Crumbling headstones, headless angels, and leaning 100-year-old obelisks are a common sight in the oldest and most unique cemetery in Gallatin, Tennessee.
In response, Gallatin city leaders kicked off a 12-week fundraiser, hoping to raise $30,000 for the much-needed repairs.
“Day by day, we’re seeing our history disappear,” said Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown. “The cemetery faces years of aging, shrinking space for new arrivals, and the realization that maintenance of the cemetery can no longer be handled with only lawnmowers and weed eaters.”
A report from the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation also identified multiple issues in the Gallatin City Cemetery needing attention – damage to tombstones, deteriorating fences, sinking markers, and unmarked graves.
“Our first goal of raising funds will be dedicated to the low-hanging fruit of repairs on the site – cleaning and resetting markers that have sunken or fallen over the years,” said cemetery committee member Ken Thomson. “The idea of the 12-week fundraiser is so that we can start using the funds at the start of Spring.”
A donation of $15,000 by Volunteer State Bank was recently used to identify more than 100 unmarked graves in the African-American section of the cemetery using ground-penetrating radar. Records of many burials were destroyed in a fire on the cemetery’s maintenance building in the 1950s.
The cemetery committee is researching monument designs that would honor those buried in the back section of the cemetery, which was segregated prior to the 1950s.
Donations of any amount can be made in the Gallatin City Hall Mayor’s Office at 132 W. Main. For more information on fundraising efforts or volunteer efforts to restore the cemetery call 615-451-5961.