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South Hall cemetery gets historic designation
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Lorene Veal, left, and Teresa Owens visit the Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery Monday morning in South Hall. Veal and Owens' efforts have helped the cemetery get recognized by the Georgia Register of Historic Places. Residents who pushed for the designation say they are still waiting to hear if it makes the National Register of Historic Places. - photo by Scott Rogers

A South Hall cemetery with graves dating to 1854 has been added to the Georgia Register of Historic Places.

“I’m excited that it’s been recognized by the state,” said Teresa Owens, a Friendship Road resident who has done research and pushed for the designation.

“It is one of the oldest cemeteries in this area. It represents the earlier pioneers who came in and helped build up this area.”

Next up could be the National Park Service’s placement of the 1.53-acre Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery off Friendship Road/Ga. 347 on the National Register of Historic Places.

She said the state submitted the cemetery, which sits across the six-lane Ga. 347 from what is now Friendship Community Baptist Church, for the national designation in late August.

“I’m not sure how long it takes for them to (decide) on it,” Owens said.

Allison Asbrock, a Georgia Historic Preservation Division spokeswoman, couldn’t be reached for comment. The Historic Preservation Division is part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“The cemetery has a variety of funerary art representing early 19th to mid-20th century markers found in church cemeteries in Georgia,” a DNR press release states.

Also, it is associated “with the early settlement of (the) area after Hall and Gwinnett counties were formed in 1818 from portions of Jackson County.”

The state goes on to say that a 2016 archeological survey of the cemetery “noted the potential for unmarked graves … and church history and records indicate that there are many.”

Otherwise, “there’s nothing really remarkable about the cemetery,” Owens said. “It’s just the age of it and some of the (headstones) represent some of the earlier designs they used on markers.”

The cemetery certainly has significance for area resident Chris Puckett, who has several generations of ancestors buried there.

“Anything to preserve the history and bring some recognition to the (cemetery) is a good thing,” he said.

The cemetery got some unwanted attention with Tropical Storm Irma, which whipped through the area Sept. 11.

A large hickory tree fell, damaging or pushing over a couple of headstones, Puckett said.

“It didn’t do as much damage as I thought it would do,” he said.

Still, Owens lamented the event, as the tree that fell was the biggest one in the cemetery.

A tree company plans to remove it but “is still working with the cleanup in Florida,” she said.

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Friendship Community Baptist Church Cemetery in the Friendship community of South Hall has been added to Georgia Register of Historic Places. Residents who pushed for the designation say they are still waiting to hear if it makes the National Register of Historic Places. - photo by Scott Rogers
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