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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

Linwood Cemetery

SOURCES: Historic Images of America: Historic Linwood Cemetery by Linda Kennedy and Mary Jane Galer, 2004. Linwood Cemetery National Register of Historic Places Nomination, 1978. Linwood through the Lens by Historic Linwood Foundation, 2014. Living in Columbus, Georgia 1828 - 1869, Southern Research, 2005. Columbus, Georgia from its selection as a "Trading Town" in 1827 to its Partial Destruction by Wilson's Raid in 1865, compiled by John H. Martin, 1874.


The survey for the city of Columbus was started during the first of February 1828 and was led by surveyor Edward Lloyd Thomas. The weather was cold and rainy. The men were working in the wilderness, cutting clown trees as they progressed; and with much water standing on the ground, suffered great hardships. A number of them fell ill, and some died, among them Thomas’ son, Truman, on March 26, 1828. He was the first person to be buried in what would become the City Cemetery, now known as Linwood Cemetery. Reluctant to wander too far away from his child’s resting place, Edward spent the next month roaming the area around his loss. The four acres would eventually become Columbus’ first cemetery, with Truman at its center. It remains unknown where the young man was buried and there is no memorial to mark his plot. According to Martin’s compilation of our community’s early history, the cemetery for White residents was to be located on the northeast corner of the city, east of Mercer Street (Sixth Avenue), between Franklin and Bridge streets (14th and 15th Streets). The cemetery for the African American community, enslaved and free, was to be placed east of Mercer Street (Sixth Avenue), between Few and Early streets (7th and 6th Streets).

Some Columbus residents, as well as those traveling through town, did not survive bouts with epidemics or other contagions. Columbus planned for contingencies in dealing with this matter as early as 1833, when the commissioners appointed a committee to “examine a vehicle belonging to Mr. Dillingham and if thought to be suitable, to purchase it for the use of the corporation [of Columbus] as a hearse” (Clerk of Council 1832-1837:45). Carpenters and carpentry companies were routinely reimbursed by the Board of Commissioners (what we now call City Council) for making coffins for indigent burials. The firm of Clapp & Chandler was paid $ 191.50 in December of 1836 for making coffins (Clerk of Council 1832-1837:239). The same firm also supplied fire hooks, ladders, and other necessary items to the city.

A total of 44 bodies were interred at the City Cemetery by 1839. Almost half (21) of these burials were of children under the age of ten (Clerk of Council 1837-29 June 1841:325). In 1845, a committee reported in favor of the enlargement of the cemetery by the addition of 602 feet in length and 32.0 feet in width, and the enclosure of the whole under one new fence. They also approved a sale of burying lots to defray the expense of this improvement. The city then appointed another committee to have a survey of the grounds made, and to carry out the plan and recommendations of the first committee if it could be done without expense to the city. The city added more land until Linwood reached its present size in 1873. Land was set aside in the cemetery for the Jewish community and the first Jewish burial was in 1852. By 1874, lots in the cemetery could be purchased for $25.00.

The name of the cemetery was officially changed in 1894 by the City Council when the surrounding neighborhood was named Linwood. Linwood, the neighborhood, occupied the lands lying between the present Tenth Avenue on the West and Eighteenth Avenue on the East and extending from Thirteenth Street to Linwood Boulevard. These homes were set in the midst of large acreage. The name Linwood is believed to have originated from the popular 19th century novel Ernest Linwood. Written during the antebellum era by Caroline Lee Hentz, the book describes life on the plantations of the Columbus area. Hentz was an internationally recognized 19th century American author, who wrote the 1854 novel "The Planter's Northern Bride." Caroline married Nicolaus Marcellus Hentz on September 30, 1824. While in North Carolina in 1832, Caroline is credited for teaching the enslaved George Moses Horton to write. Recognizing Horton's talent as a poet, she sent a collection of his poems to New England to be published in 1828. George then became the first African American to publish a book in the United States. In 1848, the couple opened a school in Columbus, but as her husband's health declined, she was given the responsibility of managing the school though he had the title of headmaster. By 1849, her husband became bedridden, thus her writing became the family's source of income. The couple would leave Columbus for Marianna, Florida in 1852. Her novel, Ernest Linwood, was published in 1856, the year Caroline died from pneumonia.

This was the ante-bellum home of Nathaniel Nuckolls. The house stood for many years and became apartments. It was originally located on 15th Street and, at some point, was moved to 11th Avenue across from Linwood School (now the Stewart Community Home). It was demolished in the 1960s/1970s.

The gravestones at Linwood Cemetery include some by the most notable American sculptors of the 19th century. Many of the carvings are quite remarkable. The headstones dating from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s show an evolution in technique and style. Well-known carvers such as Henry McCauley, Patrick Adams, and Andrew M. Elledge created beautiful memorials in stone to honor the deceased. Several early artisans immigrated from Ireland to this bustling town on the Chattahoochee; others were born here. No matter from where they hailed, their handicrafts have inspired and consoled many generations and set Linwood Cemetery apart as an architectural treasure.

Patrick Adams supplied the first tablets to mark graves in Linwood. Adams was a brick mason and builder in Columbus from 1828 until his death in 1853 at the age of 46. He was also a respected stone carver. His monument, pictured above, is characteristic of the style he and his partner, John Madden, developed together.

Mr. Adams is also credited with building the Perry House (pictured above) in 1853. Later named the Racine Hotel, it was located on the northeast corner of 13th Street and First Avenue, where Wells Fargo is now located.

Irishman Henry McCauley was the most artistic and creative of the local stone carvers who crafted tombstone and grave monuments in the City Cemetery in the 19th century. McCauley operated a marble yard in Columbus from 1856 to 1879. Much of McCauley's stonework depicts finely detailed floral wreaths such as the one pictured above.

The tallest monument in the cemetery is topped by a woman’s figure holding a cross, representing faith. With one hand raised, she points out the path to heaven. Buried in this lot is Catherine Francesca Brassel Burrus, wife of George Joseph Burrus, a wine merchant who immigrated to Detroit from Marlenheim Provence, France. They had 10 children. After George died in 1833, Catherine came to Columbus to be near other members of her family. The extended Burrus family was locally prominent in the grocery business and the manufacture of cotton. Catherine and her unmarried nephew Charles are the only two of the family buried in this lot. Charles left his money to his cousins, who erected this monument.

Almost every American war is represented among the graves of Linwood - Revolutionary soldiers, as well as veterans from the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II and Korea. The majority of those soldiers buried in Linwood are those who fought with the Confederacy. Being far removed from the battlefronts, Columbus was able to develop its industry and agriculture to the point it was second only to Richmond in supplying war material and foodstuffs. Columbus also became a hospital center, with wounded and ill soldiers sent here to convalesce. When a soldier died, he was brought to the cemetery and buried in one of two sections that were set aside.

In a small frontier town that rapidly grew into a thriving industrial city, several residents changed the course of local and even world history. From librarians to suffragettes, from railroad promoters to boat builders, from ice cream makers to soft drink manufacturers, each of these people made their mark on the history of our town. Sprawling family lots, grand carved monuments, and even humble gravestones memorialize these citizens and their lasting contributions to the civic, economic, and spiritual life of Columbus. Among the individuals buried at Linwood are some of the most significant people in Georgia history. Dr. John S. Pemberton, for example, spent many years as a Columbus pharmacist before moving to Atlanta where he made his unique soft drink, Coca-Cola, a household name. Other burials of note include Lizzie Rutherford Ellis, the leader of the group of Columbus women responsible for originating Memorial Day; General Henry Benning, the "Rock" of the Confederacy for whom Fort Benning is named; James Warner, the engineer who built the C.S.S. Jackson at Columbus; Augusta Howard, a leader in the fight to extend the right to vote for women, and Dr. Francis Orray Ticknor, writer of the Civil War poem, "Little Giffen." For a listing of notable residents of Linwood Cemetery, click here: Notable Residents – Historic Linwood Cemetery

Over the years, the cemetery had been neglected and was not a pleasant place to visit. It was much overgrown with scrub brush and the brick walls were tumbling down into the roadway. Many of the monuments were broken. Linwood Cemetery survived the ravages of time, vandalism, neglect and underfunding to become a beautiful outdoor museum of the history of our community. This transformation is directly related to the formation of the Historic Linwood Foundation. In January 1997, the local Lizzie Rutherford Chapter 60 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy called a community meeting to see if there was interest in starting a friend group for Linwood Cemetery. At this community meeting, to which many of the families in Columbus who had family buried in Linwood were invited, about 25 people came. They were very enthusiastic and interested in trying to reclaim the cemetery. The Historic Linwood Foundation was born, and the group has been the guardian of this special place for the past 26 years. Linwood Cemetery is more than a memorial garden, more than iron markers and marble headstones. Linwood Cemetery is a repository of Columbus history - financial, social, and spiritual. Historic Columbus is thankful to the Historic Linwood Foundation for their continued support and care for this National Register site and for all they do to share the history and stories within it.

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