Etowah Historical Society

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Joseph Garner

Revolutionary War Soldier Buried in North Gadsden

 Recently there have been efforts made in cleaning up the old Garner Cemetery . The cemetery is located in a wooded area at the Northeast end of Washington Street . It is on a rocky hillside overlooking the Coosa River in North Gadsden .

The Garner Cemetery contains the only known Revolutionary War soldier's grave in Gadsden . His name is Joseph Garner. The cemetery was added February 27, 1978 to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. This is a prestigious listing of historic, architectural and archaeological landmarks.

In 1797 Joseph lived in Culpeper, Virginia , where he was paying on 286 acres of land formerly owned by a Hisle and he paid on this land for five years. Joseph enlisted in the 1st VA Regiment on 5 September 1775 and he was wounded the next spring at Williamsburg . In 1789 Joseph was 36 years old, he had been wounded in the arm as a private in the 1st Virginia Regiment, and his pay was 24 pounds per annum.

Joseph Garner enlisted in Fauquier County, Virginia, in Capt. William Blackwell's 11th Virginia Regiment. He was wounded at Brandywine. He also fought at Valley Forge and. was discharged at White Plains, N.Y.

He married Sarah Orr in 1790 and in 1802 moved to Clark County, Ga , as did his brother, Charles, also a veteran. He applied for a disability pension while in Georgia in 1818.

In 1820 Joseph Garner moved into St. Clair County in the new state of Alabama . In 1821 his property consisted of "one sow and four pigs, one pot, two axes, two old weeding hoes, two feather beds and furniture valued at $21.50. His age was about 65."

When Joseph moved to Georgia , he entrusted his pension certificate to a friend who was to collect and send the money to him. But by 1819 the friend has moved "to parts unknown." Joseph had to reestablish his identity with the aid of Judge (later Chief Justice) John Marshall, who had been his lieutenant in the war. He was paid 10 lbs. per annum as a pensioner. Thomas Page and John Marshall both confirmed Joseph’s service record in a letter in 1819.

There was difficulty because he was "Joseph Gardner" on the pension roll, but he finally did show he was the same person. His payments were transferred to St. Clair Co Al, in 1824 and to Cherokee Co Al when it was created.

Daughters Malinda and Rosa married into the Burger Family. Rosa 's family moved to what is now Tillison Bend.

The main road in which is now North Gadsden was the old High Town Path often known as the Turkey Town Road, an Indian way through Chief Turkey's Town. The body of the Cherokees had been forcibly removed as white settlers poured in. Some however remained and were still watering their horses at "the spring" near the Garner home place.

In 1850, a plat was entered by Joseph Garner’s son, Joseph Garner II, although the family was already living there in 1840. In 1889 this land was old outside the family, with the exception of the "family burial ground" and right of access. It was divided into lots and called the Riverview Addition.

The cemetery gradually became public with the mining boom of the 1800s. But the boom did not last. By 1923, the cemetery was beginning to run down. It once was beautiful and people liked it so much they kept burying past the original plat.

Presently, it consists of 1.3 acres, virtually unchanged since the early 1920s. Tax records show only Lots 92 and 93 as cemetery all the way back to the original division, which gives the location of the Garner family plot.

The old Joseph Garner homestead was near a spot where a small schoolhouse was later built. The school is gone being replaced by a Presbyterian church, and now the Abounding Grace Baptist Church stands in the vicinity of the first house. It is believed the house was torn down in 1924.

The second Joe Garner lived in a two-story house on what is now the St. James School playground. The spring which was down the hill is covered by Furnace Pond which is now covered by the backed-up Coosa River .

On Dec. 20, 1840 the old soldier died. Three day later the couple would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Francis Garner, son of the second Joseph, died in Savannah in 1864. Another son, John, died at Deep Bottom, Va. in 1864. Both were Confederate soldiers.

The youngest son of the Revolutionary soldier, John, married Elizabeth Tillison in 1844. She was the daughter of Spencer Tillison and sister of William S. Tillison, pioneers in Tillison Bend.

In 1852 Sarah Garner, widow of Joseph Garner, filed a statement, regarding her pension, in which she names the children, living at that time. These are:

1. Malinda Burger

2. Rosia (Rosanna) Burger, wife of Jacob Burger

3. Sophia Goodwin

4.  Sally (Sarah) White, wife of Stephen White

5. Gilford Garner, ( m. Polly Caddell)

6. Joseph Garner, (m. Lydia Margaret Caddell)

7. John Garner (m. Elizabeth Tillison)


Joseph Garner was the son of Charles (b: 1724 in Stafford Co, Virginia) and Ann Darnell Garner, (b: 1716 in King George Co, Virginia) who died in Clarke Co. Ga. .  They were married in 1769 at Fauquier Co, Virginia

Joseph’s siblings were:

1. Jale Garner, never married

2. Elizabeth Garner, m.__Robbins

3. Ann Garner, m. Jacob Burger

4. Charles Garner, m. Hannah.

5.  Presley Garner, m. Margaret Hinson






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The Etowah

Historical Society

 P.O. Box 8131

Gadsden, AL 35902

(Physical address at

2829 W. Meighan Blvd.)


Danny Crownover






Officers & Board Members

President ...........................Danny Crownover

1st Vice President ..................Traci Pondick

2nd Vice President ............Sharyon Ramsey

Recording Secretary ...........John McFarland

Corresponding Secretary ..Molly Cheatwood

Treasurer ............................Gorden Maddox

Historian .................................Patsy Hanvey

Devotional ...........Gennie McDaniel Dawson




The Society meets every 2nd Friday night each month at Elliott Community Center, corner of 29th Street & Meighan Blvd. at 6:00pm.

Each month we have an enjoyable presentation and refreshments.

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