Historic Cemetery Tours – Oak Hill & Elmwood

(Page being reworked – please check back in a few days)


Oak Hill Cemetery

Oak Hill Cemetery, located just north of downtown, is Birmingham, Alabama’s oldest cemetery, though not the oldest in the current city limits, or in Jefferson County. Originally 21.5 acres (87,000 m2) on the estate of James M. Ware, it was already a burial ground by April 1869 when it served as the resting place for the infant daughter of future mayor Robert H. Henley. It was marked as “City Cemetery” on the original plats for Birmingham laid out by the Elyton Land Company and was formally sold to the city on December 29, 1873 for the sum of $1,073.50.

Most of the 10,000 or so burials at Oak Hill were interred before 1930, including nine of the ten landholders who founded the city, many early mayors, a Revolutionary soldier, numerous American Civil War veterans, and the first male child born in the city. Although few records exist from the time, most believe the “Potter’s Field” section was also used as the final resting place for many victims of the 1873 cholera epidemic.

Historic tours telling the stories of notable burials and tidbits of cemetery art and lore to begin late Summer 2016


Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood is the other historic main cemetery in the city and the 12th largest cemetery in the country with approximately 126,000 burials. Established in the 1880s (as Elm Leaf Cemetery), it was renamed in 1906 and gradually eclipsed Oak Hill Cemetery as the most prominent burial place in the city.

The first recorded burial was of Annie Cleveland, an eight month old girl, in October 28, 1900. Originally, the cemetery was whites-only. It was was integrated in 1970 after Vietnam War veteran Bill Terry Jr’s family won a federal lawsuit barring the owners from discriminating based on race.

Tours will begin on alternating Sundays in Late Summer 2016