Sparta Cemetery History
Historical marker in Sparta Cemetery
Sparta Cemetery was originally owned by the Methodist Church of Sparta, the town's first church. The church was established about the time that Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury first preached a sermon in Sparta on December 1, 1801. During the preceding decade, Asbury had traveled through Georgia and the southeast, spreading Methodism among new settlers. Though he was in the vicinity of Hancock County as early as 1791, Asbury did not actually enter the county until December of 1800, when he preached a sermon at Smyrna.
In 1802, David Clement donated some land and $250 for the construction of a Methodist meeting house in Sparta, though the building was apparently not completed until 1805. A simple frame structure, the church was intended for use by whites as well as their slaves and was located in a portion of Sparta Cemetery almost directly across Hamilton Street from the present Pierce Memorial Methodist Church. In 1874, the original church building was enlarged and a vestibule was added across the front with a bell tower at the center. The first church survived until it was burned Feb. 3, 1910 (per Atlanta Constitution, 1910). The original site was subsequently utilized for burials.
Burials were never limited to Methodists, however, and the Sparta Cemetery was established as a community cemetery in the same year (1805) as Sparta's incorporation. The oldest gravestone is that of Peter Temple (1750-1802), a Revolutionary War soldier, but it is not known if his grave was part of the Methodist Church burials or if his grave was moved to the cemetery at a later date. There are three other marked graves with dates prior to 1810 in section A, and other marked graves prior to 1820 are found in sections A and D.
The original boundary of Sparta Cemetery was expanded in the early 1930s, with new space added to the east of the original boundary as well as to the north and northwest. Sparta Cemetery is now 9.76 acres and is still an active cemetery. The cemetery is currently divided into approximately 650 lots for burial, with approximately 2200 recognizable graves. The cemetery is currently owned and maintained by the Sparta Cemetery Association, which is a separate entity from this web site.