Monday, May 28, 2018
Monday – Memorial Day – saw the re-dedication of the Benevolent Cemetery located on the west side of South Church Street (Murfreesboro) just over the railroad tracks.
History of the Benevolent Cemetery
The property, formerly owned by the Benevolent Lodge #11 (January 7, 1897) and later the Independent Lodge, was sold to Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church on September 22, 1988, by Mrs. Mary Finch Goldman, a church member and the sole survivor of the Benevolent Lodge. The Benevolent site measures approximately eight acres and contains some 750-850 entombments, dating from the 1800’s through 2003, including several ‘Buffalo Soldiers’: John Cheers, Adam Delbridge and Henry Williams.
Although the magnitude of its significance, as well as its origin are known by few, the Benevolent Lodge organization was begun as a MUTUAL AID SOCIETY, serving the disenfranchised and the needy with the basics of human existence such as food, clothing, health and medical services with concern for having and securing a place or rest following the end-of-life her on this earth.
‘As the records of the LODGE were destroyed by a 1950’s fire at the site of the home of the superintendent of the lodge, Dr. McClellan, located at State Street and Highland Ave., little is known of the actual dates and details of its founding.
In an interview with Mrs. Mary Finch Goodman she said, “What is known is that it was established before my birth and that it had from 60-70 members whose mission was to take care of you when you are sick or incapacitated. As a member, upon your death, a lodge member or members remained with the body until the family arrived. Once there, the lodge member or members assisted the family in whatever way they could. The relationship was like that of a family.”
These hallowed grounds will be re-established and restored with an intact legacy of having provided crucial necessities that were deficient in a segment of society early in the history of our nation and one that is worthy of appreciation and respect as a sacred site!
A Benevolent Cemetery Account, as a part of the Allen Chapel AME Church’s Commission of Stewardship and Finance, is active.
Tax credits are available for contributions/donations made in support of the restoration/revitalization of the Benevolent Cemetery and can currently be made via checks made payable to the Allen Chapel AME Church for deposit to the Benevolent Cemetery Account.