Oak Hill & Early Birmingham

In 1871 the City of Birmingham purchased from the Elyton Land Company 21.5 acres of land for a city cemetery (later named Oak Hill). The deed was issued on December 29, 1873. As the first city cemetery, Oak Hill became the resting place for virtually all of the Birmingham pioneers.
Far left, holding his hat: Samuel Earle, former President of the Association. Far right rear, George Willis Hays, Association Secretary 1924-1936. Second from right, front row: Mayor George Ward.
Grand Army of the Republic lot, ca. 1933.
Oak Hill entrance on 19th Street circa.1912

Although the early residents complained that Oak Hill Cemetery (then known as City Cemetery) was too far from town, the city center has expanded to the Southern border of the cemetery. Its location on the South-facing slopes of North Birmingham offers some of the most spectacular vistas of the city. So much so, that Pioneer citizen Charles Linn was reported to have stated: "O ye of little Faith! When I die, bury me on the high promontory overlooking Birmingham, so that on Judgment Day I will gaze upon the greatest industrial city in the entire South!"

Oak Hill Cemetery has been placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Oak Hill Cemetery was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 1977. It was the first cemetery in the State of Alabama to be listed on this prestigious register.

Oak Hill Memorial Association

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The Association

At the time of Birmingham’s founding, the original acreage of Oak Hill Cemetery may have seemed adequate in size. As the City boomed and expanded, Oak Hill Became landlocked by development, and the first lots were mostly sold by 1910. Other cemeteries opened near the turn of the 20th Century (Elmwood ca. 1895, Forest Hill, ca. 1906) and Oak Hill began to suffer neglect. Oak Hill Memorial Association was organized and incorporated in May 1913, as a perpetual corporation.

The purpose of the Association is to look after, beautify, improve, and maintain Oak Hill Cemetery. At the time of the Association’s founding, the living, whose dead were buried in Oak Hill contemplated with anxiety the potential future of the cemetery as unkempt, uncared for, and desecrated.

Although the City of Birmingham maintains ownership of the cemetery, Oak Hill Memorial Association has managed the property for well over one-hundred years. Throughout the year, Oak Hill Memorial Association sponsors historical tours, preservation workshops, and other special events. You can help to support the Oak Hill Memorial Association’s mission by becoming a member.

Members

Officers

Terry Slaughter

President

John Carraway

Vice President

Edward Thomas

Treasurer

Pam S. King

Secretary

Trustees

Dr. Leah Rawls Atkins
Dennis Brooks
Mrs. Howard W. Cater
Stephen B. Coleman, Jr.
Joseph Dennis
Karen Downs
Walter E. Henley, III
David Herring
Mark Kelly
Leigh Laatsch
Beth McCord
Stan Palla
Erskine Ramsay, II
Jane Reed Ross
Hon. Scott Vowel
James W. Porter, II - President Emeritus
Dr. Lawrence Greer - Treasurer Emeritus

Staff

Stuart Oates

Executive Director

Stories of Interest

Louise C.Wooster

1842—1913
In 1873, Lou was a well-paid lady of the evening when a deadly cholera epidemic swept through Birmingham.
Read This Story

Charles Linn

1814 – 1882
"I shall have my tomb built upon a high promontory above the town of Birmingham, in which you men profess to have so little faith, so that I may walk out on Judgment Day and view the greatest industrial city of the entire South."
Read This Story

John T. Milner

1826—1898
As a railroad engineer, Milner determined where the South & North Alabama Railroad would cross the Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad and therefore the site of the future city of Birmingham.
Read This Story

The Hawes Riots

1888
The jury, composed entirely of middle to upper class-white males aged 28 to 47 deliberated for fifty-five minutes and decided upon the death penalty on May 3, 1889.
Read This Story

Dr. Grace Hughes Guin

1912—2002
By graduating in an otherwise all-male class at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1943, Grace Hughes Guin scored a victory for feminism.
Read This Story