I grew up in Talladega, Alabama and thought I knew everything about the area.
While talking to my
cousin, Mickey, about historical interests, he mentioned a cemetery in Mardisville with civil war graves.
He indicated that he and his brother, Ricky, found the cemetery by accident some time back. He and I took
a trip to the area a few months later, but could not find the cemetery because of all the overgrowth. I
believe I may have just given up too soon. We planned a return visit for early February so we could check
it out again and hopefully, winter would kill some of the weeds and overgrowth.
In the meantime, an old childhood friend, David Freeman, posted an article on Facebook about a relative buried in a cemetery in Mardisville. I just assumed he was talking about one of the two cemeteries you can see from the highway - never thought he was talking about the "Forgotten Cemetery." I called him to get more details. He sent information and pictures. It was the "Forgotten Cemetery" - most of this article's history details is based on the information he provided.
February came and we returned to again search for the cemetery, thus beginning an unforgettable adventure. I parked my car at the Mardisville Historic Marker and started walking into the woods. I was overcome by what we found. Overturned tombstones, sunken graves and trees fallen across many of the markers. It is difficult to understand this was once a maintained public cemetery. I have never seen a cemetery so overtaken by time and neglect.
The "Forgotten Mardisville Public Cemetery," Mardisville, Alabama!
One cannot fully know the history of Talladega City and County without considering the impact of an abandoned and forgotten town of the past. Mardisville, Alabama, originally called Jumper's Springs, was once home to the Talladega County Land Office. The town was renamed Mardisville to honor Samuel Wright Mardis. Born in Fayetteville, Tennessee in 1800, Samuel Mardis moved to Alabama before 1823 and was elected to the Legislature of the State of Alabama. He also served in the US House of Representatives from 1831 to 1835 from Shelby County, Alabama. After Samuel left Congress in 1835, he moved to the Talladega area and died in 1836 at the age of 36. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Talladega, next to his half-brother, Isaac Estill. He left a widow, Mary Eliza Taylor, and three small children. He was also a witness to the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta (Creek Treaty). General Andrew Jackson's victories over the Red Stick Creeks at the Battle of Talladega and the subsequent Battle of Horseshoe Bend opened eastern and central Alabama to settlement. The area officially remained Creek territory until the signing of the Treaty of Cusseta (Creek Treaty) in 1832.
Mardisville was established after the Creek Treaty and became the center of court activities for the area. Mardisville quickly became a thriving town with two churches, boys and girl's academies, a tavern/boarding house and numerous stores with several lawyers and physicians. The Creek Treaty specifically granted a half section of land to an African American man, Joseph Bruner, in recognition for his services as an interpreter. Bruner soon sold his tract of land to a local man, Jesse Duran.
In July 1834, Duran donated the tract of land for a town site, with the proviso that he and his partner receive a portion of the monies from the public sales. Six months later on January 9, 1835, the Alabama Legislature incorporated the town of Talladega. Shortly after incorporation, Talladega began to grow with the construction of log houses, taverns, trading posts, hotels, and churches. As a result, the town was chosen by just one vote as the site for the county courthouse, making Talladega the county seat. As the City of Talladega thrived Mardisville slowly became a ghost town and disappeared except for three cemeteries, street names reflecting its past, and a historical marker reminding us of its place in history. The town of Mardisville was abandoned as residents and businesses moved closer to the City of Talladega where churches, schools, courthouse, retail and commercial enterprises were being located. The Mardisville post office finally closed its doors in 1881 by then the majority of all the structures were falling or destroyed and forgotten.
The Mardisville Public Cemetery contains the remains of many early Talladega pioneers. Included in these are Isaac Killough, Levi Lawler, Henry Sims, James G. Hancock, Captain William H. Hancock, and M. P. Gaddie just to name a few dating back to 1800. Several Civil War Veterans including: Captain William H. Hancock; Sgt. Phillip N. Duncan, Co A, 8 Confederate Cavalry; Surgeon Samuel M. Hogan, Co A, 8 Confederate. Army; and Wilbur Fisk, Co A, 8 Confederate Army.
Walking through the cemetery is a trip back in history and a real shame how it has been forgotten. Once the thriving town of Mardisville now vanished and the Historical Town Cemetery neglected; most of the graves are overgrown with trees, sunken and tombstones overturn. The Town of Mardisville no longer exists. However, the cemetery can still be saved, but time is critical. Since I am out of town, a local person is badly needed to spearhead a fundraiser and mount a cleaning up effort for the Cemetery. I will come and help with the cleanup once.
JUST THINKING OUT LOUD FROM HERE DOWN
I would like to see what can be done to clean up these graves to show proper respect.
1. Where do we have to go to get permission to clean it up or do we need permission?
2. How do we get word out about efforts to clean up?
3. Is there anyone in area willing to spearhead the efforts?
4. Set up timeframe for cleanup and see if we can get volunteers.