A Look Into the Past
Have you ever wondered how Riverview Cemetery in downtown Canton came to be, or how its history may be linked to your ancestors? The Riverview Cemetery Association gave us the inside scoop on this historic, privately managed cemetery, tucked away on 6 acres of sacred green space, behind the old Canton Methodist Church.
The oldest section of the cemetery is the hillside to the left of the church. It is thought that this land was given to the city for the sole purpose of creating a burial place for residents. The earliest documented burial here is that of an infant, Susan Moss, in 1844. It contains the tallest monument, that of Thomas Hutcherson, which was broken while being moved into place by a wagon. It was then taken back to the mill and made 15 feet shorter than the original. This area contains graves of many of Canton’s important early families, including the Galt, Garrison (Captain Nehemiah showing a birthdate of 1776), Johnston, Putnam, McCanless and Teasley families, to name a few.
To the right of the church, R.T. Jones, the head of the Canton Cotton Mills and the Jones Mercantile Company, has a plot, with a large granite monument, for his family. North of this area, Judge James Brown, brother to Georgia Gov. Joseph E. Brown, is believed to have donated land. A slate rock and stone wall is located here, enclosing the Brown family plot. Also located in this section is the beautiful, life-sized angel monument on the Thomas Brady plot.
Adjoining property to the west of the original cemetery was developed by W.L. Blackwell, who was given power of attorney over the property in May, 1923. Until that time, the cemetery was known as Town Cemetery, but deeds from Blackwell call it River-View Cemetery. Later, the area adopted the name Riverview. Records from these sales are scarce.
By 1990, when the Canton Methodist Church broke ground for its move to a new location, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair. The Riverview Cemetery Association was formed so that the cemetery could be preserved and protected.
Riverview has more than 1,000 tombstones marking the graves of the souls buried there. It is the resting place of veterans serving in the Civil War, World War I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam and other conflicts. At least five members of the Georgia General Assembly are buried in the cemetery, as well as two Superior Court judges.
Recent use of ground-penetrating radar located 356 unmarked graves, which have been marked with a 3-inch stainless steel disc. Directory files are available at www.riverviewcemeterycanton.org. A map that will help people locate their ancestors is coming soon. Check the website for updates.
– Riverview Cemetery is a domestic nonprofit Georgia corporation, with 501(c)(13) recognition, that is dependent on donations for cemetery upkeep. The association’s contact information is available on the website. If you have a relative in Riverview, provide the name of your relative and your contact information on the email form. The association would love to help you reconnect to your roots!
Tales From Beyond the Grave
In the spirit of Halloween, we wanted to learn more about some of the ghost stories that have been shared around Canton. In a small town with this much history, it isn’t surprising that some residents might have chosen to linger after they passed on. Riverview Cemetery is rumored to be the source of unexplained encounters downtown, but there are plenty of historic buildings that are reputed to play host to ghosts. From the historic, marble Cherokee County Courthouse to Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services Station 16, and everywhere in between, Canton is full of history and tales of spirits.
“I used to work in the basement of the historic courthouse building on Main Street. One winter night, I worked late and had to go back in to grab something I’d left on my desk. I went in through the back door, and as I was walking along the corridor, looking down at my phone, I nearly bumped into a gentleman wearing dark, leather work boots. All I saw were the boots. I jumped and said ‘Excuse me,’ to empty air. There was no one else in the corridor. Can’t explain it to this day.” — Tamarin G.
“I worked at Station 16 for 10 years total. When I first started working there, everyone would tell me, ‘This place is haunted; weird stuff happens.’ I dismissed it, until one evening, about 10 minutes past 5 p.m., I was sitting in one of three recliners, with two other firemen, the backs of our chairs facing the windows and door. We were pointed toward the upstairs staircase. Everyone else in the building had left for the day. But, then, we heard the stairs squeaking. The sound was distinctive, we all knew that the steps creaked when you walked up and down them. It sounded like someone was going up the stairs, the sound getting fainter as they went up. There was no one walking on the stairs, but the sound resonated. Squeak, squeak, tap, tap, tap.”— Michael “Sid” Williams
If you’re interested in learning more about Canton’s history and haunts, take a trip back in time through downtown Canton on a two-hour guided walking tour, with Canton Historic Haunts. The family-friendly tours are offered summer through fall, and are sure to captivate and surprise you. Visit https://cantonhaunts.com for more information. And, if you have any spooky stories you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.