District Hill Cemetery being restored by volunteers and family members

African American cemetery dates back to the late 1800s

CHICKAMAUGA, Ga (WDEF) – The District Hill Cemetery is a historic African-American cemetery in Chickamauga, Georgia.  It was neglected for many years…but is finally being restored . 

Buried inside the cemetery is Mark Thrash,  an African-American slave and groundskeeper of the Chickamauga Battlefield. “Uncle Mark” as he was known became an icon-  for his stories about battle and his love of the area.

The woman behind the restoration project is 4th generation landowner of the property Joyce Haslerig Harrison. 

“The Gordon Lees own a big plantation. We think this was their burial place for slaves because there was a time that they had some legal papers that said 800-1000 people are buried here,” says Haslerig Harrison. 

Thanks to ground penetrating radar, more than 120 African-Americans bodies are thought to be buried in graves on the District Hill Cemetery plot of  land. 

Family members and volunteers have been working since 2012 to clean up the grounds and restore dignity to the final resting place of their loved ones.

“We did the ground penetrating radar, put fences up, cleared it, groomed in and now we’re putting the markers down. Those people deserve better than that. That was the beginning of this taking off and now it’s finally coming back to fruition and it needed to,” says John Culpepper, Chairman for the Georgia Civil War Commission.

Beverly Foster’s husband has some of his family members buried inside the District Hill Cemetery and she’s thankful to the community for honoring those that played a role in building Northwest Georgia. 

“ The community no matter what culture they are, feels that the history of everyone that helped build Walker County and made Walker County successful is important and I greatly appreciate that. It’s going to impact the whole community on the Heritage Trail of Northwest Georgia and Walker County but it will definitely have an impact on the African-American community,” says Beverly Foster, President of the Walker County African American Historic Alumni Association.

Officials hope to have this historic cemetery completely restored and open to the public by 2023

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