The Harlem Memorial Cemetery is the burial site of Oliver Hardy, father of movie star Oliver Norvel Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame. Ollies half-brother, George M. Hardy, and half-sister Lillian Hardy Benton, also are buried in Harlem.
The first person buried in the Harlem Cemetery was Mrs. T.G. Cook in the year 1879. She was the wife of Thomas Cook, who was and engineer on the railroad. There is no marker indicating where the grave is located.
In the year 1880, the cemetery was laid out and surveyed to keep it in order with the sale of lots. It is conveniently located on the south end of Bell Street and bordered by Keener Street, with a second entrance from Hatcher Street.
Beautiful trees once were plentiful throughout the cemetery. Some of the old cedar and magnolia trees remain.
There are a variety of magnificent tombstones, some ornate and others very simple. Some of the graves are marked only with a few bricks that have been scattered through the years, and then there are some with nothing at all to mark them.
There are veterans from many conflicts laid to rest in the Harlem Cemetery, and their markers indicate the war in which they were involved. Some of the older stones are worn with time and may be a little difficult to read.
Visitors to the Harlem Cemetery may recognize some of the names from the past, perhaps some of the founders or others who played an important role in Harlems history. Harlems first mayor, Dr. Andrew J. Sanders, is buried in the cemetery. He was born in February 1837, and died in August 1895. He served nine years as mayor.
The gazebo located near the Bell Street entrance was placed in the cemetery in 1988 as a memorial to Eulie and Ellie Phillips Lansdell and to Helen Lansdell Davey. The building with its engraved plaque was given by Grace L. Clark, Jean L. Stephany and Aileen L. McKinley.
A very attractive metal picket fence now encloses the cemetery. Funds to complete this project were given by Eugene M. Clary, who was born in and attended school in Harlem. He now resides in Marietta.
The cemetery is under perpetual care, and the entrances are open for those who care to visit.
(Bette Sargent is a Harlem historian.)
Correction: A recent column by Bette Sargent contained several editing errors. The column regarding Emily Campania Leigh should have noted that she died in 1830; her birth name was Emily Campania Shaw, and she married Benjamin Leigh.
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