Canton’s first burying ground was started on September 10, 1831 and contained 24 lots. It was located at East and South of S.E. 27. 7N. 4E and West by the East line of S.W. 27 7N. 4E. This ground was located at the intersection of Union Street and First Street. After 1891, Union Street was renamed West Chestnut Street and First Street was renamed North Avenue B. This ground was later developed. No record has been found of a transfer of burial remains to any other burial ground.
The city’s next burial ground was the start of the current Greenwood Cemetery. It was located at Northwest quarter 34, 7N. 4E. Land records show that on March 8th, 1839, Nathan Jones and his wife Matilda sold for the sum of seventy dollars a plat of land that measures 16 rods square (1.6 acres) to a group of individuals. This land was to be designated by the Fulton County Commissioner as a public burying ground. This original plat contained 112 lots.
Greenwood Cemetery as it exists today was started by a group of men who called themselves the “Canton Cemetery Company.” Isaiah Stillman surveyed it on November 2, 1847 and gave the cemetery location as: South West corner of a North East one/quarter of Section 34 of Township 7 North, Range 4 East of the 4th. It contained 7.94 acres.
The Canton Cemetery Company was started as a profit-making venture. Cemetery lots were sold for $5.00 each. The business began with the original 7.94 acres. As more burial space was needed, the company purchased more small strips of land. The group approaced Mr. Patric Rafferty about acquiring his land for the cemetery. He refused to sell unless the group would agree to use a portion of the land for a Catholic Cemetery. The group agreed to this provision. St. Mary’s Cemetery was dedicated on October 6, 1872 and served as the Catholic burial ground until St. Joseph’s Cemetery was started in 1926. In 1881, all properties were deeded over to the City of Canton. An ordinance was passed on February 9, 1882 that stated the burial ground shall be called, “Greenwood Cemetery.”
A stroll through Greenwood Cemetery is a stroll through the history of the community. The people of Canton erected a memorial to Issac Swan, soldier, pioneed, and founder of the city, who died on June 18, 1835. Although he died before Greenwood Cemetery was established, his monument was erected on August 23, 1925. This monument is located on lot 12 in the original burying ground. It is here that Swan’s widow and her second husband, George W. Gould, are buried.
-adapted from text provided by past board member Gary Watson