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.