News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Decatur welcome to Garth cemetery
Family not opposed
to making donation

By Deangelo McDaniel · 340-2469

If the city of Decatur wants the historic Garth Cemetery on Danville Road Southwest, family members say they are willing to donate it.

"I think that would be great," Robert Garth said about the possibility of city officials maintaining the cemetery.

Garth, who is the great-great-great-great-grandson of Jesse Winston Garth, resides in Pensacola, Fla.

His father, Winston Garth, has the deed to the remaining 20-acre tract that was once part of one of the largest plantations in Morgan County. The cemetery comprises less than an acre and has dedicated access from Danville Road. It is overgrown.

$10,000 study of sites

On Monday, the council authorized Mayor Don Kyle to accept a $10,000 grant from the Alabama Historical Commission to conduct a study of historical sites in Southwest Decatur.

Kyle said he isn't sure if the Garth Cemetery is included in the study area, but he believes the city should do what it can to acquire the property because of its historical value.

Melinda Dunn, who works at the Old State Bank building, presented the grant proposal to the council, but she was not available to comment.

"Hopefully, we can make this happen," Kyle said, about acquiring the property.

The cemetery is the burial site of Jesse Winston Garth, a War of 1812 veteran and one of Decatur's founding fathers.

Garth, Isaac Lane, McKinney Holderness, George Peck and Dr. Henry Rhodes were the first directors of Decatur Land Co., which laid out the city's streets.

Unlike the others, Garth remained in the area.

By July 1818, Jesse Winston Garth had recorded almost 1,500 acres in Morgan County. An 1837 survey map shows his home is the only structure within miles of Decatur.

The 1850 Morgan County census shows him owning 189 slaves, $150,000 in personal property and real estate valued at $75,000.

Robert Garth, who has a collection of Garth family letters, said Jesse Winston Garth came to Morgan County because of cold weather in St. Louis.

“He left Virginia for Missouri because he had a brother there, but stayed only one winter,” Robert Garth said.

As for the cemetery, Robert Garth said the family thought someone was taking care of it. He said the brothers who are involved with the trust would have to donate the property.

“We understand this is a big part of the city’s history and we want it protected,” Robert Garth said.

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or

Email This Page