Dunwoody’s historic New Hope Cemetery is somewhat hidden behind KinderCare Learning Center and next door to the offices of Arrow Exterminators and Coldwell Banker on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
The cemetery is the final resting place for many early settlers. A recent donation of New Hope Cemetery documents to Dunwoody Preservation Trust, in memory of Gene Allen Craven, is historically significant.
Eileen Ott, widow of Gene Allen Craven, brought the archive to Dunwoody Preservation Trust. The documents include two deeds from 1884, one from Georgia Duke and one from Washington Houston, the original donors of the land to be used as a cemetery. New Hope Presbyterian Reform Church sat in front of the cemetery.
In 1923, the property where the church was located was sold to Nance’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church, and New Hope became a Primitive Baptist Church. Eight years later, the Baptist church closed its doors and the building and land were sold to Dwight Kirby.
The archive also includes a plat of the cemetery, photographs and newspaper articles about a major cleanup of the cemetery that took place in 1983. Forty-nine people worked together to accomplish the clean-up and 11 dump trucks of debris were removed.
A group of trustees for the cemetery was established which included Gene Allen Craven. Other trustees named were Hugh Spruill, Paul B. Manning, Max Kirby, Henry Donaldson and Clarence Warbington. (DeKalb News Sun, “We Think It’s Important,” Vivian Price, 8/17/1983)
Gene Craven’s wife Oneedus Warbington Craven and Geraldine Warbington were among those who worked on the cemetery cleanup. There are several Warbingtons laid to rest at New Hope Cemetery. Oneedus Craven passed away in 1996.
Gene Allen Craven was born in 1928 in Yonah, Ga. He enlisted in the Navy at the young age of 16 in early 1945 and served in the Pacific Theater. He was aboard the USS William A. Mann, a troop transport ship. Craven continued to serve in the Navy through 1949.
Craven was on the USS William A. Mann in 1949 when Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Chiang Kai-Shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist government, his family and the last Marine battalion were brought out of China to safety in Taiwan aboard the USS William A. Mann.
Eileen Ott shared one of Craven’s memories from being on board the Mann. One evening he met and talked with Adm.Elmo Zumwalt and his dog Kate. The next morning, the admiral scuffed Craven’s shoes during review, a silent acknowledgement of their meeting the previous night. Zumwalt would later become Chief of Naval Operations.
Allen Craven started his own business, Craven Drywall, and worked on many of Dunwoody’s homes. He ran Craven Drywall for 40 years in Dunwoody, the Atlanta area, and throughout Georgia.
When the 1998 tornado came through Dunwoody, Allen Craven was living along Womack Road adjacent to Dunwoody High School. He was out helping others remove trees and debris caused by the tornado when he met Eileen Ott who lived in Lockridge Forest off Winters Chapel Road at the time.
They married and moved to Monticello, Ga., and began Timbuktu Farms, growing heirloom corn and vegetables. Craven also loved grafting and growing heirloom fruit trees. He saved an heirloom apple from extinction, which is now known as the Craven Red Crab Apple.
The box of New Hope Cemetery deeds and other documents will be stored in the Archives Room of Dunwoody Preservation Trust, located at Donaldson-Bannister Farm. These important New Hope Cemetery documents are a wonderful addition to the archives.