Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery (Old)

Location
Bethel Church Road
Ralph, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, 35480 USA
Memorials 23 added (83% photographed)

Search Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery (Old):

In the early 1830s, two Baptist Churches (Buck's Creek and Grant's Creek) were established near Ralph, AL. Apparently, there was insufficient membership to support the Grant's Creek Church which was located north of Ralph. The two churches merged in 1836 and changed their name to Bethel Baptist Church - they chose to consolidate in the original Buck Creek structure.

Per deed details, the original church property consisted of three 1-acre plots (~210 feet on each side) located just 'down the hill' from the current church location. There are still a few tombstones visible (George located 13 total during a short visit in Feb2016) in the old graveyard. Further, the original 'superhighway' from Tuscaloosa passed through Ralph and Knoxville to points further south. That old roadbed (10 feet wide, still 2-3 feet deep) passed through the original Bethel Church property and is still readily visible in many areas in the vicinity of Ralph.

The original Bethel Church was organized in 1836 - the church property straddled the old road. Per a Tuscaloosa newspaper article, the original structure was destroyed by a tornado in 1856. The church building was rebuilt and meetings continued in this location through ~1880. At that point (perhaps when the original Shiloh Road was opened), Bethel membership moved the Church building and cemetery to their current location atop Bethel Hill. Unfortunately, the original site was abandoned and is now covered in heavy woods and thorny underbrush.

Based on rate of burials in the early 1900s in Bethel Cemetery, estimate there were at least 100 burials in the original Bethel Church Cemetery between 1836 and 1880. However, the soil is acidic and any tombstone not carved from granite or marble is unlikely to be legible today. Evidence suggests that at least seven tombstones in Bethel Cemetery were relocated from the old cemetery to the new cemetery sometime after 1890. Any individual buried at Bethel Cemetery whose tombstone has a burial date prior to 1880 was likely buried in the original cemetery and the tombstone relocated to its current location at a later date.

In Feb2017, George Collier explored the area from the small power substation located along Bethel Church Road for about 100yds uphill toward the few remaining tombstones. There is a gentle slope facing south for most of this distance. George found the footing treacherous because there must 50 depressions along this hillside which are what one would expect from collapsed graves. George was unable to identify any tombstones along this slope.

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GPS Coordinates: 33.0358, -87.7819

  • Added: 20 Feb 2016
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2604448