Johns Creek discusses preservation needs for cemetery of formerly enslaved people

Johns Creek City Council approved the $52,000 purchase of Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery property Monday, though the owner of the nearly two-acre property is unknown. Photo Courtesy Kirk Canaday
Johns Creek City Council approved the $52,000 purchase of Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery property Monday, though the owner of the nearly two-acre property is unknown. Photo Courtesy Kirk Canaday

Johns Creek Historical Society and city officials will discuss efforts to preserve the burial site of formerlyenslaved residents during a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Members are working to increase awareness and raise funds for Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery. The property is located on Medlock Bridge Road near State Bridge Road and contains at least 53 marked and unmarked graves.

Johns Creek City Council agreed to purchase the two-acre property for $52,000 last November, although the owner is unknown. City officials plan to pay the funds to Fulton County Superior Court and file a petition for the land, a spokesperson said.

On Thursday, Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau will host a virtual forum where President Lynda Lee Smith, historical society members Joan Compton and Kirk Canaday, as well as four City Council members will discuss the history of the cemetery.

An image of the headstone for April Waters at Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery in Johns Creek. Waters, was a man who was freed after being enslaved. Photo Courtesy Kirk Canaday
An image of the headstone for April Waters at Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery in Johns Creek. Waters, was a man who was freed after being enslaved. Photo Courtesy Kirk Canaday

Records show graves at the cemetery date back to 1881 and the property was sold to Black residents for a church lot in 1905. Johns Creek has maintained the property since 2017.

The historical society wants to stabilize the terrain, create a memorial garden, identify unmarked graves that extend beyond the cemetery’s fenced boundaries and continue to repair headstones.

The organization will need to raise about $1.2 million for the necessary work, Canaday said.

“Black folks have to tell our story,” he said. “Some of those people buried were victims of lynchings and murder.”

Canaday said that in talking to other local historians, he’s learned that some of the earliest Black residents in Johns Creek have ties to other north Fulton cities where their relatives are buried in historic cemeteries.

Visit Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau website for link to the Thursday event

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