Old Friendship Cemetery (Rocky Springs Cemetery), Old Trace Road, 1853

The Old Friendship Cemetery is listed as Rocky Springs Cemetery. It is located behind the Old Friendship Baptist Church on Old Trace Road, Marietta, off the Dallas Highway. The sign at the cemetery, reads in part “Cemetery Preservation” with Rocky Springs Cemetery below it.

The Old Friendship Baptist Church is the oldest black church in Cobb County and was organized in 1853 by slaves with the help of John Jennings on land donated by Mr. Jim Hardage, plantation owner. When he was freed, Rev. Jennings was given three aces of land by his former master. Here he would replace the brush arbor they were worshiping under with a log building. Part of the land would be set aside to be used as a cemetery.

The cemetery is the oldest black cemetery in Cobb County and has many fieldstone markers. It is not known exactly how many graves are located here. In 1991, an archaeologist survey was started by the Cobb County Preservation Commission which would locate over 325 graves at that time.

In 1991 Louise McMurtry, a member of the Old Friendship Baptist Church, led an initiative to clean, clear and document the old cemetery. This was when the Cobb County Preservation Commission stepped in to help.

One group of graves when uncovered revealed to be marked by an obelisk and were out lined in marble.

The first person to be buried there was an infant named Demetrius R. Sumlin. His birth date is not shown. He died on November 23, 1879. The headstone indicates he was the son of King and R. Sumlin and was 1 year, 1 month and 10 days old. (Thomas King Sumlin and Rachael A. Turner Sumlin).

The last burial was that of Roland Dobbs (1896-1981). Death certificate indicates he was about 85 years old and born about 1896. His wife was Ruth Williams Dobbs (1896-1965) and is also buried here.

Many of those buried here began worshiping with Rev. Jennings in 1853, helping him to build the church and community through the years. These are but a few of those church members and families. All were important in their own way and lives.

There are markers that only have names with no known birth or death date. Some may not have markers but are known to be buried in that grave or their family grave site.

V.M.C.; P.Et. Fan,Sr.; Jannie Fuster; Oscar Fuster; Carlton Griffin,Jr.;
Elizabeth Hope Gullet: Dolly Mae Harris; Eddie Harris; Ella Harris;
Georgia Harris; Henry Harris; Mary Harris; L.L.; Willie Mae Reece;
Chance Smith; Jannie William; John William and Isaac Williams.

There are always those whose birth date or death date is not known but may have their age inscribed on the marker.

Jessie Brooks (b-1838) age on maker listed as 75; Little Gail Bryant
(d-1964); P.Et. Fan, Sr (d-1888); Millie Harris (d-1909) age on marker
listed as 74 years; Mrs. Belva M. Henderson (d-1973) age on marker
listed as 65 and Mat McGurthy (d-1906) age on marker listed as 75.

Harriett Hawkins (1824-1922) 98 years old.

Lewis Williams (1829-1924) 95 years old.

Joe Harris (1844-1929) 85 years old. Husband of Ella Harris.

Eddie Gullett (1919-1938) farmer.

Hamp Griffith (1866-1924) common laborer.

Rosie Jennings (Dec 1888-Aug 1933) housekeeper.

Nathaniel Fuster (1922-1942) World War II.

Anna Roberts (1864-1896) wife of Alph Roberts

Ola Elizabeth Lee (1888-July 1933) housekeeping.

Ella Elizabeth Ross Blanchard (1860-1932) wife of Griffin Blanchard (1842-1927). Both buried here.

Then there is always the heartache of losing babies and young children, no matter how short or long their life was. Those, too are represented here to be remembered. Harris, Lee, Merritt, and Smith families.

Notes:

Old newspaper article from the Atlanta Daily Journal Life Style Section dated November 18, 1991 “Cobb cemetery needs a few fast cleanup workers” by Celelstine Sibley. Interviews with Louise McMurtry, member of Old Friendship Baptist Church and Betty Parker of the Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission. Archaeologist Carole Sneed handling the survey of the cemetery locating the graves.

The full article is on file at the Seven Springs Museum.

The cemetery is listed as Rocky Springs Cemetery on Find-a-grave. It does state that the cemetery is also known as Old Friendship Cemetery. They only list 72 ‘memorials’ or graves for the cemetery. The information is somewhat limited and not all have photos of markers. The web site is www.findagrave.com

Author: curator