Magnolia Cemetery

Founded in 1836, the yellow fever epidemics that filled Church Street Cemetery necessitated a new cemetery - Magnolia Cemetery.

Originally called the New Burial Ground, the name was officially changed to Magnolia Cemetery in 1867.

The Jewish Rest section, also known as the Old Hebrew Burial Ground, was deeded to Congregation Sha'arai Shomayim by the City of Mobile in 1841 and is the oldest Jewish burial ground in Alabama. The Jewish Rest section was full after only a few decades and led to the establishment of two additional Jewish cemeteries in Mobile, the Sha'arai Shomayim Cemetery and the Ahavas Chesed Cemetery for the Conservative Jewish congregation.

In 1846 the city began to grant free burial plots within the cemetery to civic, labor, and religious organizations including The Coal Handlers Union, Colored Benevolent Institution Number One, Cotton Weighers Society, Draymens Relief Society, Homeless Seamen, Independent Ladies Mill and Timber Association, and the Protestant Orphan Asylum Society. This policy ended in 1873.

The Confederate Rest section in 1861 for Confederate soldiers and was initially called Soldiers Rest. The Mobile National Cemetery annex was established in 1866, when the city donated 3 acres to the United States government. The Mobile National Cemetery was closed to burial in 1962 due to it being at capacity

In 1868 the 7 acre Goldsmith and Frohlichstein section was added to the cemetery adjacent to Jewish Rest. The elevated and highly desirable plots in this section eventually became the resting place for both Jews and Gentiles with some of the more elaborate sculptures and mausolea in the entire cemetery. The cemetery was enclosed with a fence in 1883 and 1913 saw the addition of a set of monumental gates at the George Street entrance.

By 1970 nearly 60% of the cemetery was abandoned and overgrown. In 1984 the Historic Mobile Preservation Society formed the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery as a non-profit corporation. A contemporary iron fence was designed by local architects Arch Winter and Thomas Karwinski. The efforts by the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery led to the cemetery being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

In 1997 local veterans requested that the Mobile National Cemetery section be reopened to burial with an expansion into the last city owned piece of property at the southeast corner of Ann and Virginia Streets. Upon investigation with ground-penetrating radar it was discovered that the proposed area of expansion was filled with over 4000 graves, most likely those of African Americans dating to the middle of the 19th century, making any further expansion impossible

This 120-acre cemetery contains 80,000 gravesites including early Mobile settlers and Confederate soldiers. Notables include Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Battle House Hotel owner James Battle, renowned physician Dr. Josiah Nott, twice Governor of Alabama John Gayle, Civil War authoress Augusta Evans Wilson, Cowbellian de Rakin society founder Michael Krafft, Apache Indian Chappo Geronimo, and the founders of Bellingrath Gardens, Walter D. and Bessie Morse Bellingrath.

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