Marker honoring the start of country music found in small cemetery

Q: We just moved from Nashville and I thought I knew quite a bit about country music. But I have not heard about The Georgia Fiddler. Can you tell me about him?

A: You are talking about "Fiddlin' John" Carson, who became one of the first country musicians to broadcast country music over a radio, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. He was 45 at the time.

In 1923, Carson began making records. Okeh Records allowed him to record two songs: “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” and “The Old Hen Crakled and Roster’s Going to Crow.”

The record sold over 500,000 copies and became the first hit record in the music genre known as country.

Carson (1868-1949) grew up in Cobb County and later settled in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown.

He recorded the first county song in Atlanta. The building, located downtown on Nassau Street, is at the center of a two-year battle between preservationists and developers.

Other local musicians, including Fannie May Goosby and the Morehouse College Quartet, recorded there as well.

A Myrtle Beach developer acquired a demolition permit last month and is planning to build a 21-story, “Margaritaville”-themed hotel, timeshare rental and restaurant, in a nod to Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 hit song.

Carson is buried in a family plot at the Sylvester Cemetery in an East Atlanta neighborhood off Clifton Road SE.

A dirt and gravel path called Fiddlin’ Carson Lane leads you to the family plot.

The marker is about 36 steps up the lane and located on the right off Clifton.

On the face of the marker (a big rock) are the words “The Georgia Fiddler” and “First in recording country.” There is a simple stick-figure illustration of him with a fiddle on his shoulder and his leg on the outline of Georgia with the date 1923, the year he recorded the first country song.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the only person at the cemetery was a man mowing the lawn in the back corner. A majority of the graves had faded flowers at the headstones. Mosquitoes were active and made the visit miserable.

A plot near Carson’s has three small gargoyle statues standing guard over several graves.

The cemetery began in 1838 and is the resting place for many of East Atlanta’s settlers.

Large trees surround the graves. The cemetery needs some repairs and landscape maintenance.

The Sylvester Cemetery is open to the public.


New to town or simply have a question about this place we call home? Email us at