Clay Cemetery

Documenting and preserving Clay Cemetery in Atlanta's Kirkwood community


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Grave, site and historical notes

The following are detailed notes about individual graves compiled by Earl Williamson in 2013.

Clay Cemetery Grave Notes

  • Shared gravestones are treated as a single unit. For example Florainda and Thomas Parker & Claudia and Earnest Wood have a single location number for the pairs.
  • Not all suspected unmarked graves are included, particularly those to the south of the two Clay rows and east, south, and west of the Marston plot.
  • Only those visible as obvious graves are included.
  • Not all rocks are considered to be memorial rocks. These typically extend outward from rows of traditional stones, occur in patterns, or in headstone/footstone pairs. Those with random placement or location not consistent with traditional stones or obvious memorial rocks were not included.
  • A total of 43 conventional gravestones are currently visible, representing 46 individuals.
  • All but one stone faces east.
  • Weathering on top of conventional gravestones (all marble) is Class III to IV, on vertical surfaces Class II to III.
  • More than 25 memorial rocks have been identified. These are not natural to the area (such as pink or rose granite), occur in rows extending out from gravestone rows, and generally have grave spacing or mark obvious graves.
  • More than 18 obvious unmarked burial mounds or depressions are present.
  • Local obituaries, death notices, State of Georgia death certificates, and Franklin Garret’s Necrology (1931) document 14 individuals buried here with no markers found at present.
  • Clay Cemetery now appears to contain at least 100 visible graves. It is estimated that the cemetery may contain between 200 and 240 graves, based on size and history.
  • Franklin Garrett, the late Historian Emeritus of Atlanta and Dekalb County, inventoried this cemetery in April, 1931. He identified additional graves which cannot currently be seen. At the time of his inventory there were no markers for Jesse Clay Sr. or Green(berry) Clay. Oral history given him at that time reported their graves here.

201. Unmarked mound at west fence line.

202. Unmarked mound at west fence line.

203. Memorial Rocks.

  • 40″ X 85″ X 11″ deep footprint.
  • Head rock is speckled pink white blonde granite with peaked shape; 5″ H, 4-6″ irregular base
  • Foot rock is speckled pink blonde granite, irregular pyramidal form, flat top; 2.5″ H, 5.5″ D, 5″ W

203A 203B

204. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 4″ X 91″ X 12″ deep footprint.
  • Sharply defined vertical surfaces and edges.

205. Memorial Rock.

  • Iron stained granite, cubical on edge
  • 2.5″ H, 5″ D, 4″ W.
  • 29″ X 71″ footprint with slight sinkage.

205

206. Memorial Rock.

  • Sedimentary very dark ferrous rock with some surface “rust” stain.
  • Upright rectangular form.
  • Some shearing off of layers.
  • 6 to 8″ H, 3 to 4″ D, 5.5 to 6″ W.
  • 26″ X 85″ X 26″ deep footprint.

206

 207. Memorial Rock.

  • Pink granite with many white speckles, similar to #208.
  • Dimensions 4.5″ H, 6″ D, 7.5″ W.
  • 41″ X 87″ footprint.

207

208. Memorial Rocks.

  • Two light pink and speckled white granite rocks, one upright, one flat.
  • Upright dimensions 6″ H, 2 to 7.5″ D, 7″ W.
  • 42″ X 85″ footprint.

208

209. Robert C. Clay
b. 9/27/1882     d. 6/16/1883

  • Rounded white marble tablet, heavily stained with Class III weathering.
  • 20″ H, 3.75″ D, 12″ W.
  • On tapered base 6″ H, 7.5″ D, 16″ W.
  • Incised Roman lettering with underscore beneath dates.
  • Three footstone fragments near head.

209

210. Clifford Clay
b. 2/5/1877       d. 5/29/1878

  • Rounded white marble tablet, heavily stained with Class II weathering.
  • 20.5″ H, 4″ D, 12″ W.
  • On tapered base 6″ H, 7″ D, 16.5″ W.
  • Incised Roman lettering with underscore beneath dates.

210

211. Arthur Clay
b. ?/?/ ?          d. 10/9/1883

  • White marble with black striations, shield below pulpit.
  • Heavily stained with Class II – III weathering.
  • Incised Roman lettering.
  • Indistinct symbology, possibly plant images.
  • 16″ H, 4″ D, 12″ W.
  • On steeply tapered base 3″ H, 7.5″ D, 14.5″ W.
  • Footstone 4.5″ H, 2″ D, 5″ W.

211

212. Floid B. Clay
b. 8/22/1888     d. 7/15/1890

  • White marble, heavily stained with lichen and soil, Class II -III weathering.
  • Tapered tablet form sloping to front
  • Lightly carved leaf (magnolia vs. maple?) surrounding incised Roman text.
  • 14.75″ H, 6″ D, 12″ W.
  • Barely tapered base ? H, 10″ D, 16″ W.
  • Footstone 6.75″ H

212A212B

213. John F. Hammond
b. 3/26/1854     d. 2/21/1919

“ Come Ye Blessed ”

  • Husband of Sallie Hammond, #214.
  • Middle name “Frank”
  • Pulpit tab in socket on base. Raised Roman lettering with gates opening motif.
  • White marble with Class II – III dark weathering and granular disintegration of less vertical surfaces, heavy lichen stain on upper portion.
  • 25″ H, 3.5″ D, 10″ W.
  • Die 3.75″ H, 8″ D, 13.5″ W.
  • Base 5.5″ H, 12.25″ D, 18″ W.
  • Footstone 3″ H, 2″ D, 6″ W.
  • Heavily sunken grave.

213B 213A

214. Sallie T. Hammond
b. 9/26/1873     d. 2/8/1925

“ Come Ye Blessed ”

  • Death certificate: Died of lobar pneumonia and secondary meningitis.
  • Wife of John Frank Hammond, #213.
  • Pulpit on die on base. Raised Roman lettering with gates opening motif, last name misspelled “Hammono”.
  • white marble with Class II – III weathering with granular disintegration on less vertical surfaces, moderate lichen staining.
  • 26.5″ H, 4″ D, 10.25″ W.
  • Die 3.5″ H, 8″ D, 13″ W.
  • Base 4″ H, 10″ D, 18″ W.
  • Footstone 8.5″ H, 3″ D, 5″ W.

214A214B

215. Gravestone, Unknown

  • Oldest dated marker in cemetery and the only marker that faces west.
  • Badly eroded with “RIP” visible upper row, middle row indecipherable letters, and “1860” lowest line.
  • Original shape appears to be crudely rounded tablet with crudely carved text.
  • Class VI weathering with significant flaking and erosive loss of material changing contour and form. Very darkly and diffusely stained.
  • Incised lettering with only “B” decipherable starting the top row.
  • 13″ H, 2.5″ D, 9″ W

215

216. Ruth Hammond
b. 5/15/1901     d. 8/16/1916

“Come Ye Blessed”

  • Pulpit tab in socket on base, all white marble.
  • Raised Roman lettering with gates opening motif.
  • Lived at 1326 Dekalb Avenue.
  • Funeral notice dated 8/19/1915, gravestone appears in error on year.
  • Class III weathering with granular disintegration and moderate to heavy lichen staining.
  • 24.25″ H, 4″ D, 9″ W.
  • Die 3.5″ H, 8″ D, 14″ W.
  • Base 6.25″ H, 12″ D, 17.75″ W.
  • Sunken grave.

216A216B

217. Memorial Rock.

  • Large trapezoidal, set on edge to create pyramidal form above ground.
  • Pink, white, and dark pink granite with quartz flecks.
  • 9″ H, 9″ D, 9.5″ W.
  • Very small 15″ X 36″ grave footprint, probable infant or small child.

217

218. Memorial Rock.

  • Dark pink-tan color.
  • Form approximates tablet, size similar to footstone dimensions.
  • 7″ H, 2.5″ D, 5.5″ W.
  • Small 21″ X 36″ grave footprint, probable child.

218

219. Memorial Rock.

  • Granite, upright form.
  • Red brown left side, pink white right side. black lichen splotches on top.
  • 5″ H, 5″ D, 7″ W.
  • Grave 42″ X 62″ footprint

219

220. Memorial Rock.

  • Irregular with approximately pyramidal form.
  • Granite, dark grey and dark pink.
  • 4″ H, 6.5″ D, 8″ W.
  • Grave 33″ X 76″ footprint.

220

221. Florina Clay
b. 11/24/1878   d. 3/16/1879

  • Rounded white marble tablet on base.
    Incised Roman text and incised underscore.
  • Heavily stained with Class III – IV weathering and granular flaking.
  • 20.5″ H, 4″ D, 11.5″ W.
  • Base 4.5″ H, 7″ D, 16.25″ W.
  • 28″ X 70″ X 5″ deep grave footprint

221

222. Nancy Clay
b. 4/8/1842     d. 5/7/1903

“Mother” On Pulpit; “wife of Cleveland Clay;” “Home sweet home, there’s no place like home ”

  • First wife of Cleveland Clay, #223.
    White marble pulpit on die on base with anchor, dove facing husband’s grave at right, ivy sprigs at top sides, and gate opening with “At Rest” banner.
  • Incised Roman lettering all inscriptions except reverse italicized verse at bottom.
  • Heavily stained with Class IV – V weathering with granular disintegration & flaking. Moderate to heavy lichen.
  • 31.75″ H, 6″ D, 14″ W.
  • Die 5.5″ H, 10″ D, 17.75″ W.
  • Base 7″ H, 14″ D, 24″ W.
  • 24″ X 80″ X 5″ deep grave footprint.
  • Found lying buried flat on back.

222

223. Cleveland Clay
b. 1/9/1836     d. 4/28/1909

“Father” On Pulpit; “Home sweet home, there’s no place like home”

  • Buried next to first wife, Nancy, # 222. Second wife, America.
  • Survived by three sons and three daughters.
  • A “farmer” in 1880 and 1900 Census.
  • Civil War veteran of Company D, 42nd Georgia Infantry Regiment, the “Dekalb Rangers”, served at Vicksburg and in the Carolinas (Georgia Civil War Soldier Index, Page 58), surrendering at High Point, N. C., on April 26, 1865.
  • White marble pulpit on die on base with anchor, dove facing wife’s grave at left, ivy sprigs at top sides, and gate opening motif.
  • Incised Roman lettering all inscriptions except reverse italicized verse at bottom. – Much more deeply carved than wife’s.
  • Class II weathering with light granular disintegration and patchy organic stains.
  • Tablet found lying buried flat.
  • 32″ H, 6.25″ D, 14″ W.
  • Die 5.5″ H, 10.25″ D, 18.25″ W.
  • Base 7.5″ H, 14.25″ D, 24″ W.
  • Founded Bush Arbor Church in 1873 with his wife, father, and three neighbors, meeting initially in his home on Clay Street. The church became Beech Springs Church, later Kirkwood Baptist Church, and is today’s Rainbow Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.
  • A “Messenger” to the Stone Mountain Association of Baptist Churches in 1886, 1889, and 1891.
  • He farmed in Kirkwood after the Civil War until age and indebtedness led him to sell his last six acres to his daughter Mattie Burke in 1894. Ill health then limited him to a small “truck farm” and he became increasingly dependent on what “my daughter did for me” until he applied for a Confederate veteran’s pension from the State of Georgia in June, 1904.

223A223B223C223D223E223F223G

224. Alex Clay
b. 10/9/1884     d. 7/23/1886

  • White marble modified pulpit on base.
  • Incised heart outline around Roman text. Unknown vine like plant carved above heart.
  • Granular disintegration with Class IV weathering and Light lichen.
  • 17.25″ H. 4″ D, 12″ W.
  • Base with 1′” taper and 5″ H, 10″ D, 15.25″ W.

224

225. Talmadge Clay
b. ?/?/ ?       d. 7/4/1899

  • White marble die on base, top tapered forward. Incised Roman lettering.
  • Granular disintegration with Class IV weathering and heavy stains.
  • Incised scrollwork at top and sides with arch and possible winged image at center.
  • 14″ H, 6″ D, 10″ W.
  • Base 2.5 ” H, 10.5 “D, 16” W.
  • Footstone 3.5″ H, 1.75″ D, 6″ W.

225

226. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 21″ X 33″ footprint.

227. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 19″ X 49″ footprint
  • Footstone 4″ H, 5.5″ D, 7.5″ W. Granite yellow-brown-tan.

228. Unmarked sunken grave.

229. Memorial Rocks.

  • 51″ X 89″ footprint.
  • Head Pink-yellow-white granite with mica and/or quartz flecks.
  • Irregular with approximate pyramidal form.
  • 4.5″ H, 4.5″ D, 6″ W.
  • Footstone Red, dark pink, white granite.
  • Same approximate pyramidal form, ? tilted over.
  • 3″ H, 5.5″ W, 3″ D.

229229B

230. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 51″ X 89″ footprint

231. Memorial Rocks.

  • Flat white marble headstone, horizontal rectangular form, crudely carved.
  • 8.5″ H, 3-3.5″ D, 15″ W.
  • Flat white marble footstone, horizontal rectangular form, crudely carved.
  • 5.5″ H, 2.25″ D, 8.25″ W.
  • Small 3-4″ conch shell at approximate midline shoulder height of deceased.
  • Clear plastic layered over grave itself and covered by (at most) 1/2″ soil.
  • Delineated on both sides by rows of granite rocks.
  • 34″ X 80″ grave footprint.

231

232. Susan Powell
b. ? / ? / ?      d. 9/25/1880 or 1890

  • White marble tablet, softly rounded, moderately stained.
  • Top row of lettering faintly visible and indecipherable.
  • Granular disintegration with Class V weathering.
  • Incised Roman text with incised underscore.
  • 15.25″ H, 2 ” D, 8″ W.

232

233. Margaret Hammond Dunn
b. 2/27/1854   d. 8/8/1921

“Gone but not forgotten” Right face; “Wife of Jesse L. Dunn” Front; “In after-time we’ll meet her.” Left face

  • Married to Jesse Dunn, #246.
  • Lived at 45 Clay Street at the time of her death from double lobar pneumonia.
  • White marble with mild black striations, very large, very ornate, multiple piece.
  • Total height estimated 7’ 8” with same construction as #234. Ten pieces headstone + four piece cradle.
  • Full white marble cradle 28.5″ X 72″ with broken and dismounted French vase at foot.
  • Base 15.5″ H with light taper, 27.5″ D, 27.5″ W.
  • Die approximately 8″ H with stepwise taper, 20″ D, 20″ W. “DUNN” on face.
  • Text Block 18.5″ H, 15″ D, 14.75″ W. Raised Roman text within recessed relief oval. Light scrolling and ivy leaves at block corners.
  • Roof 6.5″ H, 17.75″ D, 17.75″ W. Arched raised eave stepping back to main stone dimensions. Incised scrollwork with Crusader’s cross centered under arch of eave.
  • Pillars 16.5″ H, 5″ D, 5″ W. Square base tapering to rounded column 4.75″ diameter. Ivy leaf each face of base.
  • Cap of a flattened inverted bowl resting on the four pillars with an ornate French styled inverted cup peak on top with, total height 27″. Light incised scrolling along rim.
233B

Margaret Hammond Dunn Death Certificate

233A

AA. Little Arthur Banks
b. 9/16/1887     d. 6/29/1888

  • Very thin marble square tablet.
  • Re-installed after being found buried, located at point where found.
  • Documented in Garrett’s 1931 inventory of Clay Cemetery.
  • Re-discovered 6/2011.
  • Two holes in lower stone, for holding in cutting or carving jig.

233_AA

234. Gertie Dunn
b. 6/8/1879     d. 1/3/1899

“Dau of J.L. & M. Dunn” Face; “She was the sunshine of our home” Left Side; “Tho lost to sight, to memory dear” Right Side

  • Marble, very large, very ornate, multiple piece. Heavy grey black striations.
  • Ten pieces, no cradle. Approximate total height 8’.
  • Daughter of Jesse Dunn, #246, and Margaret Dunn, #233.
  • Footstone: 14.5″ H, 8″ W, 2″ D with capital letters “G.D.”, incised Roman.
  • Same construction as #233.
  • Mild to moderate lichen stain.
    Stage III weathering with moderate limb damage.
  • Base 13-15″ H with light taper, 28.5″ D, 28.5″ W.
  • Die 6.5-9.5″ H with stepwise taper, 19.75″ D, 19.75″ W. “DUNN” on front, raised Roman.
  • Text Block 18.75″ H, 14.5″ D, 14.5″ W. Raised Roman text within recessed relief oval. Light scrolling and ivy leaves at upper block corners.
  • Roof 6.5″ H, 17.75″ D, 17.75″ W. Arched raised eave stepping back to main stone dimensions. Incised scrollwork with Crusader’s cross centered under arch of eave.
  • Pillars 16.” H, 5″ D, 5″ W. Square base tapering to rounded column 4.75″ diameter. Ivy leaf and vine each face of pillar base.
  • One pillar missing, two broken.
  • Cap damaged, assumed to be same dimensions as cap of #233. Light incised scrolling along rim.

234

BB. Ruth Dunn
b. ?/?/ ?     d. ?/?/ ?

“Dau. of D.O. & Dora Dunn”

  • Rounded white marble tablet.
  • 14.5″ H at apex, 2″ D, 9.75″ W.
  • Displaced stone reinstalled at head of sunken unmarked grave in Dunn section.
  • Damage at edges with large chip out at top.
  • Coarse white marble with moderately heavy weathering.

234_BB

235. Ester Hammond
b. ?/?/ ?     d. ?/?/ ?

“In Memory of ”

  • Footstone: speckled granite with much quartz.
  • Granular disintegration with Class II weathering, near Class III at top.
  • 13″ H, 2″ D, 10″ W.
  • Rounded shadow tablet within edge.
  • Marble tablet, rounded, Incised Roman lettering with sentiment arched.

235

236. Matilda Hammond
b. ?/?/ ?     d. ?/?/ ?

“Come Ye Blessed ” Top; “Aged 37 yrs ” Bottom

  • White marble with grey streaks.
  • Pulpit style die on base with open bible and draped robe at top.
  • Raised Roman lettering.
  • Decoration of heaven’s gate opening with star centered above.
  • Base 8.75″ H, 13.75″ D, 20.25″ W with 1″ taper.
  • Die 3.5″ H, 10″ D, 16″ W.
  • Headstone 23.5″ H, 6″ D, 11.5″ W.
  • Footstone 10″ H, 2.25″ D, 6″ W.
  • Sunken grave 3′ X 5.5′.
  • Granular disintegration with Class III-IV at top to near class III- IV weathering, heavy lichen staining. 

236

237. Sadie Hammond
b. 7/6/1897     d. 12/25/1900

“Born;” “Died”

  • Rounded tablet, white marble.
  • Incised Roman lettering.
  • 16″ H, 2″ D, 10″ W.
  • Class III weathering with moderate granular disintegration, heavy lichen staining.
  • Lightly sunken grave.

237

238. Annie Hammond
b. 6/18/1830     d. 5/18/1908

“Born;” “Died;” “A beckoning hand from the other side of the river”

  • Last name misspelled “Hammon”.
  • White marble die on base with headstone vaulted roof, two rounded “dormers”.
  • Raised Roman lettering with raised border around all text.
  • Names and dates upright Roman lettering, “Born” and “Died” reverse slanted, sentiment italic.
  • Single rose and 1-2 leaves centered top. Leafy vine across bottom with two loops blossoms.
  • Class IV weathering with chips from tree fall, very heavy soil and lichen staining.
  • Granular flaking most edges and corners.
  • Found partially covered lying face up.
  • Base 8.5″ H, 14″ D, 24″ W.
  • Die 7.5″ H, 10″ D, 20″ W.
  • Headstone 19.5″ H, 5.75″ D, 12″ W.
  • Footstone upright rectangular 6″ H, 2″ D, 7″ W.

238A238B

239. Memorial Rock

  • Sedimentary granite like with water smoothed edges, river source?
  • Dark grey with black striations, patchy red-orange flecks and rust streaking.
  • Possibly fallen over on side.
  • 5″ H, 1.75″ to 3″ D, 14″ W.

239

240. Memorial Rock

  • Small tablet form, granite like.
  • Grey sedimentary with moderate black flecks, patchy red-orange flecks & patches.
  • Size and appearance of footstone.
  • 5″ H, 1.5″ D, 6″ W.
  • Sunken grave 2.5′ X 4′.

240

241. Tom Hammond
b. ?/?/1878     d. ?/?/1899

“Come Ye Blessed;” “Born – 1878;” “Aged 21 Yrs”

  • Marble pulpit style die on base with open bible and draped cloth at top.
    Raised Roman lettering.
  • Decoration of heaven’s gate opening with star centered above.
  • Granular disintegration with Class III weathering of text and decoration, Class IV weathering of top.
  • Moderate lichen staining.
  • Base 10″ H, 14.25″ D, 20.22″ W with taper.
  • Headstone 24″ H, 5.75″ D, 12″ W.

241

242. Lila Lee Marston
b. 9/24/1904     d. 5/29/1905

  • White marble with large black streaks in stone. Pulpit form with rearward scrolled top. Die on base.
  • Die 17″ H, 8.75″ D, 12″ W.
  • Base 2.5″ H, 12″ D, 15″ W.
  • Flat marble ledger 16.75″ X 35″.
  • Single large lily downward angled with bloom pointed downward to right.
  • Class IV weathering with granular flaking.
  • Lived at 66 South Delta Place in today’s Inman Park.
  • Father was J.H. Marston.
  • An obituary of the time reports internment at Hollywood Cemetery in west Atlanta. It is thought that geographic proximity led to her burial here.

242

243. Dottie Frank Marston
b. 10/12/1904     d. 7/27/1907

  • White marble with much black streaking in stone. Class V weathering with heavy granular flaking obscuring much text and details.
  • Pulpit form die on base.
  • Flat marble ledger 16″ X 36″, edge lightly tapered.
  • Single large rose upward angled with off center bloom pointed upward left.
  • Class V weathering with heavy granular flaking.
  • Die 17″ H, 8.75″ D, 12″ W.
  • Base 3.5″ H, 12″ D, 15.5″ W, tapered.

243

244. Memorial Rocks.

  • Grave 25″ X 80″.
  • Large stone Pale pink granite with much ? quartz.
  • Irregular with vaguely cuboidal shape.
  • Sedimentary cracks.
  • 7.5″ H. 5″ D, 7″ W.
  • Small Stone Dark pink granite with white quartz flecks.
  • Sharper, more distinct edges.
  •  Root bound, possibly base for large stone.
  • Footstone Light pink granite with many quartz flecks
    Pushed onto side by tree.
  • Almost identical to headstone material.
  • 4″ H, 5″ W, 6″ D.

244A244B

245. Little Powell Wesley Clay
b. 7/11/1891     d. 6/26/1892

  • Marble rounded tablet stone with initialed footstone, “P.W.C”.
  • Incised Roman lettering with “born” and “died” in italics.
  • Headstone 18″ H, 2″ D, 10″ W.
  • Footstone 12″ H, 2.5″ D, 6″ W.
  • Vault of very tightly placed fist sized irregular stones, no mortar.
  • No vault cover.
  • Possibly named after CSA Lt. General A.P. “Little Powell” Hill.
  • Class II weathering with granular flaking at top.

245A245B245C

246. Jesse L. Dunn
b. ?/?/1851     d. 12/20/1901

“Aged 60 years;” The paths of glory lead but to the grave”

  • Was a “huckster” in 1880 Census.
  • Was a “stationary engineer” in 1900 Census.
    Married to Margaret Hammond Dunn, #233.
  • Father of Gertie Dunn, # 234.
  • Marble with incised Roman lettering except for italicized sentiment at bottom.
  • Heavy lichen staining with Class III to IV weathering.
  • Footstone: 8.5″ H, 2″ D, 8.5″ W.

246

247. John Wesley Dunn
b. 8/8/1883     d. 2/11/1912

“My Son” (top banner); “Gone but not forgotten”

  • Die on base with rounded and sloped top.
  • Marble with heavy black striations, large.
    Headstone: 32″ H, 14″ D, 24″ W.
  • Incised Roman lettering with back slanted italic sentiment at bottom.
  • Carved fern design above text.
    Class II weathering with granular disintegration towards top.
  • Footstone: 6″ H, 2″ D, 7.5″ W. Fragmented decorative edging.
  • Reportedly served in the Spanish American War. Company E, Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb Counties (Capt. Amos Baker). Also in Company D, 3rd Georgia Infantry, U.S.V.
  • A “tinner”, or tinsmith, in 1900 Census.
  • Married Lillie Jewell Porter 3/3/1903. Three sons.
  • Lived in Edgewood, Atlanta, and finally Kirkwood.
  • A “paper factory laborer” in 1910 Census.

247A247B247C

248. Maggie Belle Felton
b. 9/5/1887     d. 1/24/1915

“Wife of J.A. Felton;” “Beneath this stone lie placed in trust. Not the immortal, but the just of one on earth to me most dear. Who learned in youth her God to fear.”

  • Marble die, base, and cap pedestal headstone with cross at top.
  • Marble bedstead with broken planter at foot, scroll form of sides.
  • Pedestal – drape with tassels over top, bundled sheave under arch.
  • Raised Roman lettering except for incised reverse italic verse.
  • Raised lettering Class I weathering, incised lettering Class III weathering.
  • Some lichen stains and limited granular disintegration.
  • Total height 95″
  • Base 1   13″ H, 24″ D, 24″ W. Black striations.
  • Base 2   7″ H, 19″ D, 19″ W. “Felton”
  • Base 3   9″ H, 15.5″ D, 15.5″ W. Verse
  • Pedestal 66″ H, 11.5″ D, 11.5″ W. Biographical
  • Bedstead footprint 22″ Wide X 80″ Long, with 2″ wide rails.

248A248B248C248D248E

249. Carl Thomas Orr
b. 2/24/1906     d. 4/11/1928

“Husband”

  • Died of “Lobar Pneumonia” due to “Chronic tonsilitis with weak heart muscle”.
  • Son of J.T. Orr, #257.
  • Lived at 24 Clifton Street and worked as a “Mechanic” at the time of his death.
  • Marble die, base, and cap with partially rounded top.
  • Raised Roman lettering.
  • Raised scrollwork arched across top front.
  • Class II weathering with lichen stains.
  • Granular disintegration at top surface and top edge.
  • Loose brick cradle like surround.
  • Footstone: “Our Darling”
  • White marble.
  • Sentiment relief etched on top of stone.
  • 6″ to 5″ high tapering to front, 8″ D, 20″ W.

249B249C249A

250. Ruth Cox
b. 4/21/1905     d. 4/26/1923

  • Box cast cement stone with finger drawn freestyle lettering.
  • Daughter of J.T. Orr, #257, and Ethel Dunn. Brother Thomas Orr.
  • Married to Walter L. Cox.
  • Lived at 40 Clifton Street at the time of her death from endocarditis and secondary sepsis.
  • Footstone: Marble piece 10″ H, 5″ W, 2″ D.
250B

Ruth Opalia Cox Death Certificate

250A

251. Memorial Rock.

  • Squared tablet form crudely carved with deep vertical cutting marks.
  • Granite with heavy black striations almost making it almost all black.
  • 10″ H, 1.25 – 1.75″ D, 6″ W.

251

252. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 70″ High, 40″ Wide, 3″ Deep.

253. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 70″ High, 40″ Wide, 4″ Deep.

254. Dan Dunn
b. 3/13/1873     d. 12/17/1935

  • Box cast cement raised top style with finger drawn freestyle lettering.
  • 4″ H, 8″ D, 25″ W.
  • A “house painter” living in Atlanta-Dekalb in 1910 Census.
  • Married to Dora. Had brown eyes and red hair per draft card.
  • Worked for Georgia Railroad and Power Company in 1918.
  • A “streetcar motorman” living in Kirkwood in 1920 Census.
  • A “farmer” living in Smyrna in 1930 Census and worked “General Jobs” at the time of his death.

254A

Dan Dunn Draft Card

Dan Dunn Draft Card

255. Claudia Elise Wood & Son, Earnest Howard Wood
b. 8/8/1891         d. 1/8/1915            

“Mother;” (On Reverse) “A ray of sunshine she ever was / Though saddened with worldly cares / She’s gone to the mighty maker above / Who shares al our toils and cares.’

b. 1/1/1915                d. 1/1/1915

“Son;” “Born and Died 1/1/1915;” (On Reverse) “A flower plucked from our midst / As it were by God’s omnipotent hand / To grace the mighty throne on high / Of the new Jerusalem.” 

  • Shared grave of mother and son who died from childbirth.
  • May be Margaret Dunn’s daughter “Elisa” in 1910 Census.
  • Married to G.E. Wood. Survived by him and one child.
  • Double tablet with bi-convex rounding, bisected by a cross fleury.
  • Sides mirror each other with large ferns at bottom and Easter lilies at top.
  • Thin marble with incised lettering, front text Roman, rear verse italic.
  • Dismounted from marble base of horizontal tree trunk form.
  • Headstone 21″ H, 2″ D, 31″ W.
  • Base 9″ H, 9″ D, 43″ W.
  • Class I to II weathering with heavy lichen staining.

255A255B255C

256. Earnest Howard Orr
b. 9/9/1917     d. 12/15/1917

  • Marble die without known base.
    Incised Roman lettering with first and second name arched across upper row.
    7″ H, 2″ D, 7″ W.
  • Class III weathering with granular flaking.

256

257. J.T. Orr
b. 4/22/1874     d. 1/4/ 1936

  • A “hosiery mill foreman” in 1910 Census.
  • Married to Ethel.
  • Lived at 32 Clay Street in 1918, at 40 Clifton Street in 1926, and 24 Clifton Street at the time of his death.
  • Had grey hair and brown eyes per draft records.
  • Father of Ruth Orr Cox, # 250.
  • A “cotton mill book keeper” in 1920 Census.
  • A “Clerk” with Atlanta Milling Co. in 1926 Atlanta Directory.
  • A “railroad shipping clerk” in 1930 Census.
  • A “Mill Foreman” at the time of his death.
  • Small marble rounded tablet headstone imbedded in concrete base cast along with flat concrete ledger.
  • Raised Roman lettering.
  • Name also finger written on concrete vault cover, freestyle and uneven.
  • Footprint 34.5″ X 96″
  • Class II weathering with heavy lichen staining. Cement pitted.

257257B

J.T. Orr Draft Card

J.T. Orr Draft Card

258. Agnes May Orr
b. 2/21/1912     d. 3/18/1912

  • Rounded marble tablet headstone.
  • 8″ H, 1.75″ D, 6.5″ W.
  • Incised Roman lettering with arched first line following stone shape.
  • Class IV weathering with granular flaking, chipped edges.

258

259. CLAY

  • Hal Amicus and Maggie West Clay were reportedly exhumed from in front of the “CLAY” gravestone between 1970-1972 and moved to Greenwood Cemetery. He was in a metal coffin, hers had been wood and only hardware and a few bone fragments remained (Source: Clay family oral history – Jean Delores Clay).

259A259B

259-1. Willie M. Smith
b. 2/1/1910       d. 7/10/1983

  • Stone is cast cement temporary type funeral home marker from Stocks Funeral Home, Kirkwood, Atlanta. Embossed lettering. It was found in the empty “CLAY” grave.
  • Modern type face, embossed into cement.
  • 4″ H, 7.5″ D, 15.5″ W.

259_1

259-2. John Allen Clay
b. 5/7/1881       d. 7/5/1937

  • Footstone to large “Clay” family headstone. Found slid into open “Clay” grave.
  • Same marble material and carved floral details framing text.
  • 2″ H, 12″ D, 24″ W.
  • Incised Roman lettering.
  • Light granular disintegration with Class II weathering.
  • Undamaged jar as bud vase found beneath front edge of stone when leveled.

259_2

260. Nannie Lou Clay (Howard)
b. 1/19/1896     d. 9/23/1921

“Wife of Ernest Howard;” “She Believed and Sleeps In Jesus”

  • Died from “Acute Cardiac Dilatation” related to “Ether Anesthetic”.
  • Daughter of J.W. Clay, #261.
  • Marble block with some edges rounded. 12″ H, 12″ D, 24″ W.
  • Raised modern lettering on top.
  • Incised Roman lettering sentiment on front.
  • Light granular disintegration with Class I to II weathering.
  • Flat cement base found when replaced to original location and re-leveled.

260A260B260C

261. John W. Clay
b. 5/4/1861     d. 9/20/1928

“Father”

  • A “railroad boss” in 1900 Census.
  • Worked for the “electric RR” in 1910 Census.
  • Lived at 364 Mason Avenue, possibly in Edgewood.
  • Middle name “Warren”
  • Died of bronchial pneumonia and uremia (renal failure).
  • Wife Jennie Hammond Clay, #262.
  • Daughter Nannie Lou Clay Howard, #260.
  • Incised Roman lettering on top (‘Father”) and raised Roman lettering on face.
  • Decorated with sprigs of ivy and of oak coming from rolled scroll.
  • Masonic emblem with “G” in center.
  • Marble die on base and cap.
  • Die: 43.5″ H, 8″ D, 14″ W.
  • Base: 7.5″ H, 12″ D, 18″ W.
  • Cap: 3″ H, 16″ D, 22″ W.
  • Granular disintegration on horizontal surfaces with Class II weathering.
  • Footstone: “Mr. Jno W. CLAY”
  • Small tablet 6″ H, 2″ d, 7.75″ W.

261A261B

John W. Clay Death Certificate

John W. Clay Death Certificate

262. Jennie Hammond Clay
b. 1/10/1862     d. 4/20/1920

“Mother;” She hath done what she could and is waiting in glory for you”

  • Death certificate “Mattie Jeannette Clay”.
  • Death certificate: Lived at 20 Bixby Street at the time of her death from myocarditis, chronic asthma, and bronchitis.
  • Wife of John W. Clay, #261.
  • Incised Roman lettering on top (‘Father”) and raised Roman lettering on face.
    Decorated with sprigs of ivy and of oak coming from rolled scroll.
  • Marble die on base and cap.
  • Die: 30″ H, 8″ D, 13.5″ W.
  • Base: 7″ H, 11.5″ D, 18″ W.
  • Cap: 9″ H, 16.5″ D, 22″ W.
  • Granular disintegration on horizontal surfaces with Class II to III weathering.
  • Footstone: “Mrs. Jno. W. CLAY”
  •  Small tablet 7″ H, 2″ D, 8″ W.
  • Found buried and broken off from buried portion, re-installed adjacent to stub.
Mattie Jeannette Clay Death Certificate

Mattie Jeannette Clay Death Certificate

262B262C262D262E

263. Marked Child’s Grave.
b. ? / ? / ?     d. ? / ? / ?

  • Cement ledger, 42″ Long, 22″ Wide, 1″ High.
  • Small cement headstone, no inscription.
  • Immediately adjacent to the Parker’s grave, assumed to be their child.

263

264. Thomas and Florainda Parker
Wife   b. 5/2/1849     d. 10/9/1909
Husband   b. 4/30/1845     d. 3/27/1921

“Their toils are past, their work is done. They fought the fight-the victory won”

  • Shared vault with footstones reversed from headstone name placement.
  • Footstones initialed “T.C.P.” and “F.P.” and are reversed from headstone.
  • Vault cover is four triangular pieces of concrete forming a shallowly peaked roof 99.5″ Long, 86.5″ Wide, 4″ High.
  • He is a “blacksmith” in the 1880 Census.
  • Marble peaked die (27.5″ H, 8″ D, 30″ W) on base (13″ H, 12″ D, 34″ W).
  • Ivy leaves over mother’s side, oak leaves over father’s side. Space between individual names and dates has Grecian vase with jonquils in it and maple leaves around vase base.
  • Base has “Mother” and “Father” in raised Roman lettering, as are names and dates. Sentiment is in incised italics.
  • Granular disintegration horizontally with Class II weathering.
  • A crudely made cement sidewalk leads from the cemetery’s centerline to the Parker graves.

264A264B264C264E264F

 265. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • Exhumed.
  • Cement headstone socket remains nearby.

 266. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • Exhumed.
  • Cement headstone socket remains nearby.

 267. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 81″ High, 42″ Wide, 4-6″ Deep.

268. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 86″ High, 42″ Wide.

269. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 84″ High, 42″ Wide, 4-6″ Deep.

270. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 85″ High, 38″ Wide.

 271. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 84″ High, 38″ Wide.

272. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 83″ High, 51″ Wide.
  • Paired with 273.

273. Unmarked sunken grave.

  • 78″ High, 51″ Wide.
  • Paired with 272.

Clay Surround

  • Surround dimensions east 25′, north 20′ 4″, west 25.5′, south 20′ 2″.
  • Made of cast cement.
  • Each corner has pedestal with raised Roman “C” on horizontal surface.
  • Contains large “Clay” family stone and markers for John Allen Clay, Nannie Lou Clay, Willie M. Smith, John W. Clay, and Jennie Hammond Clay.

274. S.E. Corner.

  • Faces east.

274SE

275. N.E. Corner.

  • Faces east.

275NE

276. N.W. Corner.

  • Faces east.

276NW

277. S.W. Corner.

  • Faces west, only one not facing east.

277SW

Marston Surround

  • Surround dimensions east 20′ 5″, north 13′ 1″, west 20′ 1″, south 13′ 5″.
  • Each corner has pedestal with raised Roman “M” on horizontal surface.
  • East and west sides have unmarked marble pedestal at approximate midpoint.
  • Only two graves, Lila Lee and Ruthie Frank Marston (both young children), are in the northern portion of the plot. Possible gravestone fragments are entrapped within a tree trunk within the plot.
  • Informal rock fragments outline sides of plot containing graves.
  • Several possible gravestone fragments at base of large tree in plot’s SE corner.

278. S.E. Corner.

  • Faces south, only one that doesn’t face east.

278 

279. N.E. Corner.

  • Faces east.

279

280. N.W. Corner.

  • Faces east.

280

281. S.W. Corner.

  • Faces east.

281

Documented Burials Without Gravestones

Based on local newspaper obituaries and death notices, State of Georgia death certificates, and Franklin Garret’s Necrology (1931) which give the place of burial as “Clay Cemetery” or “Clay Burial Grounds” in Kirkwood.

James C. Burke
1/4/1914

  • Clay Street residence
  • Funeral at Church of Immaculate Conception

Anna Clay
2/16/1910

  • Aged 53 years.
  • Married to John Clay, resided at 158 Wylie Street.
  • Also survived by three sisters.

Florid B. Clay
8/22/1888 – 7/15/1890

Green B. Clay
1820 – 5/21/1886

Ida Clay
2/17/1915

  • Age 33

Infant Clay
3/19/1912

  • Parents Mr. & Mrs. G.F. Clay

Jesse Clay, Sr.
1792 – 2/1/1871

Maggie West Clay
4/1/1920

  • Age 31 at the time of her death from pulmonary tuberculosis.
  • For unknown reasons Maggie Clay had two death certificates.
  • Lived on Cleveland, married to H.A. Clay.
Maggie West Clay Death Certificate

Maggie West Clay Death Certificate

MaggieWest2

Maggie West Clay Death Certificate

Margaret E. Clay
10/17/1848 – 2/13/1924

  • Lived in Haralson County at the time of her death from mitral insufficiency.
MargaretEClay

Margaret E. Clay Death Certificate

Susannah M. Clay
6/1/1923

  • Widow of Jesse W. Clay Jr. (Cleveland Clay’s brother) who died serving at the battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War.
  • Lived in nearby Panthersville

W.D. Clay
4/3/1922

  • Age 17

Will D. Clay
4/20/1914

  • Age 32
  • 374 State Street.
  • Died in private sanitarium some time after injuries received in a 2-3 story fall working at Butler Street, near Grady Hospital.
  • Survived by his wife, five children, and a sister

William E. Pylant
4/2/1883 – 9/8/1912

Eliza Webb
12/23/1860 – 1/7/1924

  • Died at Grady Hospital of 2nd and 3rd degree burns after her dress caught fire from a match dropped on the floor.
  • A housewife.
Eliza Webb Death Certificate

Eliza Webb Death Certificate

 REFERENCES

  1. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (1954)
    Franklin Miller Garrett
    University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia
  2. Atlanta City Directories (1887, 1888, 1889, 1918, 1923, 1926)
    Various Publishers
    Dekalb History Center, Dekalb County, Georgia
  3. Atlanta City Survey (1928)
    City of Atlanta Mapping Division
    Georgia State University Library, Atlanta, Georgia
  4. Atlanta Journal Constitution
    (1905, 1909, 1910, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1921, 1923)
    Death Notices & Obituaries
    Online Archives
  5. Clay Cemetery Master Document
    (2013 – Unpublished)
    Clay Cemetery Committee, Kirkwood Neighbors Organization, Atlanta, Georgia
  6. Clay Cemetery Necrology (4/28/1931)
    Franklin Miller Garrett
    Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Georgia
  7. State of Georgia Death Certificates (Various)
    State of Georgia Department of Public Health Vital Records
    Georgia Archives, University of Georgia: Virtual Vault Website
  8. Dekalb County Survey (1860)
    Walter P. McCurdy, J.D.
    Dekalb History Center, Dekalb County, Georgia
  9. Deposition of Cleveland Clay (12/1/1896)
    Abstract of Property of J.H. Pearce
    Cleveland Clay (Son of Jesse Clay)
    Dekalb County, Georgia: Courthouse Records
  10. Georgia Civil War Soldier Index
    Georgia Archives, University of Georgia: Virtual Vault Website
    http://cdm.georgiaarchives.org:2011/cdm/
  11. Green Clay Estate Plat & Subdivision Map (1891)
    Dekalb County, Georgia: Courthouse Records
  12. History of the 42nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, Confederate States Army, Infantry (1900)
    William Lowndes Calhoun, Sisson Print
    Digital Copy, University of California Library
    http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b61817;view=1up;seq=5
  13. Jesse Clay Estate Plat & Subdivision Map (1871)
    Dekalb County, Georgia: Courthouse Records
  14. Jesse Clay Sr. Geneology
    2008 (Unpublished)
    Will Johnson
  15. Kirkwood Clay Family Geneology
    (2013 – Unpublished)
    Clay Cemetery Committee, Kirkwood Neighbors Organization, Atlanta, Georgia
  16. Kirkwood City Maps (1915)
    City of Kirkwood
    Private Collection
  17. Preservation Assessment of the Clay Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia (2011)
    Chicora Research Contribution 536
    Chicora Foundation, Columbia, South Carolina
  18. Siege of Atlanta, Ga. (8/26/1864)
    Engineer Bureau, War Department, Capt. C.W. Poe
    Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  19. South Kirkwood Property Map (1892)
    Atlanta Suburban Land Company
    Dekalb County, Georgia: Courthouse Records
  20. United States Census
    (1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)
    United States Bureau of Census
    Online Archives
  21. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Atlanta & Environs (1930)
    United States Coast and Geodetic Survey and City of Atlanta Mapping Division
    Emory University: MARBL Historic Map Collection
  22. The Upland South Folk Cemetery Complex: Some Suggestions of Origin
    Jeane, D. Gregory
  23. Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture (1989)
    Ed. Richard E. Meyer. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press
  24. White Flight in the Kirkwood Neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia (2002)
    Chad Hoge
    Unpublished Paper, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia


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Clay Cemetery, the Clay Family and Kirkwood Baptist Church

Though not a church cemetery as such, Clay Cemetery and the Clay Family are intimately associated historically and geographically with what became the Kirkwood Baptist Church. Originally “Bush Arbor” or “Beech Springs” church, it evolved informally from services first held in a bush arbor near a spring, possibly in today’s Gilliam Park.

Beech Springs Church was formally founded in 1873 on Clay Street by Cleveland & Nancy Clay, Jesse Clay Sr., Newt Williams, Peter Hughes, and D.V. Stephens. Services were first held in Cleveland and Nancy Clay’s home, then in a vacant house, and then a small church built in 1873. These were all on Clay Street in Kirkwood, one street east of Clay Cemetery.

Official Register

Official Register

The third building was erected in 1886 after a donation of land and $500 by J.B. Wade. It was located at the S.E. quadrant of today’s Hosea Williams Drive and Clay Street on a 150′ by 75′ parcel with the long side facing Hosea Williams Drive.

Jesse Clay remained active in the church until his death. Cleveland Clay was active in Kirkwood Baptist Church until at least 1891 and served as a “Messenger” to the Stone Mountain Association of Baptist Churches in 1886, 1889, and 1891.

The church had 34 members in 1888 and met two Sundays monthly. By 1893 there were 55 members and a 57 member Sunday school and within a year the Sunday school had grown to 75 participants. The church was renamed “Kirkwood Baptist Church” in 1894 and the building was subsequently moved to Howard Street N.E. and Hardee (today’s Delano Drive) in 1895. Growth continued and in 1897 the congregation numbered 88 and met every Sunday.

Internal dissension became pronounced from 1898-1900 and the church subsequently dissolved, becoming an arm of the First Baptist Church until Kirkwood Baptist Church was reconstituted in 1902, when it absorbed Murray Hill Church and one to two smaller congregations. The church’s seating capacity in reached 275 by 1913.

 

Clay Family Home Church  Kirkwood Baptist Church, 1913 Howard Street N.E. & Hardee (Delano)

Clay Family Home Church
Kirkwood Baptist Church, 1913
Howard Street N.E. & Hardee (Delano)

The congregation’s fourth building was today’s Pentecostal Church of God at 110 Howard Street N.E. Their fifth and final Kirkwood building became today’s Israel Baptist Church at 2071 Hosea Williams Drive. After Kirkwood Baptist Church’s congregation joined the white flight from Kirkwood in 1966 it was renamed Rainbow Baptist Church in 1969 to reflect the new location on Rainbow Drive in adjacent Decatur, Georgia.

Kirkwood Baptist Church

Kirkwood Baptist Church

 

Kirkwood Baptist Church

Kirkwood Baptist Church

(Research and writing by Earl Williamson, 2013.)


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History of Clay Cemetery

As with many Southern farms and plantations the Clays had their own burial ground, which became known as the “Clay Cemetery” or “Clay Burial Ground”, now Kirkwood’s oldest intact historical site. Four generations of Kirkwood’s Clay family remain at rest here in the Clay Cemetery. Graves include those of Jesse Clay and his sons Greenberry (or Green Berry) and Cleveland (a Civil War veteran) along with their wives, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Jesse Clay Jr.’s wife Susannah was buried here 60 years after he fell during the Battle of Vicksburg, where he remains in a marked soldier’s grave. Will D. Clay was buried here in 1914 after he fell two stories while working on a building on Butler Street and his son W.D. followed him to rest in the cemetery in 1922. Kirkwood and area families represented in the Clay Cemetery include the Clays, Feltons, Dunns, Hammonds, Marstons, Orrs, and Parkers.

The Clay Cemetery contains 42 traditional gravestones, at least 21 unconventionally marked graves, and well over 24 unmarked graves. Conventional gravestones are marble, while alternative materials include box cast concrete, unusually colored granite stones, and hand laid mortar less markers including brick. Of the more than 86 graves at least 18 are children, a reflection of the many fatal childhood diseases which are now protected against by immunizations. Gravestone dates range from 1860 to 1936.

The cemetery evolved from a family burial ground in the mid 1800’s to become a white upper middle class neighborhood cemetery in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It later became a burial ground for economically stressed and increasingly fragmented white families during the collapse of the Southern economy in the 1920’sand the Great Depression that followed in the 1930’s. These changes are represented by a shift in markers from plain tablet stones to expensive Victorian and Edwardian gravestones to the homemade cement gravestones and rock markers of very low income burial practices. The cemetery’s history accurately illustrates the economic and social trajectory of Kirkwood and Atlanta in DeKalb during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Evidence suggests that Clay Cemetery became an integrated burial ground well before the area’s shift in racial demographics during the 1960’s. Oral history from the Clay family reports African American burials in the back of the cemetery beginning in the 1950‘s. This would make this cemetery a very rare and possibly unique example of integrated burials occurring much earlier than elsewhere in the South (court ordered in the early 1970’s). Three unconventionally marked graves are consistent with West African burial practices. Many others are marked similarly to older rural black burials. One cast cement marker is a type commonly used as temporary marker by African American funeral homes and originated from a nearby African American funeral provider. Oral histories from neighbors and the Clay family report activity in the cemetery into the 1970’s, well after Clay family use of the cemetery had ended and after Kirkwood had become predominantly African American. Interestingly, the Clay Cemetery may have been integrated long before Kirkwood’s schools were.

Clay Cemetery is intimately tied to Kirkwood’s entire history from the times of it’s very first settlers onward. It is 300 feet from “Wade’s Place Hollow” (possibly Gilliam Park), the location of a spring serving first Indians, then pioneers, then Clay family settlers. The first Clay buried here had been at rest for four years when a Union artillery battery of Walker’s Corps began firing from next to the cemetery during the Battle of Atlanta, which began less than 1/2 mile away and spread throughout the area. More than a half dozen State of Georgia historical markers in the immediate area document that battle. Clay Cemetery is 400 feet from the original Atlanta to Decatur trolley line right of way (c.1870). It is 1/4 mile from the early 20th Century industrial architecture of the N.P. Pratt Laboratory (c.1914), the Pullman Railcar Company yard (c.1922), and is surrounded by Kirkwood’s diverse residential architecture and greenspaces.

The Clay Cemetery is the only historical site remaining intact in Kirkwood that represents area settlers and the Civil War period and is one of the very few such sites remaining relatively untouched in Atlanta east of Boulevard Drive. The cemetery clearly demonstrates the evolution of Kirkwood from the earliest settlers clearing and farming the land, to their land rich and upper middle class children, followed by comfortably middle class children and grandchildren, to the generation of grandchildren and great grandchildren devastated and set adrift by the Great Depression. Strangers came to rest here in eternity as Clay Cemetery’s post Depression role became one of burial ground for the unmarked and undocumented poor of both races culminating with integrated burials that preceded others in the South by roughly 20+ years.

(Research and writing by Earl Williamson, 2013.)


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History of the land belonging to the Clay family

Jesse Clay Sr. (1786-1871) emigrated from Monticello, Jasper County, Georgia in 1826 with his wife, three sons, and daughter to settle in DeKalb County. He purchased Land Lots 206 and 207 of the 15th District, DeKalb County, from Taylor & Watts of Jasper County that year and made the final payment by traveling to South Carolina and back by horseback. He and his family initially lived on the property in a tent and drew water from a spring at Wade’s Place Hollow (thought to be today’s Gilliam Park). They cleared the native hardwood forest and farmed the land until Jesse’s death in 1871.

The approximately 250 acres originated from Cherokee Indian tribal lands distributed to Henry Britton of Clarke County on 11/4/1823 following the 1821 Land Lottery. The property passed to Taylor & Watts of Jasper County, Georgia and then to Jesse Clay Sr. His son Greenberry (1820-1886) owned a large parcel adjoining to the southeast (including today’s Kirkwood Urban Forest Park) which was operated as a dairy farm.

It is thought that Jesse Clay Sr. financed purchase of the land through the sale of 10 slaves (six male and four female) which show in the 1820 Federal Census of his family, no slave ownership being recorded for him in the subsequent 1830 Federal Census.

Around the time of Jesse Sr.’s death in 1871 his holdings were subdivided into parcels averaging 10-11 acres each. Son Cleveland (1836-1909), a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, inherited much of the land and the family was active in many land transactions throughout the 1800’s. Another son, Joseph Clay (1817- ?), purchased Lot 9 of 10 acres for $220.00 at Jesse Clay’s estate sale, a parcel which included Clay Cemetery.

The Clay lands subsequently became the western third of the incorporated City of Kirkwood (1892-1926) and were bordered to the south by today’s Memorial Drive and to the north by the curve of Gilliam Park. The eastern two thirds of Kirkwood evolved from lands owned by the Kirkpatrick and Dunwoody families, a combination of which produced the name “Kirkwood”.

The majority of Clay land was further subdivided into residential parcels during sales to the Atlanta Suburban Land Company in 1892 with the family retaining the Clay home at Boulevard Dekalb (now Hosea Williams Drive) between Clay and Wyman Streets at approximately the S.W. corner of today’s Hosea Williams and Clifton, Clay Cemetery, and other parcels including Cleveland Clay’s home on Clay Street.

Two title searches and a survey have failed to identify a title or deed to Clay Cemetery. It appears to exist “by exclusion”, meaning it has retained parcel identity through repeated exclusion from neighboring parcels and deeds as well as being identified across time on multiple subdivision plats as separate from other parcels.

(Research and writing by Earl Williamson, 2013.)

 


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Clay Cemetery Conventional Gravestones

Gravestones are doorways opening to the past and those that lived there. Through them we learn who was before us, when they came and when they crossed into the next life, the symbols that had particular significance to them, and often what they and their people believed about life and death. The cold stones warm as they tell about mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, the beloved and missed of a time gone by and the world they lived in along with their strong belief in a place they were going to when they departed.

Clay Cemetery’s conventional gravestones are almost all marble, with only one or two reflecting the historically later use of granite. Alternative materials include two homemade gravestones of box cast concrete with the names written by fingertip while still wet and another more formally cast in cement with embossed lettering and decoration (commonly used as temporary markers by African American funeral homes, this one from a nearby Stocks Funeral Home). Oral history from the 1930’s reports wooden markers for Jesse and Green Clay. The smallest gravestones are single box pieces 6-8 inches high while the two largest are near 8 feet tall and composed of as many as 12 parts. Many styles of gravestones are represented including simple tablets, obelisks, pulpit markers, bedsteads, and complex die, base, and cap grave markers.

Symbols and images on Clay Cemetery gravestones reflect a great deal of how the Clay Family and other Kirkwood residents felt about religion, the afterlife, and the departed. Their documented Baptist faith is repeatedly illustrated by open bibles, biblical robes, gates opening to heaven, and crosses. The great variety of carved plant life illustrates both the deep feelings held about the deceased and faith based plant symbology. Clay Cemetery’s garden of stone contains rose, tulip, Easter palm, fern, oak leaf, magnolia, maple, ivy, and daisies… all accented by hearts, fraternal symbols, and carved verses speaking to love for the departed and a sure knowledge of their eternal life. These feelings and beliefs are deeply articulated in the gravestone verses for Claudia Elise Wood and her newborn son Earnest Howard Wood, who died within hours of each other
 after his birth:

“Mother”
A ray of sunshine she ever
 was
Though saddened with 
worldly cares
She’s gone to the mighty maker above
Who shares all our toils
 and cares.

“Son”
A flower plucked from our 
midst
As it were by God’s omnipotent
 hand
To grace the mighty throne
 on high
Of the new Jerusalem.

Clay Cemetery’s conventional gravestones also illustrate the economic and social path of the Clay Family, Kirkwood, and Atlanta in DeKalb County during the 19th and early 20th centuries from the earliest settlers clearing and farming the land, to their land rich and upper class children, followed by comfortably middle class children and grandchildren, to the generation of grandchildren and great grandchildren devastated and set adrift by the Great Depression. These changes are represented by a shift in markers from long gone wooden materials, to simple tablet stones, to expensive and complex Victorian and Edwardian gravestones followed by a return to simpler forms ultimately replaced from economic necessity by homemade cement gravestones. The cemetery’s history accurately illustrates the economic and social path of Kirkwood and Atlanta in DeKalb during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Gravestones are part of the growing evidence that Clay Cemetery evolved from a pioneer family cemetery to become a white upper middle class neighborhood cemetery, later becoming a cemetery defined more by income than geography during the depression.

 

#221: Florina Clay

#221: Florina Clay

#223: Cleveland Clay

#223: Cleveland Clay

#223: Cleveland Clay (Full)

#223: Cleveland Clay (Full)

#225: Talmadge Clay

#225: Talmadge Clay

#233: Margaret Hammond Dunn

#233: Margaret Hammond Dunn

#233: Roof and Four Pillars

#233: Roof and Four Pillars

#236: Matilda Hammond

#236: Matilda Hammond

#241: Tom Hammond

#241: Tom Hammond

#242: Lila Lee Marston

#242: Lila Lee Marston

#248: Maggie Belle Felton (Front)

#248: Maggie Belle Felton (Front)

#259: Clay (Reverse side)

#259: Clay (Reverse side)

#259: Willie Smith

#259: Willie Smith

#261: John W Clay

#261: John W Clay

 


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Clay Cemetery Geneology

Clay Family of Virginia 

1. John Clay “of Derby” 

2. John Clay “of Glouchester”

3. Sir John Clay (b. 1558, Wales, d. 5/16/1632, England) married: Mary Carlton (b. approx. 1566). Two other marriages without children.

  • Theopolis Clay – Richard Clay (b. 1585, England)
  • Charles Clay (b. approx.1587, England, d. 1610, England)
  • Henry Clay (b. approx., 1587, England, d. ? )
  • John Clay (b. approx.1592, Monmouthshire, Wales, d. approx. 1638, Charles City County, Virginia)
  • William Clay (b. approx. 1602, England)

4. John Clay (b. approx.1592, Monmouthshire, Wales, d. approx. 1638, Charles City County, Va.) emigrated: Jamestown, Va. aboard the Treasurer 2/1613 married: Anne, approx. 1623

  • John Clay (b. approx. 1624, Charles City County, Va., d. approx. 1647, Charles City County, Va.)
  • William Clay (b. approx. 1628, Charles City County, Va., d. 1663, Charles City County, Va.)

5. John Clay (b. approx. 1624, Charles City County, Va., d. approx. 1647, Charles City County, Va.) married: Elizabeth approx. 1644

  • Charles Clay (b. 1645, Charles City County, Va., d. 6/1/1686, Henrico County, Va.)
  • William Clay

6. Charles Clay (b. 1645, Charles City County, Va, d. 6/1/1686, Henrico County, Va.). married: Hannah Wilson (b. 1642, d. approx. 1706), approx. 1667

  • John Clay (b. approx. 1668, Henrico Co, Va., d. 1723, Chowan Co, N.C.)
  • Thomas Clay (b. approx. 1670, Henrico Co, Va., d. 1726, Prince George Co, Va.)
  • Henry Clay (b. 1672, Henrico Co, Va., d. 1760, Henrico Co, Va.)
  • Mary Clay (b. approx. 1675, Henrico Co, Va.)
  • Elizabeth Clay (b. approx. 1678, Henrico Co, Va.)
  • Judith Clay (b. approx. 1681, Henrico Co, Va.)
  • Charles Clay (b. approx. 1684, Henrico Co, Va., d. 1765, Chesterfield Co., Va.)

7. Henry Clay (b. 8/3/1672, Henrico County, Virginia, d. 8/3/1760, Henrico County, Virginia) married: Mary Mitchell (b. 1693, d. 1777)

  • William Mitchell Clay (b. 1/15/1708, d. 9/6/ 1774)
  • Charles Clay (d. 1/31/1716)
  • John Clay
  • Martha Clay
  • Henry Clay Jr.

8. William Mitchell Clay (b. 1/15/1708, d. 9/6/ 1774); married: Martha Runyan (first wife) 1732

  • Pearce Clay
  • William Clay
  • Davie Clay
  • Elizabeth Clay
  • Mitchel Clay (b. 1735, Henrico County, VA; d. 1812, Franklin County, Va.)
  • Judith Clay
  • Henry J. Clay
  • Obediah Clay
  • Ezekial Clay
  • Meredith Clay
  • Hannah Clay
  • Nancy Clay

Married: Martha Anne Lewis (second wife)

  • William Clay (b. 1733)
  • Mitchel Clay (b. approx. 1735)
  • Obediah Clay (b. 1737, d. 1815)
  • David Clay (b. 1710)
  • Meredith Clay (b. 1742)
  • Nancy Clay (b. 1744)
  • Ezekial Clay (b. 1746)
  • Jesse Clay (b. 1745)
  • Hannah Clay 
  • Judith Clay (b. 1737, d. 1809)
  • Mary Elizabeth (b. 1755, d. 1810)

9. Jessie Clay, (b. approx. 1745 Goochland, Va., d. 8/15/1824 Jasper County, Ga.) married: Marium (b. approx.1745) 8/20/1798 (second wife)

10. Royal Clay, Sr. (b. 1768) of Randolph County, Georgia, later named Jasper County.

11. Jesse W. Clay, Sr. ( b. 1792, d. 2/1/1871) married Jane (first wife) in 1822. Ten children.

  • John Augustus (b.4/10/1810, d.1887)
  • Samuel C. (b. 1815)
  • Joseph F. (b. 1817)
  • Greenberry or Green B. (b. 1820, d. 5/21/1886)
  • Mary Ann (b. 1821, d. 4/7/1885)
  • Loucinda (b. 1824)
  • Malinda (b. 1825, d. 4/9/1866)
  • Jesse W. Jr. (b.1829, d.1863) married Susannah Brown (b.1830) in 1849
  • Elizabeth Jane (b. 1829)
  • Cleveland (b.1/9/1836, d. 4/28/1909) married Nancy in 1858 married Charity Wellborn (second wife) in 1858. No children.

Jesse Clay emigrated from Monticello, Jasper County , Georgia (where he shows on the Federal Census of 1820 along with his wife, three sons, a daughter, and six slaves) to settle in DeKalb County. He purchased Land Lots 206 and 207 of the 15th District, DeKalb County, from Taylor & Watts of Jasper County in 1826. Subsequent censuses do not document slaves (sources: U.S. Federal Censuses and Deposition of Cleveland Clay, 1896). They may have been replaced as Jesse Clay’s sons grew old enough to work or been sold to pay for the property.

Jesse Clay made the final payment on the land after traveling to South Carolina and back by horseback. He initially lived on the property in a tent and drew water from a spring at Wade’s Place hollow, now Gilliam Park.(source: Deposition of Cleveland Clay, 1896).

Jesse W. Clay Jr. was a Private in Company D, 42nd Georgia Infantry Regiment, the “Dekalb Rangers” on March 4, 1862. He died at Vicksburg, Miss, May 15, 1863 and is buried in Grave #1097, Cedar Hill (Vicksburg City) Cemetery. (Sources: Georgia Civil War Soldier Index, Page 58, and the Record Book of Confederate Soldiers, United Daughters of the Confederacy Case, Old Courthouse Museum, Elizabeth C. Taylor, Vicksburg Chapter No. 77, 1958)

12. Cleveland Clay (b.1836, d.1909) married Nancy (b.1842, d.1903) in1858

  • John W. (b.5/21/1861, d.9/20/1928)
  • Robert L. (b.9/27/1862, d.7/16/1863)
  • Elmer B. 
  • Geneva 
  • Nannie Bell Clay 
  • Mattie Clay, married

Cleveland Clay was a Private in Company D, 42nd Georgia Infantry Regiment, the “Dekalb Rangers” on May 13, 1862. He surrendered at Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. (Source – Georgia Civil War Soldier Index, Page 58).

Jesse Jr. and Cleveland’s unit was part of Barton-Stovall’s Georgia Infantry Brigade, Army of Tennessee. They fought in the following engagements: Bridgeport, AL., Tazwell, TN., Invasion of Kentucky (1862), Chickasaw Bayou, MS., Baker’s Creek, MS., Vicksburg, MS.(where Jesse Clay Jr. died), Missionary Ridge, TN., Dug Gap, GA., Resaca, GA., Cassville, GA., New Hope Church, GA., Kennesaw Mountain, GA., Chattahoochee River, GA., Peachtree Creek, GA., Atlanta, GA., Jonesboro, GA., Franklin, TN., Nashville, TN., Orangeburg, S.C., Columbia, S.C., Kingston, N.C., Bentonville, N.C., Greensboro, N.C., April 26, 1865 surrender (Source: http://www.geocities.com/athens/agora/9743/)

13. John (Warren) Clay (b.5/21/1861, d.9/20/1928) married Jeannie Hammond 

  • Maude Clay Meyer (b. 1890 d. 1948)
  • Nannie Lou Clay “Mattie” (b.1/19/1896, d. 9/23/1921) married Ernest Howard
  • John Allen Clay (b. 5/7/1881, d.7/5/1937)
  • Hal Amicus Clay (b. 1888) married Maggie West 
  • Warren Cleveland Clay (b. 12/11/1893 d. 7/6/1949)
  • Horace Weldon Clay (b. a/1898)
  • Talmadge Clay (b. 7/4/1899)

Hal Amicus and Maggie West Clay were exhumed between 1970-1972 and moved to Atlanta’s Greenwood Cemetery. He was in a vault and she in a wooden coffin. Her coffin fragments and some bones were moved, with some bones reportedly left behind. They had been buried in Clay Cemetery in front of the “Clay” group stone. Their descendents did so because Kirkwood had become a “bad neighborhood” where they “couldn’t visit”. The Clay Cemetery itself had deteriorated significantly and family care for the site ended at about this time. (Source: Clay family oral history – Jean Delores Clay)

Maude Clay Meyer used to care for graves and plant flowers in Clay Cemetery. She assisted many Clay family members economically over the years. (Source: Clay family oral history – Jean Delores Clay)

Horace Weldon Clay owned and operated a nightclub. Both he and his son, Horace “Wimpy” Clay Jr. (a former Navy officer), owned private aircraft. They died in separate air crashes in the late 1940’s. Horace Jr. died first, in a crash into a home nearby the airport. Horace Sr. crashed at the airport itself. (Source: Clay family oral history – Jean Delores Clay)

14. Warren Cleveland Clay (b. 12/11/1893 d. 7/6/1949) Married: Anne Diehl (First Wife, Georgia)

  • Mary Anne Clay 
  • Warren Cleveland Clay Jr.
  • Lenore Clay 

Catharine F. Shannon (Second Wife, California)

  • Catharine Margaret Clay Harrell 
  • Jean Delores Clay (b. 1934)
  • Nancy Clay (twin)
  • Naomi Clay DeMartin (twin)

Warren Cleveland Clay grew up in Kirkwood and was a member of a local militia. In WW I he joined the U.S. Army at Camp Stafford, Louisiana, and served in France with the 35th Transportation Corps, returning to Kirkwood after the war and honorably discharged as a sergeant. He is named after Jesse’s son Cleveland and is his grandson. He ultimately moved to California and raised a second family there. (Sources: U.S. Government Military Record Summary, Clay family oral history – Jean Delores Clay, Official Service Records World War 1917-1919 Dekalb County, Volume I) .