A maintenance man had discovered bones on property near Southern Hills Cemetery in Gadsden Tuesday morning. The historic cemetery is just up a hillside from the apartments where the remains were found. It was added to the Alabama Historic Cemeteries Register in 2013. The cemetery was abandoned for many years. For about three years, the Grace Heritage Foundation has been restoring it and trying to find the names of people buried there. The site was used as a cemetery for black residents from 1826 to 1971, and also was used as a paupers’ cemetery. Officials contacted police and Etowah County Coroner Michael Head, and discovered that some remains were apparently were removed from graves or at least moved from grave sites after becoming exposed.
There were signs of vandalism , A hole has been knocked in one vault and other markers have been pushed over or broken. Head took possession of the bones discovered Tuesday. He said there’s no question that the bones were old ones and that they came from the cemetery. Looking at the cemetery, he said, it appeared someone, perhaps kids, had been there and disturbed some of the graves.
Through the work of the Grace Heritage Foundation, about 476 graves at Southern Hills Cemetery have been found, some of which are not marked.