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Wesley's Chapel Community Cemetery
Dekalb County, Alabama

Contributed by Lana Floyd, Jul 25, 2000 [w4ctk@farmerstel.com]. Total records = 847.

The Wesley's Chapel Community Cemetery is located between Fort Payne and Sylvania on Sand Mountain, Go two miles northwest of Ft Payne on Highway 11 North, over Interstate 59, to County Road 27, Turn left on County Road 27 (Sylvania Highway) and travel for approximately two miles before going up Sand Mountain at Gibson's Gap, Once upon Sand Mountain go about two more miles to County Road 899 which turns left off the Sylvania Highway, Wesley's Chapel United Methodist Church and adjoining cemetery are located at the junction of this road with the Sylvania Highway

Compiled by A.C. Ellis & Pat Dawson Ellis, May 2000.

The oldest burial is believed to be that of Mrs Rebecca Coley, b. Oct 32, 1845, d. Jan, 25, 1885, According to Clyde Hardman, the Reverend James A. "Anthony" King, b. 1877, d. 1952, told him that Mrs, Coley was buried very near the old school house which was located where the Wesley's Chapel Church is now standing, According to Reverend King, the area where Mrs, Coley was buried had to be cleared of brush, etc, before the grave could be dug, Reverend King is said to have observed the grave being dug while he was a student in the school,

The main portion of the cemetery is adjacent to and north of the church building, This original portion of the cemetery may have been associated with the Blake school that preceded the establishment of Wesley's Chapel, It has not been determined how this land was obtained, but it isknown that the land on which the church and cemetery are located was originally part of a 40 acre parcel of land that dates back to 1859 when an original land patent was received by a Hugh McVey,

The second portion of the cemetery was added in 1916 upon the death of William Dolphus Ballenger who was buried on the corner of land that belonged to the Ballenger family, It has been passed down by various people, as well as family descendants, that this portion of the cemetery originally belonged to the Ballenger family, The only other burial in this portion of the cemetery is Julia "Granny" Ballenger who was the wife of William Dolphus Ballenger,

The final portion of the cemetery was added in recent history, This is the northern most part of the cemetery and consist of land that was owned by Robert Massengill, There are few burial places remaining in the cemetery today, It is becoming evident that new land will be needed within a few years if the cemetery is to continue to serve the needs of the community and its families,

THE ORIGINS OF DECORATION SUNDAY:
The Wesley's Chapel Community Cemetery is a cemetery established by early Sand Mountain settlers who followed the traditions brought over by the Scot, d. Irish and continued by the early highland pioneers, Following these early practices, the graves in the cemetery are arranged in rows (north, d. south axis) so that the graves will face the rising sun in the East, Another practice was to locate the cemetery on land higher than the surrounding terrain, It is to be noted that the Wesley's Chapel Community Cemetery is so situated, The practice of preparing the graves with sand so that they have the appearance of mounds is an early tradition that is rapidly disappearing with the advent of urbanization, These graves, which were originally kept clean and devoid of vegetation were "decorated" with various ornaments such as sea shells, artifacts, etc, The graves are now usually decorated with flowers, The practice of decorating the graves on a specified Sunday, such as the "Third Sunday in May", is a custom that is unique to the area consisting of Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia, and adjacent areas of Tennessee,

THEY ARE WITH US STILL

In the struggles we choose for ourselves, in the ways we move forward
in our lives and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those who gave us strength in this
choice of living, It is right to name the power of hard lives well, d. lived,

We share a history with those lives,
We belong to the same motion,

They too were strengthened by what had gone before,
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be,

Those who lived before us, who struggled for justice and suffered in
justice before us, have not melted into the dust, and have not disappeared,

They are with us still!
The lives they lived hold us steady,

Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves,
Their courage and love evoke our own,

We, the living, carry them with us
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts

We take them with us, and with them choose
the deeper path of living, - Kathleen McTigue

 

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