Myrtle Hill Cemetery | Rome, Georgia
Myrtle Hill Cemetery, the second oldest cemetery in Rome, covers 32 acres on 6 terraces and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is located on Myrtle Hill, one of the seven hills of the city and named for the myrtle, or vinca, that once grew wild all over the hillside.
The location of Myrtle Hill itself has a long history. Rome city officials maintain that “for over 100 years, Myrtle Hill has served as a guardian overlooking the City of Rome. Located at the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers where the mighty Coosa River is formed, Myrtle Hill has seen many significant dates in history.”
Long before Rome was incorporated as a town and Myrtle Hill had a name, it was the site of the 1793 Battle of Etowah. U.S. Army General John Seiver and his 800 men chased 1,000 Cherokees, who had scalped and killed 13 people at Cavett’s Station in Tennessee, to the present day Myrtle Hill, where the Cherokees had built a defensive position. A battle ensued, and the army troops killed many of the Cherokees, including Chief King Fisher.
During the Civil War, the citizens of Rome built three earthen forts to defend the town from the Union Army. The fort constructed on the crest of Myrtle Hill was named Fort Stovall, and it was very instrumental in the Siege of Rome.
Today, Myrtle Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 20,000 people, including America's Known Soldier, World War I soldier Charles Graves; former First Lady Ellen Axon Wilson, a Rome native and wife of President Woodrow Wilson; and 377 soldiers, both from the north and the south.
Although the merging of two rivers to form one river is common in Georgia, it is unusual to have the opportunity to witness such an occurrence without being in a boat on the water. Touring Myrtle Hill Cemetery is interesting any time of year, but in winter, when trees are bare, the highest point in the cemetery is a good vantage point to see the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers merge to form the Coosa. For a view of this take Broad Street to South Broad Street and the Myrtle Hill Cemetery entrance. A closer view of the same confulence is available from the 2nd Avenue pedestrian bridge (take Broad Street to 2nd Avenue).