The Decatur Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and it is believed to have been used even before Decatur's 1823 incorporation. In 1832, an act by the local legislature created “Commissioners for the Decatur Burial Ground.” Numerous Civil War veterans were buried in the Decatur Cemetery, mostly in the 8-acre region now referred to as, "The Old Cemetery". The Cemetery's "Well House" was built in 1881. The Decatur Cemetery has expanded to 58 acres and contains well over 20,000 graves. A special section exists for cremated burials; the cemetery also contains a pond stocked with fish. This pond is also home to swans, ducks and turtles, and is a stopping place for Canada geese on migration. The cemetery is bordered by a several acre forest, which borders the Glennwood Estates neighborhood.
Decatur Cemetery Walking Tour
The brochure below provides an overview of 40 of the most interesting sites at Decatur Cemetery. Among them are the resting places of three veterans of the American Revolution, a monument standing over a field where numerous orphans are buried, and the final resting place of Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, who abandoned his medical training for poetry and was described by Edgar Allen Poe as “one of the best and one of the worst poets in America.” By describing the 40 sites, the brochure provides a glimpse of Decatur’s history. The 58-acre cemetery dates to 1823 (it’s a full decade older than Atlanta) and provides an interesting overview of how the nation’s attitude about cemetery design (and death) has changed over the years.