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Council approves grant for cemetery

The Confederate Cemetery on Miller Street is set for some sprucing up to make it more of a tourist attraction.

LaGrange City Council at its meeting Tuesday approved city staff to apply for a grant to improve the cemetery. The grant, which is considered to be a Tourism Product Development Agreement, is provided by the Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division and Georgia Council for the Arts.

The grant will be used to construct an entry plaza for the Confederate Cemetery, said Alton West, the city’s director of community development. The plaza will have reader placards that will detail the history of the cemetery and those buried there.

The Troup County Historical Society hired a mapping service to survey the cemetery last month. The service used ground-penetrating radar to detect a total 425 unmarked graves on the cemetery plot.

“We suspect those to be the graves of paupers, orderlies from the local hospital during the Civil War and even some slaves,” West said.

The grant will fund the purchase of metal disks that will be placed in the center of each one of the unmarked graves, which are currently marked by orange flags. The grant requires a 40 percent in-kind match from the city.

“The in-kind donations will come in the form of, perhaps, some improvements to the parking as far as handicap accessibility,” said West. “The grant will also cover the development of the land with the placards and readers. We will also be putting some additional lighting in the area.”

The grant submission deadline is June 30.

Among those buried at the cemetery is Horace King, a famous 19th century architect and bridge builder, who built dozens of bridges in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. He was born into slavery in South Carolina in 1807.

King became a prominent bridge architect and construction manager in the Chattahoochee Valley region of Alabama and Georgia before purchasing his freedom in 1846. King went on to construct latticed and trussed bridges in every major portion of the Chattahoochee River and and over every major river in the Deep South between the Oconee and Tombigbee rivers.

King has ties to LaGrange, and also has a street and a bridge named in his honor in the city.