Memphis cemeteries,  you realize when you check the grave markers, that you're learning the story of the city as well,  and possibly better than from anywhere else. 

 

 

      This website will not attempt to include every cemetery in Memphis and Shelby County.

 

 

All Saints Cemetery  .  7500 E. Holmes Road
 
All Saints Cemetery was consecrated in 1993.  It's one of the 3 Catholic cemeteries in the Memphis vicinity.  All Saints was opened to serve the burial needs of Catholics living in each Shelby County.  A unique feature of the cemetery is a burial garden for cremated remains - now approved by Vatican II.
 

Entrance Sign

Cemetery

New Sign

Mausoleum

 

Cemetery

Monument Historical Marker Lake
 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the All Saints photos               

 

    
  
Baron Hirsch Cemetery    .  1523 S. Rozelle
 

For over 160 years, the Baron Hirsch cemetery has been an integral part of orthodox life in the Jewish community of Memphis.  The first burial here dates back to 1847.  Walking through these sacred grounds will give you a Jewish history lesson unlike any other.  You'll see names of people who were absolute pillars of the community - from the Yellow Fever epidemic, World Wars I and II, and the Holocaust.  During the past 100 years the cemetery has expanded to over ten acres, which represents over 3.400 burials.  There is  enough land to contain an additional 1,400 grave sites without any additional expansion. 

 

Main Entrance

Secondary Entrance

Cemetery

Cemetery

 
 

 
 
Bethlehem Cemetery  .  Holmes Road at Lamar Avenue
 

This cemetery was donated by the Bethlehem Methodist Church.  It is located on Holmes Road just east of Highway 78 near the community of Capleville, not far from the Mississippi state line.  There may have been a church located here at one time.

 

Entrance Gate Sign Cemetery
 

Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

... Thanks to Thomas R. Machnitzki  for the Bethlehem photos        

 

 
 
Beth Sholom Memorial Gardens     .  Appling Road
 

Beth Sholom Memorial Gardens, was consecrated in 1966.  The beautifully maintained Gardens are situated on 10 acres and there is a covered pavilion that comfortably seats 100 guests for services. The grounds and walkways allow easy access to all areas for visitation.  All graves are of equal size with bronze plaques at ground level. The cemetery is a locked and gated facility, with code  available by calling the synagogue office (683-3591).

   

Beth Sholom

Entrance Gate

Pavilion

Aerial View

 
       

 
 
Bettis Family Cemetery  .  Angelus Street between Madison and Poplar
 

This small cemetery is the final resting place of the Bettis Family - one of the original families of Memphis.   Tillman Bettis, his wife Sally and four children came to Memphis in 1818 for the procurement of land.   They became the second family to settle on the Memphis bluff after the 1818 treaty - even before the town was laid out.  Tillman built a huge farm on his property which extended all the way from Poplar to Union and from McNeil to Cooper.   And it's thought that here, Sally gave birth to Mary, the first white  female born in Memphis - their 6th child.  Sally died in 1826, after the birth of their 9th child and her headstone in the cemetery is thought to be the oldest in Shelby County.  Tillman died in 1854.  This historic cemetery is now owned by Home Depot who has promised to maintain it.  Currently there is a stone wall around it and a marker is in place.   Descendants of the Bettis family still live in the mid-south area.  

 

Marker Tillman Bettis Wall around Cemetery Cemetery

Tillman Stone  

 

Sallie Stone

Gravestone

Gravestone

Gravestone

Gravestone

 

Entrance to cemetery

Cemetery wall

Newspaper Article

Jimetta Bettis

Jimetta Bettis - Gordon   

 

... Thanks to Duke Gill for the Bettis photos              

  

    
 
Calvary Cemetery  .  1663 Elvis Presley Blvd.
 

Calvary Cemetery was consecrated in 1867, shortly after the close of the Civil War.  It's located in an area of South Memphis where no less than six cemeteries are grouped together and form a 240-acre green oasis in the middle of the city.    For many years Calvary was Memphis' only Catholic cemetery.  Over 50,000 are buried in Calvary representing virtually every Catholic family that lived in Memphis over the past 130 years.

 

Entrance Marker - Cemetery
 

Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery Cemetery Vault Lawn Crypts
 

Cemetery Cemetery Sign Cemetery
 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the Calvary  photos           

           

 
 
Elmwood Cemetery  *  824 S. Dudley Street.
 

Elmwood Cemetery was established in 1852 as part of the Rural Cemetery Movement which swept the nation in the early to mid 1800s.  This movement envisioned that the land would be a park for the living as well as for the dead, a place where family outings could occur.  It's a classic example of a garden cemetery with a park-like setting, with sweeping vistas, lush shady knolls, large, ancient, towering trees, and magnificent sculpture and monuments.   The cemetery was originally 40 acres, but was expanded to 80 acres after the Civil War.   The name "Elmwood" was chosen in a drawing.

Buried here are some of the city's most honored and revered dead - those loved and feared.  There are veterans of every American war, from the American Revolution up to the Vietnam War.  And there are folks from every walk of life, including Mayors of Memphis, Governors of Tennessee, U.S. Senators, madams, blues singers, suffragists, martyrs, generals, civil rights leaders, holy men, outlaws and millionaires, and of course, ordinary citizens. 

 

* Elmwood Cemetery has its own comprehensive coverage on another page of this website >  Click here

 

Bridge Lord's Chapel Snowden Grave Arnold Grave
 

Napoleon Hill Grave Cemetery Grosvenor Grave Confederate Monument
 

... Thanks to Woody Savage for the Elmwood photos            

 

 
 
Forest Hill - Midtown .       1661 S. Elvis Presley Blvd.
  

Forest Hill has served the Memphis area since 1888.  There are now three locations.  The first cemetery, on Elvis Presley Blvd, began with 160 acres, but  40 were acquired by the US Postal Service.  It's a beautiful cemetery, with 100-year old oaks and maple trees and monuments dating back into the 1800's.  The first Mausoleum was built in 1915.  Over the years there have been many revisions and enhancements to the Chapel.

The Mausoleum here achieved major fame when it served as temporary entombment to Elvis Presley in 1977, while permanent entombment was being prepared at Graceland.  

    

Entrance Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

Mausoleum Mausoleum

Wm R. Moore

Moore Graves

 

Cemetery Postcard Cemetery

Receiving Vault

 

Mausoleum Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

The four vintage Forest Hill photos above are from the 1912 "Art Work of Memphis" in the collection of Lee Askew

 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the Forest Hill-Midtown photos         

 
  
  
Forest Hill - South  .       2545 E. Holmes Road
 

The 2nd location is at 2545 E. Holmes Road.  It was established in 1962 with 80 acres.  It's located near the Mississippi River and T. O. Fuller State Park, close to Memphis International Airport.  It serves as the resting place for many of the area's prominent and founding families.  Due to it's location, this cemetery also serves families in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.  The cemetery offers traditional in-ground burials, cremation, lawn crypts, and mausoleum interments.

 

Entrance Office Entrance Monument
 

Cemetery Monument Monument Mausaleum
  

Mausoleum

Cemetery Monument Map
 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the Forest Hill-South photos           

 
 
 
Forest Hill - East  .       2440 Whitten Road
 
The 3rd location was established in 1971 in East Memphis.  It is the largest funeral home facility.  Located on 70 acres, there's a beautiful plantation style funeral home, including lakes and many trees, ducks and geese.
 

Entrance Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

 


  
 
Hollywood Cemetery  .  2012 Hernando Road
 

The Hollywood Cemetery Company was established in 1909 and they own two historically significant African American Cemeteries in Memphis - Hollywood Cemetery on Hernando Road and Mr. Carmel Cemetery on Elvis Presley Blvd.   Sadly, both of them are weedy and overgrown with many broken headstones scattered throughout.  Hollywood is subject to floods and graves in both cemeteries have sunk. Blues musician Walter "Fury" Lewis who died in 1981 is buried in Hollywood.  Volunteers have now begun to periodical cut the grass and weeds at both cemeteries. 

 

Entrance Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

... Thanks to  Josh Whitehead  for the Hollywood photos       

 

     
 
Memorial Park Cemetery  .  5668 Poplar Av
 

Memorial Park was founded in 1924 by E. Clovis Hinds on 54 acres.  Different species of trees, from ancient to new, can be found throughout the cemetery, enhancing the park-like setting.  The cemetery is particularly noted for artist Dionicio Rodriquez's Crystal Shrine Grotto, the world's only man-made crystal cave, which depicts Biblical scenes.  But Memorial Park's outstanding feature is its beauty and naturally rolling terrain.  Just inside the entrance is a gracefully curved reflecting pool and three-tiered fountain. 

Entrance Entrance Entrance Entrance
  

Pool Pool Bridge Crystal Grotto
 

Postcard Office Cemetery Cemetery
  

... Thanks to Amada Ford for the Memorial Park photos              

  

 
 
Memory Gardens Cemetery  .  6444 Raleigh Lagrange Road
 

With well-manicured gardens, stately features and plenty of burial and cremation options, Memphis Memory Gardens is a beautiful and dignified place to remember and honor your loved ones.

 

Entrance Cemetery Landscape Feature Cemetery Map
 

Cemetery Landscape Feature Landscape Feature Cemetery
 

Landscape feature Landscape Feature Landscape Feature Landscape Feature
 

... Thanks to Amada Ford for the Memory Gardens photos             

 

 
 
Mount Carmel Cemetery  .  Elliston and Elvis Pressley Blvd.
  

The Hollywood Cemetery Company was established in 1909 and they own two historically significant African American Cemeteries in Memphis, the Hollywood Cemetery on Hernando Road and Mt. Carmel Cemetery on Elvis Presley Blvd.   Sadly, both of them are weedy and overgrown with many broken headstones scattered throughout.  Tom Lee, the hero who saved 32 people from drowning in the Mississippi in 1925, died in 1958 and is buried at Mt. Carmel.  Local volunteers have begun to periodically cut the grass and weeds at Mount Carmel.

    

Sign Entrance Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery Tom Lee Over-growth Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

... Thanks to  Josh Whitehead  for the Mt. Carmel photos            

 

    
       
Mount Moriah Cemetery  .  6332 Winchester Road
 

Mt. Moriah Cemetery is located on Winchester Road between Hickory Hill and Kirby Parkway on the North side of the street.  As recently as 30 years ago, this was rural Shelby County but now it's within the Memphis  city limits.  Most of the graves are older than 30 years.  There are even Confederate soldiers here - with no name or date.  The cemetery seems to be well maintained at the present time, but it went through a period of neglect.

 

Sign Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

       
 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the Mount Moriah photos      

 

 
 
National Cemetery  .  3568 Townes Avenue
 

Memphis National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 40,000 veterans.  Interments span over 125 years, from the Civil War to 1992, when the cemetery closed to new burials.  This cemetery has the second largest number of unknown soldiers of any national cemetery, which may be attributed to the long interval between battlefield burial and reinterment.  Often, the crude wood markers that identified original burials had been removed or deteriorated to the point where they wer no longer legible.  National is also the final resting place for hundreds of victims of the SS Sultana, one of the worst maritime disasters in United States history. 

National Cemetery was founded during the Civil War when Memphis fell under Union control.  At this time, the city became a convenient location to care for the sick and wounded troops.  Many hospitals capable of caring for thousands, were established.  With wounded soldiers, there were a lot of deaths and a cemetery was needed.  A board of officers chose and  purchased 32 acres northeast of the city for the site.  It was originally known as Mississippi River National Cemetery.  

 

Entrance Entrance 1908 Postcard Entrance
 

Cemetery Vintage Photo Vintage Photo Vintage Photo
    

Vintage Photo Vintage Photo Vintage Photo Vintage Photo
        
 

 
 

New Park Cemetery . New Park Memorial Gardens  
        . 
4536 Horn Lake Rd                  .  3900 Sewanee Rd

 

Established in 1975, there are now two cemeteries in the Memphis area - New Park Cemetery located at 4536 Horn Lake Rd and New Park Memorial Gardens located at 3900 Sewanee Rd.  They offer at-need arrangement service, and monument and memorial sales. The monument division offers a custom design of the memorial and will install them at other cemeteries.  Both cemeteries are perpetual care cemeteries.  New Park is the final resting place of many well known public figures and personalities.

 

Sign Entrance Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery

Cemetery

Cemetery

Cemetery

 
     

    
 
Raleigh Cemetery  .  4324 Old Raleigh LaGrange Road
 

The Raleigh Cemetery , in the heart of Old Raleigh, was founded in 1841.   Raleigh and Memphis were rival towns.  In 1825 Memphis lost its place as the seat of Shelby County to Raleigh - and didn't gain it back until Memphis' growth boom which led to the incorporation of Raleigh.  Today the cemetery is one of Memphis' most neglected historical treasures.  The last known burial was in 1985 and required special permission.  The oldest stone, so far, dates from 1830.  It was probably a burial ground before the Cumberland Presbyterian Church moved in during the 1840s.  Once they moved in, it became their burial ground.   The people buried here range over all socio-economic and cultural groups.  Memphis' second mayor, Isaac Rawlings, is buried here.  Wade Bolton's children are also buried here - as well as African Americans, and yellow fever victims.  The cemetery is hidden from the road and is much larger than it first appears - seven acres, a lot hidden by weeds and underbrush.  Volunteers currently keep a section of the entire cemetery cleared for visitors. 

 

Historical Marker Entrance Cemetery Isaac Rawlings Rawling's Grave
 

HELP!  Please take 12 to 16 hi-def photos of this cemetery for this web page?  They are needed to replace the temporary Google Earth photos above and they will be credited to you.  Photos of entry gate/sign? ...Historic Marker ? ...scenic shots?. .close up of several graves? ...any important buildings or monuments?  Contact:  gene.gill@verizon.net

 

 
Rose Hill Cemetery  .  Rose Hill and Elvis Presley Blvd.
 

"Not only was this cemetery abandoned, it became a dumping ground and a haven for criminals..."    It got so bad that the community said all of the snakes and rats are coming from one place - the neglected cemetery.   Indeed The 16 acre cemetery became so overgrown that you could barley find the headstones.  The graves had also sunken and full of water.  Some said you could see the caskets.  The neighbors said that snakes and rats would breed there...as well as crime.   The Ellingston Heights Neighborhood Association tried to get the place cleaned up for more than five years.  They claim the state would begin clean-up but never follow through on it.  Today, it appears to be somewhat maintained.

 

Entrance Cemetery Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery

Cemetery Cemetery

Cemetery

 

... Thanks to  Josh Whitehead  for the Rose Hills photos            

 

     
 
Shelby County Cemetery  .  8340 Ellis Road
 

The Shelby County Cemetery is a burial place for paupers and unidentified bodies.  It's also the place for many babies from impoverished homes who are born dead or die in infancy.  It's NOT a regular cemetery as people know it.  90 % of the bodies come from hospitals or the morgue.  Opened since 1965, the Shelby County Cemetery is running out of space.  There are plans for a new cemetery at Raleigh-Millington and Duncan Roads.    

 

Entrance Sign Cemetery Mail

Cemetery

 
 

 
 
South Woods Memorial Park  .  5485 Hacks Cross Road
 

South Woods Memorial Park was established in 1989.  It's highlighted by the tall, majestic Bell Tower, along with six gardens featuring trees and rolling hills, along with a beautiful duck pond.  It offers traditional ground burials and lawn crypts.

 

Entrance Entrance Lawn Crypts Patriot's Estates
 

Cemetery

Cemetery

Cemetery Cemetery
 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the South Woods Memorial Park photos       

 

 
 
Temple Israel Cemetery     .  1708 Hernando Road
  

Originally known as Congregation B'nai Israel-Children of Israel, Temple Israel was formed by 36 German Jewish families in 1853.  It's first synagogue was dedicated in 1858 and was the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Tennessee.  Temple Israel's cemetery has served as the burial ground since 1885.  A special section of the cemetery contains remains that were moved from the previous burial ground on Bass Avenue (Jefferson Av). 

 

       

 

       
 

... Thanks to J. Stephen Sanders  and Sue Lee Johnson for the Temple Israel photos         

  

 
 
West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery  .  4000 Forest Hill-Irene Road
 

The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs operates four Tennesee State Veterans Cemeteries.  The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world.  Burial benefits include a gravesite in any of the 131 national cemeteries (with space), opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone, a burial flag,  and a Presidential Certificate, at no cost to the family.   The West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery was established in January 1992 with a capacity of 30,000 plots.

 

Entrance Rose Garden Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery

Cemetery Memorial

Cemetery

 

Cemetery

Cemetery

Rose Garden

Cemetery

 

... Thanks to Sue Lee Johnson for the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery  photos     

 

 
 
Winchester Cemetery  .  3rd and Poplar ... moved to High Street (Lane Street)
 

Winchester Cemetery was perhaps the oldest burying ground in Memphis.  Records show that it was one of the oldest in Shelby County.   It was established in 1828 as the first cemetery for Memphis and was located at Third and Poplar.  Prior to 1827 no public burial ground was established in Memphis.  There was a small lot used for burial at third and Poplar.  Marcus Winchester, the first mayor of Memphis, donated a plot of ground to the city, consisting of 11 acres on High Street (now Lane Street).  This became Memphis first official cemetery.  Around 1874, Memphis extended its limits and the Winchester Cemetery was no longer used.   The last burial was in 1874.   Most of the bodies at Winchester were removed to Elmwood Cemetery and the old burial ground was made into a park, now called Winchester Park.  Some graves , including the grave of Marcus Winchester, were not moved.  They remain in Winchester park - unmarked.  The biggest indignity of all:  Winchester's grave is now under a city garage on the west side of the property. 

 

Marker

Winchester Cemetery Cemetery Winchester Cemetery
  

1883 - History of Memphis Winchester Park Winchester Park - 1930s

Winchester Park - today

    

Marcus Winchester

Winchester's store

Winchester's Grave ...

Winchester Park - today

 
         

 
 
Zion Cemetery  .  1400 S. Parkway East
 

Zion Cemetery is the oldest African American cemetery in Memphis.  There are more than 30,000 graves in the 15 acres.  The cemetery was established in 1876 by the United Sons of Zion, a black fraternal and benevolent organization and Rev Morris Henderson, the founding pastor of Beale Street Baptist Church.  The original organizers operated a thriving cemetery until they died in the 1920s.  Some heirs tried to continue the maintenance and then the churches also began asking their congregations to help pay for the maintenance.   By 1960 the cemetery was largely abandoned and overgrown.   When the last  owner died, the cemetery was deeded  to the General Board of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who formed a non-profit organization to concentrate on restoration.   In 1990 the cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   Many historical events are associated with this cemetery.  During the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, numerous black victims were buried here.  While most white citizens left the city, many African Americans stayed behind to care for the sick.  And the Pallbearers Association of the cemetery helped prevent looting and maintain order in the city.  It is also the burial place of the 3 victims of the 1892 lynchings that inspired the anti-lynching crusade of Ida B. Wells.  And Georgia Patton, the first black female doctor in Tennessee, is buried here, as well as Thomas F. Cassels, an Assistant Attorney General of Shelby County.    Today, the Zion Community Project, a group of volunteers, continues to clear and maintain the cemetery, with the ultimate goal of complete restoration.

 

Entrance Marker Cemetery Cemetery
 

Cemetery

Cemetery

Cemetery

Cemetery

 

Cemetery

Volunteers

Georgia Patton

Thomas F. Cassels

 

... Thanks to  Zion Community Project, Inc  for the Zion photos        

 

  
 
 

1861 ...  Editorial for "A Potter's Field"

 

 
 
Memphis Cemetery Memorabilia...
 
       
Cremation tag...        
 
 
 
 



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CREDITS

 

The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 

 

The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Sue Lee Johnson, Woody Savage, Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

We do not have high definition  copies of the photos on these pages.  If anyone wishes to secure high definition photos,  you'll have to contact the photographer  or the collector.  (To avoid any possibility of contributing to SPAM, we do not maintain a file of email addresses for anyone who contacts us).