Slave Cemetery

Slave Cemetery

Every year on the third Sunday in May, Haven Chapel United Methodist Church sets aside time to remember and honor the dead. In addition to the memorial service of remembrance, members and friends of the congregation visit the two gravesites to lay flowers on the graves, read scriptures, pray, and sing to pay tribute to their love ones who have transition from this life to be with the Lord. 

One gravesite known to the members of Haven Chapel as The Upper Cemetery, is the resting place of former slaves and freed black farm workers. Located off Raccoon Valley Road on private property, all of the graves are marked only by stones. Each year a descendant of the Herrell family, owners of the property, prepares for and welcomes our arrival each year. 

Only one slave grave is mark with a headstone, Elijah Knott, a former slave who once freed joined the Union Army during the Civil War.  Established as Haven Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in 1892, Elijah Knott is founder and first preacher of Haven Chapel United Methodist Church. A local historian, Leo York discovered details of Elijah’s life which led him to apply to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the marker, it was installed in 2016. Elijah died in 1915.

The second gravesite call by the members of the congregation as The Lower Cemetery is located on Raccoon Valley Road at the site where the church was rebuilt in 1945. Graves there include the Gadson family who are the ancestors of current members of the church and founders of Gadson Town, a community in Claxton, TN. The death dates of graves there are dated as early as 1904.

Haven Chapel United Methodist is located only few miles up the road from the cemeteries and look forward to making the annual pilgrimage to honor, remember, and celebrate the life and legacy of beloved family members and ancestors.