JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The historic Macedonia Cemetery off Medlock Bridge Road officially has a new owner.
On Nov. 16, the Johns Creek City Council unanimously approved a measure to acquire the historic property which served as the final resting place for members and family of the Macedonian Methodist African Church.
In recent years, the city had been responsible for maintenance, but the ownership of the abandoned property was up in the air.
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Under the city's ownership, this historic property has potential to be a memorial to those buried there and also serve as preserved green space for residents.
“I think acquiring this property and getting it the proper maintenance and infrastructure it deserves is crucial for our city,” City Councilman Chris Coughlin said.
The city will work to acquire the property through eminent domain, a process by which a government can take ownership of property in the public good. The law provides that the government may only exercise this power if it provides just compensation to the property owners— in this case approximately $52,200 from the land acquisition accrual fund. The money will be kept in the Fulton County Superior Court and forwarded to the state if no owner can be identified.
The city believes the Macedonian Methodist African church took ownership of this property back in the turn of the 20th century, and over time, constructed a church and began to use part of the property as a cemetery. Over the years, the congregation dwindled, and the church and the graveyard fell into disrepair. The church has since been demolished and removed.
The disrepair in the cemetery area has resulted in vandalism and moving of headstones. Currently, as required by state law, the city conducts mere maintenance of the cemetery but, once the land is acquired, they will work to preserve the historic site.
The property, approximately 2 acres, is located near the intersection of State Bridge Road and Medlock Bridge Road. It is home to some 105 to 114 marked and unmarked graves. The Johns Creek Historical Society has worked to identify over 50 of the people buried at this site.
At least two of those identified were enslaved, and others buried there were first and second generation descendants of slaves on local farms. As names are being identified, genealogy research is beginning. That research is starting to show relationships between those buried on the site and insights into the life they led.
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The Johns Creek Historical Society is currently working to repair some of the headstones found on the property. Through donations from Kirk Canaday, a board member of the Historical Society, the group has already made repairs and reseated the headstones of R.L. Parsons and April Waters, a former slave.
There are more headstones to be repaired, and the Johns Creek Historical Society is asking for donations to continue the work. For more information visit johnscreekhistory.org.
The nonprofit is also looking for those who might remember or have been a member of the Macedonia Church. If you have information or memories of the Macedonia Cemetery and those buried there or its church, members and pastors, please contact email@example.com.
The pandemic has slowed down the process of the courts, but city officials believe that everything will be settled with this acquisition in the middle of next year.
“I think our ability to be able to honor the legacy of those who met their fate and are buried in the cemetery will live on beyond this,” Mayor Mike Bodker said. “So I'm certainly glad that we did this.”