Myrtle Hill Cemetery
From downtown Rome, Georgia, a hill scattered with graves can be seen across the Etatwal River. This hill is named Myrtle Hill Cemetery, which is the location of thousands of graves. With a history that goes back before the Civil War the hill could tell quite a story, or at least the people that are buried there could. Between Confederate soldiers to groundbreaking doctors, the history that lies beneath the dirt on that hill could not be more diverse.
Backstory and Context
The people of Rome had been having problems finding placed to bury their loved ones where the several flooding rivers in the area could not get to them. In result, the city hired a civil engineer, Coronal Cunningham Pennington, to solve this reoccurring problem. In 1850, he finished his design which was laid over Myrtle hill, where the flood waters could not get to. His design included six terraces over the thirty two acres to have a level place to bury the dead. Once the cemetery was established in 1857 people were starting to be buy burial plots there, and today there are over 20,000 graves on the property. This is the story on how Rome made this historical place.
Shortly after its completion, the Civil War broke out in the United States. With the location being in the south, there are several Confederate soldiers buried there. In total there are 300 that come from all eleven Confederate states, 81 of which are unknown. One famous grave in the cemetery is the headstone in a tree. The grave is an unknown Confederate soldier which was buried under an oak tree. As time when on the tree partially consumed the headstone, making this a famous icon for the cemetery. Another famous part of the hill is the Confederate Statue at the peak. Named Johnny Red, the statue was placed there as a monument to the Hill family that is buried in the cemetery. Rome was a target of the Union because of their manufacturing of weapons for the Confederacy, this explains why there is two unknown Union soldiers’ graves here. The several soldiers buried here are only one of the stories this hill can tell about American history.
Among the thousands of graves on Myrtle Hill there are several diseased United States leaders. There are four men who served as United States congressman. In addition, one of the four also served as a congressman for Georgia in the Confederate States of America in 1862, his name was Nathan Henry. There was a first lady of the United States, Ellen Axson Wilson, put to rest in the cemetery. Her husband Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President. Homer V. M. Miller was a senator who died in 1896 and chose to be buried in Rome. He was the first senator from Georgia after the Civil war. On the many terraces of Myrtle Hill lays several leaders of American that help mold the future of the country.
These are a few of the popular grave sites in this nationally registered historical place. The breath taking view of downtown Rome and the Georgia landscape from the peak of the cemetery is worthwhile to see. To get the most out of the visit, download the Myrtle Hill Cemetery app on iTunes or the Play Store which can give you a detailed description and history of the popular graves. For over a 150 years this towering hill by the Etatwal River has been the final resting ground of Romanians and has become a place that preserves the history of their city, state, and country.