Home Graceland Cemetery
Abbeville, Louisiana

groove

Plaque designed by Donald Caldwell

History

    The establishment of the Graceland Cemetery was announced by the Abbeville Meridional on June 27, 1908, as follows:

"New Cemetery.

    "A few progressive people in Abbeville, believing that the day of the 'brierpatch graveyard' for the town, has passed have combined to establish a respectable cemetery for Abbeville and vicinity.  They have secured four arpents of land, on Graceland Avenue in the North Eastern part of town, near the limits of the corporation.  The ground selected is high and well located, on one of the widest and in future to be, one of the most beautiful streets of the town.  The Avenue is sixty-six feet wide including the sidewalk.
    "The cemetery is to be laid off into large family lots, with wide walks between.  It is contemplated to spend a considerable sum  of money on the cemetery, at once in the planting of trees, shrubbery and flowers,  as well as in laying off and shelling wide drive ways through the cemetery.  Family lots to be of various sizes some 50 feet square, some 40 feet square, some 25 and 20 feet square and less.
    "Quite a number of families have spoken for lots already, and will remove their dead to the new cemetery, in time.  Not much can be done before next winter.  As this cemetery is located on Graceland Avenue, the name of 'Graceland Cemetery,' is suggested.  When this project is further developed and the place is prepared for use, the public will be fully informed of terms and particulars."

 

    The "few progressive people" referred to in the preceding article were Wakeman W. Edwards, J. Nelson Greene, William P. Edwards, Dr. Clarence J. Edwards, Sarah Edwards Petty, and representatives of the Abbeville Masonic Lodge.

Historical marker

    The event that motivated the Edwards family was undoubtedly the death of Martha Hollingsworth Edwards, wife of W. W. Edwards, on March 2, 1908.  She was originally buried at the family home "Grayfriars" on North State Street in Abbeville, but was later moved to Graceland Cemetery.

W. W. Edwards tombstone in Graceland Cemetery

    On August 1, 1908, Wakeman W. Edwards, William P. Edwards, Dr. Clarence J. Edwards, Sarah Edwards Petty, and J. Nelson Greene sold to the Abbeville Masonic Lodge Lot 1 of Rosedale Addition, being a tract of land measuring 192 feet on Graceland Avenue by 359 feet deep.   From this tract the Masons created the "New Masonic Cemetery."  The price was $200.00 cash.  On May 1, 1909, the same sellers sold the adjacent tract of land to the west measuring 200 feet on Graceland Avenue by 358 feet deep to the Graceland Cemetery Association, a Louisiana corporation.  Later, the cemetery was enlarged by adding property to the west and to the north of the original two tracts.  On July 10, 1967, the Graceland Cemetery Association conveyed to Abbeville Masonic Lodge No. 192 F & AM, all of its interest in the Graceland Cemetery except for a fifty by fifty foot square in the northern portion of the cemetery, and the Masonic Lodge then maintained and operated the entire cemetery exclusively.

    The first person to be buried in Graceland Cemetery was Francis Lovelace "Frank" Wall, who died September 12, 1908, and who in his lifetime ran a hotel overlooking Magdalen Square (at the site of the present Young Eye Clinic) known as the "Wall House."  Several people who had been buried in an intermediate Masonic cemetery were later moved to Graceland Cemetery.

Francis Wall headstone

    The plaque and gateway to the cemetery were designed by Donald Caldwell, a young engineer who unfortunately died young and is now buried in Graceland Cemetery.  His death was reported in the Meridional on February 12, 1938, as follows (click on the image to enlarge):

Donald Caldwell obituary

    In 2002, the Masonic Lodge donated to Graceland Cemetery Association, Inc., a newly formed corporation, all of the interest that it had in Graceland Cemetery.  The new corporation represents a reincarnation of the original Graceland Cemetery Association, and thus the circle has been completed.

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