African American Cemeteries Forum
Re: Mt. Carmel Cemetery, memphis tn
In Response To: Mt. Carmel Cemetery, memphis tn ()
To anyone interested in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee, it is located at the corner of Elliston and Bellevue (Elvis Presley Blvd.) in South Memphis. (Once you cross South Parkway Bellevue is renamed Elvis Presley Blvd.) Anyway, I believe that a previous poster stated the correct address. I was at the cemetery in October of 2006 and took a picture of the iron gate at the corner of Elliston and Bellvue which bears the name of the cemetery. There is a traffic light at the corner and houses facing the cemetery on Elliston. The cemetery stretches for several city blocks along Bellevue and borders on another cemetery (I believe the name is Rose Hill). There is an iron gate on the Bellevue side but not on the side facing Elliston (Elliston is a very short block and the cemetery only spans about a half a block on the Elliston side).
Sadly, the cemetery is poorly maintained and there is no longer an "office" there. In fact, I did not see a "grounds building" from where I stood. I drove into the cemetery on a narrow unpaved road. I was unable to see any paved roads or any roads that seemed to be wider than the compact rental car that I was driving. I walked around a little bit but not much because the ground was not level and I didn't want to fall or step into any holes. There were headstones of all sizes and all years all mixed in together such that I couldn't tell if I was in an old or new part of the cemetery. The headstones were facing in all different directions so I couldn't make sense of it.
I was last able to contact a live person on the grounds of Mt. Carmel in March of 2005. This lady actually worked for the cemetery and was able to look in the cemetery records and give me the grave location for my grandmother who was buried there in 1948. At that time, she was the only relative that I knew of to be buried there. This person told me that there had been a fire and some of the records had be burned but I'm not sure which years were lost. T.H. Hayes also handled the arrangements for my grandmother. They can tell you that your relative was buried there but would not likely have the section, division, row and grave number. Since 2005 the phone at the cemetery has been disconnected. I have since then discovered that I have about 25 or so other relatives buried there according to their death certificates.
The cemetery is owned by the Hollywood Cemetery Company. They own many cemeteries throughout the country. The cemetery is described as one of two "historically significant African-American cemeteries" in Memphis, the other being Hollywood Cemetery on Hernando Road near I-240. (In fact when I reached somebody in 2005 she answered the phone "Hollywood/Mt. Carmel". There are some famous folks buried there including Tom Lee who died in 1958 and is famous for saving 32 people from drowning in the Mississippi River in 1925. Also, Blues musician Walter "Furry" Lewis, who died in 1981 is buried there. You can access an article about the cemetery at www.memphisflyer.com. The article appeared online in the Memphis Flyer.
I contacted someone from the State of Tennessee, Robert Gribble, Executive Director,Funeral Board/Burial Services. He gave me the name of a contact at the Hollywood Cemetery Company named Carolyn F. Hayes (901) 544-0849. I have yet to reach her. He advised that the owners of the cemetery are responsible for the care and maintenance of the cemetery and the safekeeping of cemetery records and cited a state statute. I hope this helps.
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