KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – One of the oldest African American-dedicated cemeteries in Knoxville is getting a face lift thanks to some local nonprofits.
Established in the late 1800’s, the Odd Fellows Cemetery holds the bodies of many prominent city figures including Calvin Johnson, Knoxville’s first black millionaire, and former city alderman and 1876 Tennessee gubernatorial candidate William Yardley. But because of vegetation and vandalism over the years, 90% of the estimated 6,000 burial markers have been lost. But since 2009, the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition has been teaming up with other groups in the community for restoration projects at the cemetery. Over the past few weeks, they have joined forces with Canvas Can Do Miracles for a memorial project honoring those buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery. Both groups also created a stone garden in an area of the cemetery that is prone to flooding.
The Odd Fellows Cemetery is located at 2001 Bethel Avenue in East Knoxville. To learn more about projects at the Odd Fellows Cemetery, you can head to the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition Facebook page for more information.