Saturday, February 18, 2017, Frank Caperton, President of the Rutherford County Historical Society
Saturday, February 18, 2017 was an incredible celebration of the community once known as ‘Cemetery’. The African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County, the Friends of the Stones River National Battlefield, MTSU and the Stones River National Battlefield shared memories with almost 100 fans of our local history.
The following is a brief history of Cemetery:
There was once a thriving community of freed slaves north of Murfreesboro on the ground once fought on invading Federal army and the Confederate army in the Battle of Stones River.
After the Civil War, freed slaves began working this land. They became landowners, shop keepers, educators,
ministers and leading members of our community.
This area generally known as ‘Cemetery’ yet there were two communities – the Cedars and the Bottoms (not to be confused with the Bottoms near downtown Murfreesboro). Cemetery hosted three churches and a school.
In 1927, the United States Congress sanctioned the creation of Stones River National Military Park. The War Department was responsible for our military parks at this time thus selected roughly 325 acres of land near the existing Stones River National Cemetery as the locations for the new Stones River National Military Park.
Many landowners objected to the federal government impounding the land their forefathers worked so hard to acquire. Yet black residents living in the Cedars and the Bottoms were displaced between 1929 and 1932.
Very little evidence of the community once known as Cemetery exists within the boundaries of the Stones River National Battlefield. Still, several buildings, a school, two churches and thousands of stories associated with the Cemetery community endure just beyond the boundaries of the Stones River National Battlefield.