Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery, an African-American cemetery in Athens, Georgia, contains the graves of many black veterans who served their country from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War period, World War I, World War II to later combat periods.
More than 50 Athens African Americans are buried in Gospel Pilgrim with military markers for their honorable service in the U. S. military. Many served in the segregated armed forces before integration took place in World War II.
Gospel Pilgrim was founded as a beautiful cemetery for African Americans in 1882 and contains some 3,500 graves. Of this number about 800 or so have been identified. Most are unmarked. The cemetery is at Fourth and Bray streets in East Athens, near Springfield Baptist Church. It is under the administration of the East Athens Development Corporation, Inc., Winston Heard, director.
Ancestry.com, one of the best-known genealogical services online, now has placed on the Web the applications for military headstones between the years of about 1925 through 1963. These applications offer families trying to trace their history important information about the military service and genealogical facts of their ancestors. The nation furnishes free official military head stones to honorably discharged veterans who have no private markers on their graves. Once you find your veteran ancestor received a headstone, you can use the information to trace his military career, frequently with the name of unit served in. This can lead to finding out pension information and sometimes a wealth of service record data.
The Georgia online applications show that the marble markers were prepared at Tate, Georgia, from native Georgia marble. Although the Ancestry.com application files are not nearly complete, the records online cover the most active burial periods in Gospel Pilgrim's history. Few burials were made at Gospel Pilgrim after the 1960's. Online applications also cover the same time period for many other Athens cemeteries where headstones were furnished. For African-American families, the applications for headstones in Brooklyn Cemetery, another African-American cemetery in Athens, match Gospel Pilgrim's listings in genealogical value.
The headstone listings, however, DO NOT contain the specific location of burial in the cemetery. The author of this article has a spreadsheet of all identified graves at Gospel Pilgrim. Please, note, however, that not all veterans' graves with headstones have been found at Gospel Pilgrim. About a quarter of the cemetery is still uncleared, and other markers may have been knocked over or covered with shrubs or soil. I'll be happy to run a check for you if you want information on a grave location at Gospel Pilgrim, or if you wish to visit an ancestor's site. This information is also available online at http://www.gospelpilgrimcemetery.com/burial-records/ If you have a veteran relative who served honorably in the services, he or she may still be eligible for a beautiful government-furnished military marker. These markers come as flat marble or bronze varieties. Funeral homes or veterans' groups can give details, or look on the Web for military headstone application instructions. The markers are free.
Information on the applications include the unit of military service, birth and death dates, when the headstones were furnished and where they were to be installed. The headstones themselves give brief information including the name of the deceased veteran, type of service and a symbol of what religious affiliation the person had. The applications also give the name of the family member applying for the headstone and their address. If you want to find out whether your Athens veteran ancestor got a headstone, applications from 1925-1963 may be viewed online at http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=QGHeadstoneApps&rank=1&new=1&MSAV=0&msT=1&gss=angs-d&msdpn__ftp=Athens,+Clarke,+Georgia,+USA&msdpn=18082&msdpn_PInfo=8-|0|1652393|0|2|3245|13|0|634|18082|0|&uidh=ca9&gl=&gst=&hc=50&
(The above website address was accurate as of March, 2013.) Ancestry.com furnishes service by subscription, but you can use it free at many libraries.
If you want to check on headstone applications in other areas, you can specify the cemetery location and get a listing for areas desired other than Gospel Pilgrim.
What follows is a list of the veterans buried with headstones from 1925 to 1963 at Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery, their name, date of birth and death and military unit and the war in which they served. If there is an asterisk by the name, it means the veteran's grave hasn't been found yet at Gospel Pilgrim, but the burial should have taken place there. There are a few military headstones at Gospel Pilgrim without supporting application records online. These applications may have been made outside the 1925-63 period.
Part 2 of this blog will go into detail about some of the more unusual or interesting facts obtained from studying the headstone applications at Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery.
Veterans Buried with Military Headstones, Gospel Pilgrim and Hillcrest Cemetery, Athens, GA
Name Birth Death Military Unit War
Armour, Edward R.* 1909 1952 Pvt 774th AirMaterielSquadron WW2
Armour, Willie B.* 1909 1957 3707thAAF Base Unit, Army WW2
Austin, Henry L. ? 1940 Pvt 157 Depot Brig. WW1
Barksdale, Andrew D. ? 1933 317 Supply Bn. WW1 Binns, William Ed* ? 1919 Pvt 514th Engrs. WW1
Bolton, Clark 1919 1950 Pvt US Army, Unassigned WW2
Bolton, Earl* 1921 1955 Tec5 4368QMBakeryCo.(Mobile) WW1
Bonner, John* 1901 1944 Pvt, CoB 2ndReserveTrainingBn WW1
Brunt, Wakefield 1893 1927 Sgt. Army (Mil. Mrkr unreadable) WW1 Burns, Edward D. 1917 1944 CoD371stInfRegt, 92InfDiv WW2
Campbell, John B. 1877 1944 U.S. Volunteer Inf. WW1
Campbell, Miller L. ? 1936 Pvt. 101 Hosp. Corps WW1
Collins, Isaac 1876 1927 Draft Reg. exists, no othr record WW1
Davenport, Arthe(u)r* 1916 1959 PfcCoA1813EngrsAvn Bn WW2
Davis, Clifford L*. ? 1920 Pvt 157DepotBri.,Army WW1
Gilbert, Robert 1890 1953 Pvt Co C 157thDepBrig WW1
Greene, Augustus C. 1909 1941 Sgt. Maj. US Army WW2
Harden, Edgar 1892 1954 Cpl. Co D 346 Svc Bn WW1
Hawkins, Ulysses S. A.* 1875 1914 PvtCoG, U.S.9thCavalry Span.Amer.
Hicks, Charles [note] 1841 1916 Pvt 138thRegtCol.Troops Civil War Hill, Marion A.* 1917 1955 Tch5, Port Co,TransCor WW2 Hill, William Walter* 1882 1947 Pvt44TransBn, 157Brig.,
63rd Pioneer Inf. WW1
Jordan, William P. 1914 1954 Tch5 271st PortCo Army WW1
Lumpkin, Daniel ? 1927 Cpl 12thCo ForestEngrs WW1
Maddox, Frank 1896 1944 Pvt. 157th DepotBrig. WW1
Marable, John ? 1955 811th Pioneer Inf. WW1 Milner, Ellis* 1892 1962 PvtCoB403rdLaborBn WW1
Mines, John, Jr.* 1917 1945 Pvt., 297PortCo TC WW2
Moore, Jesse B. 1891 1962 Cpl. CoD 315 Svc Bn WW1
Morton, Charlie C. 1895 1948 MedDepBase2CampHosp WW1
Morton, Frank B.* ? 1934 Sgt, 157thDepotBrigade WW1
Milner, Ellis* 1892 1962 PvtCoB403rdLaborBn WW1
Mines, John, Jr.* 1917 1945 Pvt., 297PortCo TC WW2
Newings, John Evin 1932 1956 Pvt. US Army Korea
Odom, Jesse* 1933 1951 PFC(KIA)CoK 8thCavReg Korea
Owens, Alphonso A. 1900 1930 Pvt. SATC Meharry Med WW1
Owens, Jesse ? 1930 Pvt. 403rd Labor Bn WW1
Patrick, Lyon 1907 1952 Pfc. 403rd Res Labor Bn WW1
Payne, Henry Jr.* 1919 1946 Pfc953AAFBaseUnit WW2
Pitt(s), Willie ? 1946 Pvt. 157th Depot Brig. WW1
Poyner, Thomas 1896 1967 Bugler?, 315thLaborBn WW1
Reid, Willie 1894 1938 QtrmasterCorps WW1
Rucker, Monroe ? 1919 Pvt. 530th Engrs. WW1
Sanders, Edward O.* ? 1921 Pvt. 55th Depot Brig. WW1
Saphloe, William W.* 1911 1948 Capt. 64thQMBnGermany WW2
Shanks, Otis ? 1957 Cook, 15th Depot Brig. WW1
Shaw, Willie A.* ? 1927 48thCo 157DepotBrig. WW1
Smith, Robert ? 1925? 313th Svc Bn. WW1
Stanton, Curtis W.* 1911 1956 No headstone application Korea
Stephens, Peyton S. 1911 1958 Sgt. Hq41stEngr. Regt. WW2
Stewart, Vance W.* 1906 1960 Tch5, 213PortCo. Army WW2
Stovall, Claude 1912 1949 Pfc. Qtrmstr Corps WW2
Strickland, George H. 1908 1954 Army, no headstone rec. WW2
Strickland, John A.* ? 1919 Pvt45thCo 12Bn157Dep WW1
Tate, Son* ? 1940 Pvt842ndCo845thRegt WW1
Terrell, Burnett ? 1944 Sgt. 3768 QM Trk Co. WW2
Willingham, Frank* ? 1934 PvtCoD3085Bn WW1 Winkfield, Walter P. ? 1932 Pvt. 304 Svc Bn. QMC WW1
Wood, Miles 1888 1947 Pioneer Inf. WW1
*Burial site in Gospel Pilgrim not yet found.
Hicks note: Descendants expected to apply for military marker.
General Note: A few of these burials are in Hillcrest Cem., adjacent to Gospel Pilgrim Cem., on the side by the apartment complex on 4th St.