Past Tense

A cemetery can tell more than just when people were born and when they died. Sometimes it can tell you what a person did, maybe one of their interests and what kind of family they had. We have several historic cemeteries, but one of them is located in the heart of Dunwoody. It is the New Hope Cemetery, located off Chamblee Dunwoody Road, behind the KinderCare Learning Center.

The oldest marker in the cemetery belongs to William Weldon, who died in 1887. Mr. Weldon was the father of Sarah Weldon, who married Confederate soldier Thomas Conaway. Conaway was from Alabama but settled in Dunwoody after the war ended. He is not the only Confederate soldier buried in the cemetery. J. W. Fitts is identified as a Confederate soldier and William Warnock was a Dunwoody soldier, although his marker does not indicate it.

Other war veterans are identified by their headstones. There is Homer Warnock, a veteran of World War I and Gene Noah Sullivan, a veteran of World War II. Some men have epitaphs describing them as being Masons.

In 1853, a church was established at this site. It was known as Providence Baptist Church and the members met in a log cabin. Civil War maps do not show the name Dunwoody, but rather Providence. Following the war, it was believed that a location more central to Sandy Springs and Dunwoody would bring more members so the Providence congregation moved near the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Glenridge Drive. The New Hope Presbyterian Church was built on the Chamblee Dunwoody Road land lot around 1887.

An 1888 deed shows that the property where the cemetery is located belonged to the Duke family at that time, but was donated to the church for the purpose of the cemetery. The Duke family also owned land in the triangle that is formed at the fork of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Roberts Drive. Their home place once sat in that triangle. The deed was signed by Georgia Duke and witnessed by Dr. Warren M. Duke and J. R. Russell, clerk of DeKalb County at the time. Dr. Duke was the much loved local doctor for the community of Dunwoody.

An article by Vivian Price, written in 1983 for the DeKalb News Sun newspaper, tells of a major cleanup done at the cemetery. It had become very overgrown at the time, and Dunwoody resident Geraldine Warbington led the cleanup project. Eleven dump truck loads of debris were carried away. When all the work was complete, Hugh Spruill said the cemetery looked the best it had in 50 years.

Since that time, a fund to maintain the cemetery was set up by some long time Dunwoody families and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust ensures that the funds are used for that purpose. The title of the 1983 article was “We Think It’s Important” and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust still believes that to be true.

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