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Live oak Cemetery, Selma Alabama   by Howard Watkins

The West Selma Cemetery now known as Old Live Oak Cemetery is one of the few southern cemeteries listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To date there have been over 8,000 burials.

The Cemetery lies to the south side of Dallas Avenue. It is bordered on the east by Pettus street and on the west by Valley Creek and is dissected by King Street.

Majestic moss covered live oaks, beautiful sculptured monuments and wide paths characterize the historic landmark. In about 1833 the Selma city founders set aside a place for a burial ground and called it the West Selma Graveyard. and in 1877 The City purchased additional land to the west for additional space.

In the early part of the cemetery the layout was seemingly unplanned. On January 9, 1856 An ordinance was adopted declaring the graveyard a public nuisance and prohibiting any additional graves. The East Selma Graveyard was than established.

In 1858 the old grave yard was put in order and surrounded by a fence. The ordinance was changed to allow burial of white citizens who had relatives already buried there. In 1877 The City purchased additional land from the west of King street to Valley creek for additional space. Thanks to the Ladies Memorial Association, the newer addition is sectioned off with large avenues for walking or driving.

On April 26, 1878 The Confederate Soldiers Memorial was dedicated. It occupies a prominent position in the center of the new section.

In 1879 Col N.R.H. Dawson imported live oak and magnolia trees from Mobile to be planted in both the old and new sections and the name was changed to Live Oak Cemetery. Dawson himself is buried in the new section. Col Dawson's Wife Elodie Todd was a half sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. Colonel Dawson also served as U.S. commissioner of education. I 1880 he was chosen Speaker of the Alabama House.

Some Famous people buried at Live Oak:

- William Rufus King, founder of Selma, U.S. senator and vice president of the United States.

- Benjamin Sterling Turner, Alabama's first black congressman.

- Col. N.R.H. Dawson U. S. commissioner of education and his wife Elodie Todd Dawson sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.

- John Tyler Morgan, Confederate General who later became U.S. Senator and "Father of the Panama Canal".

- Edmund Winston Pettus, Confederate general who later became U.S. senator.

- Confederate General William J. Hardee.

- Catesby ap Roger Jones, commander of the Confederate ironclad Merrimac (or Virginia) and of the Confederate Naval Ordnance Works at Selma.

- Rev. Arthur Small, a Presbyterian minister who died in the Battle of Selma.

- Artist Clara Weaver Parris.

- Mrs. Harriet Hooker Wilkins who became the first woman elected to the Alabama Legislature in 1922.


Alabama Division Sons of Confederate Veterans

Selma Her Institutions And Her Men, John Hardy 1879

About the Author

Howard Watkins is the Webmaster and editor of Selma, Dallas County and Alabama history

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