A Special Place

The Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery was founded in 1882 by the Gospel Pilgrim Society, a fraternal organization, to furnish respectable funerals and burial places for Athens-area African Americans. Popular in the nineteenth century, such societies offset funeral costs and ensured a funeral procession and proper burial for members. The cemetery illustrates a Reconstruction-era departure in the black community from burial sites associated with specific churches. Gospel Pilgrim also contains fine examples of African-American funerary art. Approximately 3500 persons are buried here, including state legislator Madison Davis and nationally recognized folk artist Harriet Powers.