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Volunteers with Shadow Lawn Cemetery plan museum, memorial

A volunteer mows the grass at Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens and Cemetery (Source: Lydia Hu / WBRC)
Tomb of Benjamin Hardman (Source: Lydia Hu / WBRC)
Tomb of Benjamin Hardman (Source: Lydia Hu / WBRC)
Tomb of DT Shields (Source: Lydia Hu / WBRC)
Tomb of DT Shields (Source: Lydia Hu / WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Wednesday marked the twentieth time the grass has been cut in the past year at Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens and Cemetery.

A volunteer weaving the gasoline tractor through the gravestones said it would take eight days to cover the 40 acres.

This volunteer is part of a small group that makes up the Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens Maintenance and Perpetual Care Association. He works to preserve the cemetery and to study the family history and genealogy of the people who lie there.

Founded in 1889 for a dollar, the cemetery was intended for African Americans who could not afford a proper burial.

Over fifteen years ago, dozens of people protested at Shadow Lawn about the conditions at the cemetery. The owners subsequently declared bankruptcy and left the cemetery without a guard.

John Lanier, one of the Association’s volunteers, says several members of his family are buried at Shadow Lawn, including his father and mother. Although the Lanier family plot was purchased for 24 people, half of the plots are occupied by foreigners.

“We thought, ‘This can’t happen. When did that happen? When did they bury people in this section?’”, Recalls Lanier.

Without a cemetery keeper, Lanier is committed to taking care of his family’s graves. And the plots intended for his family but occupied by strangers. And, also, all the other 40,000 graves on the cemetery grounds.

“There should be no doubt that your final resting place will be taken care of,” Lanier said.

He calls it a “labor of love”. The retired government worker, who returned to Birmingham after four decades in Washington, DC, says he never dreamed he would step into running the cemetery.

“Why am I doing this?” Lanier wondered. He has been volunteering for ten years.

“I love to play golf, I love to travel,” he said. “But it’s like a feeling of… it’s an obligation in a way even though we’re all volunteers. I just believe the Lord sends people, puts you in a certain place at a certain time, to do a certain thing. “

Lanier, who studied genealogy at the National Archives in Washington, DC, researched many people buried at Shadow Lawn.

Near the gated entrance, Lanier stops at the grave of Benjamin Hardman, a Spanish-American War veteran from Tallapoosa, Alabama.

“This guy had a brilliant military record,” Lanier said. “His commander said he was smart.

Hardman was wounded in the war when he was shot in the wrist.

It’s a short walk from a small gravestone for DT Sheilds.

“He’s the great-great, maybe the third grandfather of Mrs. Michelle Obama from her mother’s side of the family,” Lanier said. “He was a founding member of Trinity Baptist Church.”

Nelson Sturdivant, a man born into slavery in Dallas County, near Selma, Alabama, rests at the perimeter of the cemetery. The marker indicates that Sturdivant was born in 1853, but Lanier says his research suggests he was born in 1855.

“He married in 1874 and he and his wife had four children,” Lanier explained, standing next to the deteriorating gravestone. Unlike most granite headstones, the maker of Sturdivant is made from a composite of granite and concrete.

“We have kids from local schools who need to know this,” Lanier says of all the gravestones and the history he’s researched. “There is a lot of history in this cemetery, despite some overgrown areas there is so much history about mostly African Americans and that puts it in context.”

The Association earns interest on a state-mandated investment account, which is used for upkeep and maintenance. Lanier says that typically totals less than $ 10,000 each year, an amount that doesn’t even cover lawn maintenance.

Lanier hopes to be able to raise funds to take better care of the cemetery and create a small permanent museum open to the public. He says that as 501 (c) (13) every dollar goes towards the upkeep, operation and management of the cemetery. Lanier is not paid.

“We will need funding, funding for various purposes. Of course, we want to maintain the grounds. Of course, we want to eventually move forward with a memorial, with a museum. We want this museum to make this place even more alive, ”he said.

“There is a legacy that must be preserved here,” Lanier said, looking at the cemetery.

Read a copy of the 1889 act for Shadow Lawn below:

Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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Without upgrades, a woman will move her twin sister’s grave from Shadow Lawn cemetery

Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – On a hot Friday afternoon, Ja’Mesha McClellan searched for her sister’s gravestone at the Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens and Cemetery.

Holding old photos of the engraver, she guided her search by looking for gravestones and prominent shrubs nearby.

Eventually, she found him and fell to her knees to repel the weeds that had invaded the small stone carved with her sister’s name, Car’Nesha.

“I always talk about my sister because I wish I could have met her. I write books about her. I think about her every day. She was my imaginary friend growing up. I used to him. talk and everything, ”McClellan said. Over 23 years ago, her sister passed away at just one month old.

McClellan has visited Car’Nesha’s grave all his life. Lately, she has considered moving the grave to another cemetery.

“I hate to see the cemetery like this,” McClellan said. “The grass is tall. They have holes in the grass. You are afraid to step into something. Some tombstones are removed.”

McClellan thinks his sister and the others buried at Shadow Lawn deserve better.

“This should be a big problem in our community,” she said.

John Lanier, treasurer of the non-profit organization that manages the upkeep and care of the cemetery, said others have already paid to move the graves at Shadow Lawn.

Lanier says the association is struggling to maintain the 40 acres of land on less than ten thousand dollars a year. This money comes from a few donations and interest earned on a state-mandated cemetery investment account.

McClellan says she would consider donating money to upgrade Shadow Lawn, instead of moving the grave, if she was confident the donation would be spent on upgrades.

According to Lanier, 100 percent of donations go to administrative costs and maintenance. No staff member is paid for their cemetery maintenance work.

The association is considering submitting a request for financial aid to Birmingham City Council.

“Just know that I wished and prayed that they could do a lot better for you all,” McClellan whispered into his sister’s gravestone. “I really hate it. May you rest in peace.”

Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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The Missing Names of Cloncurry Lawn Cemetery – ABC (none)

Lisa Caldwell, director of business services at Cloncurry Council, said it was an emotional issue for many residents of the town in northwest Queensland.

“This is a very sensitive area and we have to make sure that everything we do there is respectful of it,” she said.

“It is an important place for people, and it is the last resting place for their family members.”

The board has consulted with the community on possible solutions to the problem and some ideas will be discussed at the regular board meeting next week.

Ms. Caldwell says the missing letters are caused by several factors.

“The high mineral content (of the borehole water) somehow destroys the plates, it settles in the letters and then they become unreadable and because they are flat and the water does not flow – it stays on the plate – and that causes problems, ”she said.

She says using rainwater is not a viable option in the drought-stricken city.

“Because there is such a large amount of lawn, keeping it green would require a lot of water and the community is concerned about water conservation here, so borehole water is our best option,” a- she declared.

The Council is also addressing a second problem with the cemetery. Most of the larger angular plates sink because they are placed on top of the graves, which are uncompacted earth.

Council has allocated $ 125,000 in its budget for this fiscal year to fund a project to address both issues.

Ms Caldwell inspected the cemeteries at Charters Towers, Longreach and Barcaldine for possible solutions.

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Toronto Cemetery Stays: Park Lawn Cemetery

urban landscape

A green awning provides a serene final resting place in the Kingsway area.

The fake cemeteries that decorate residential lawns this Halloween bear little resemblance to the real Toronto cemeteries, which, in fact, are full of life. As we did last year, during this week we will be visiting some of the most interesting definitive resting places in the city.

Nestled south of Bloor Street between Kingsway and Bloor West Village, Park Lawn Cemetery fits perfectly into the lush green parks bordering the Humber River. You could spend hours wandering its lands and enjoying the flora and fauna.


Entrance to Park Lawn Cemetery, circa 1941. City of Toronto Archives, fonds 1568, room 460.

The cemetery opened in 1892 as the Humbervale cemetery. Funding came from the sale of shares, with most of the shares held by local farmers. The cemetery was sold in 1912 to a buyer who promised to maintain the cemetery, but whose real intentions were to transform the property, including the parts occupied by the dead, into a housing estate.

Several former shareholders formed the Humbervale Cemetery Defense Association to, according to the Star, “Prevent any desecration of property”. An advocate begged the newspaper to publicize their battle, which had hardly impressed local politicians. “I beg you for the good of humanity to give this cause a place in your columns,” wrote the author of the anonymous letter, “because if this agreement is allowed to pass, with the sanction of one of the highest office in the land, then that means that no place, however sacred, is safe from the attack of the vandal and the land shark, and our much-vaunted civilization is a myth. “

The defenders of the cemetery were victorious. The property was sold in 1915 to the Park Lawn Cemetery Company, which gave the site its present name.


Park Lawn is almost completely covered with a canopy of trees, making it a lovely place to take a walk on a fall day. Instead of private crypts and extensive landscaping, it features attractive natural beauty that attracts humans and other large animal species.

Notable names

Many of Toronto’s sports figures rest here. Maple Leafs Owner Conn smythe Probably again cursed Harold Ballard, another resident of Park Lawn, for removing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from Maple Leaf Gardens to install more seating, shortly after Ballard bought the team. And there are probably no kind words exchanged between Smythe and Harvey “Busher” Jackson, a third of the Leafs’ Kid Line in the 1930s. For years, Smythe blocked Jackson’s election to the Hockey Hall of Fame because of Jackson’s alleged character flaws. When voters neglected Jackson’s alcoholism and glee to admit it in 1971, Smythe resigned his Hall of Fame presidency. The battles beyond Smythe’s grave are probably recounted by Lou marsh, the Star Sports writer whose name graces the trophy awarded each year to Canada’s best athlete.

Other notables include writer / broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, Politicians Stanley haidasz and John MacBeth, and musician Jeff healey.

Favorite places

Park Lawn is a prime location for All Saints’ Day sightings by the Polish and Eastern European community. The grounds were filled this week with those who laid flowers and lit candles at the graves of their loved ones.

We were charmed by a tombstone resembling a building. Other markers commemorate first dates and remind the living that “a man rarely succeeds at anything unless he has fun doing it.”

Additional material from Etobicoke From the furrow to the borough by Esther Hayes (Etobicoke: The Borough of Etobicoke, 1974), and the October 21, 1913 and June 24, 1914 editions of Toronto Star. Photos by Jamie Bradburn / Torontoist, unless otherwise noted.

Filed as Conn Smythe, Harold Ballard, The Kingsway, cemeteries, cityscape, etobicoke, harvey busher jackson, humbervale cemetery, lou marsh, park lawn cemetery, toronto cemetery stays, toronto maple leaves

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