The family cemeteries of Highway 119

By KATHRYN ACREE

Members of the Harris, Acton and Overton families are among those buried in the Harris Family Cemetary on Highway 119 near Brook Highland Drive. Photo by Kathryn Acree.

Family cemeteries along Highway 119 memorialize early area residents who came before us in the last century and afterward. Formerly known as the Ashville-Montevallo Road, the road was an Indian trail before becoming a stagecoach route to serve residents of Shelby County.

We visited the Shelby County Historical Society to research a few of these family cemeteries and then braved exploring the graves ourselves.

Allan Family Cemetery

Located near the intersection of County Road 14 and Highway 119, the Allan family cemetery’s earliest burial is from 1835. According to county records, the cemetery was originally known as the Johnson family cemetery after Colonel Isaac Johnson who purchased the land in 1829.

Veterans of wars ranging from the War of 1812 to Vietnam are buried here representing some of the oldest family names in Shelby County. Sentiments on headstones are both heartbreaking, “In her last sickness frequent was her call ‘Ma come to me,’” to utterly simple, ”He’s just away.”

A white-frame chapel built in the 1940’s is a prominent feature of the property. Often mistaken as an old church, the chapel hosted funerals singings, and a decoration day in June when families visited to clean and adorn the graves. Descendants of those buried here still maintain the area.

Harris Family Cemetery

Established in 1852, the Harris family cemetery is on Highway 119 near John Deere Landscapes across from Brook Highland Drive. David Overton and his wife, Mary, are buried here. According to county records, Overton was the first settler in this area in 1815, living in a crude log cabin and farming in the Cahaba Valley. By the mid 1800s, the area had become known as Bridgeton, much of which now sits under the waters of nearby Lake Purdy.

Beed- McDaniel Cemetery

Driving down Highway 119 near the back entrance to Eagle Point subdivision you may never have realized that a small family gravesite sits on private property near the road.  County historical records have the site recorded, but there is no information available on the family buried there. Two headstones remain intact, and only one is legible, noting it is the final resting place of Lilly Beed McDaniel, a ten-year-old girl who died in 1916. Small stones near the graves indicate more family members are buried here but are unmarked.

Writer’s note: Many thanks to the Shelby County Historical Society for their assistance with this article.

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3 responses to “The family cemeteries of Highway 119

  1. interesting read. I have lots of material collected to write a book, that I started with the help of Bruce Ellis but never finished, about the history of Shelby County. Let me know if you need something.

    • Hi Sally,
      I’ve been doing some research on Cahaba Valley history. My research shows John Acton Sr. arrived in New Hope area in 1816. His mother in law, Jane Roberts is buried at Old Acton cemetery, and may be the oldest grave in Shelby County?

      John Acton started the New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian church in 1829 at its present location at 119 and Caldwell Mill. The Actons shared the valley with the Bailey, Johnson, Lee, Cross, Overton, and other families.

      Elvira Bailey, born 8-16-1816 is reported to be the first white child born in Shelby County. Her parents are Thomas Bailey and Zilpha Lee.

      I can only assume there was a Caldwell Mill, as the Caldwells were early settlers in the area, and a Looney Mill and another by the 280 bridge. Never seen these written about or pictures of them.

      Any info on the history of the Indian Springs Baptist, whose cemetery most of the Cross family is buried? Any pictures of the old New Hope, Bold Springs, Acton, or Rocky Ridge churches?

      -=Dan=-
      Dan Smart

  2. Rollin (Ron) Johnson

    There are at least three more old cemeteries along 119. Behind Indian Springs Baptist Church is the originally Capt. William Cross Cemetery located on what was his lands and in which he was the second burial in 1845. The first known burial was Granddaughter Polly Ann Cross age three in 1843.

    Located behind the residence at 2300 Cahaba Valley Road is what remains of an old cemetery, original name unknown, that I have named for Andrew Jackson Cross , Jr- 2nd. It is the resting place of his wife and two children. Andrew was killed in the Battle of Nashville about Dec 16, 1864 and so far as is known his body was not identified. He would have been a member of Co. G, 20th Ala. Inf. which was made up of many men from the local area. This cemetery was almost totally destroyed by construction but the current owners have recovered a few markers and restored them as well as possible.

    A third known cemetery is located on the property of Indian Springs School somewhere between the lake and 119. It is a very small cemetery for the family of T.B. Miller who lived there and is buried in it. I have not seen this one in years.

    Hope this adds to your information. Please contact me if you would like further information

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