Memorials to United States Colored Troops, Pt. 3 – Atlanta, Georgia

Memorials to United States Colored Troops

A photo-essay series dedicated to the United States Colored Troops, and how they were remembered in contemporary news media

Pt. 3

Atlanta, Georgia

South-View Cemetery

Grave of Cpl George “Union” Wilder – Co. F, 137th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry. The inscription includes his name, the symbol of three links, representing affiliation with the Order of Odd Fellows, his age, and “A soldier of the Civil War/was killed in the riot/ of Atlanta Sept. 26, 1906”


“One of the dead negroes killed in the Brownsville fight Monday night, and up to this time unknown, has been identified as George Wilder, 70 years old.” — Atlanta Journal Constitution, September 26, 1906

(Photo: Nadia K. Orton, February 15, 2012)



Grave of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Chaplain, 1st. U. S. Colored Infantry


Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915). Library of Congress


“The funeral of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, senior bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who died at Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, May 8, will take place at Big Bethel Church, this city, on Wednesday, May 19. The remains will lay in state the day preceding the funeral. Nearly all of the bishops of the church, the general offices and many ministers are expected to be in attendance.

Bishop Turner was born in South Carolina in July, 1833. He learned his alphabet when he was nine years of age and while working for a firm of lawyers at Abbeville, S. C., was taught to read. He studied under the tutelage of his employers, history, literature and other subjects. When quite a young man he was ordained a minister of the M. E. Church, South. He later joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was appointed to a charge in Baltimore by the late Bishop Daniel A. Payne. While in Baltimore he studied languages and the higher branches.

First Colored Army Chaplain

During part of the Civil War he was pastor of what is now known as Metropolitan Church, Washington. President Lincoln appointed him the first colored chaplain in the Negro troops enlisted during the war. When the colored troops were established after the war, President Johnson appointed him a chaplain in the regular army. He soon resigned, however, and organized the work of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia.

He was elected manager of the publication department of the church in 1876, serving until his elevation to the bishopric in 1880. He organized the work of the denomination in Africa, as well as annual conferences in this country. He had served as a member of the legislature in Georgia and of constitutional conventions in that state. He was considered one of the most forceful characters in his denomination.

Bishop Turner was married three times. His second wife was the late Mrs. Harriett Wayman, of Baltimore, widow of Bishop Alexander Wayman. His third wife, Mrs. Laura Lemon Turner, and two sons, Jonathan and David Turner, survive.” —The New York Age, May 13, 1915


Ledger grave of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

“TURNER – Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, February 1, 1834-May 9, 1915 – Grandson of an African Prince/Bishop Presiding Elder, Pastor/Chaplain (U.S. Army), State Senator (Georgia)/Organizer and Builder of the/African Methodist Episcopal Church/In Georgia, West and South Africa/Missiologist, Publisher, Activist Theologian/And Heroic Christian/

Noble and Indomitable Spirit/Rest In Peace/May God Bless

Erected by the Women’s Missionary Society/Sixth District — A.M.E. Church/June 1996/Rev. Augusta H. Hall, Jr. Archivist/Mrs. Edith W. Ming, Supervisor/Bishop Donald G. K. Ming, Presiding Prelate/


“VAST HOST PAY TRIBUTE TO LATE BISHOP TURNER – Seldom has a larger crowd witnessed a funeral here than the one that saw the sad last rites paid to Bishop Henry M. Turner at Big Bethel A. M. E. Church today.

Bishops of the church, general officers and visiting ministers were here to pay a last tribute of respect to the man that organized the work in Georgia, but whose influence is seen in the work being done by denomination in West and South Africa and in various sections of the United States.

The services were conducted by Bishop James S. Flipper, of this city. He paid a splendid tribute to the life of the deceased prelate. Others taking part in the services included: Bishops C. S. Smith, Levi J. Coppin, William D. Chappelle, Joshua H. Jones, H. B. Parks, B. F. Lee, C. T. Shaffer and J. M. Conner. The following bishops were unable to be present: Evans Tyree, who is presiding over the sessions of the Philadelphia Conference at Dover, Del.; J. Albert Johnson, who is in South Africa; W. H. Heard who is in West Africa, and John Hurst, who is visiting the work of the denomination in South America and the West Indies.

Telegrams of condolence and resolutions from various religious bodies eulogized the deceased bishop.

Many were the tribute paid by prominent whites here when they heard that the prelate was dead.

As was told THE AGE last week, Bishop Turner died in Windsor , Ont.; on May 8. He was born in South Carolina 83 years ago, and enjoyed the distinction of having been the first colored man appointed to a chaplaincy in the United States Army. He was elected a bishop in 1880 and had his funeral occurred one day later it would have been on the thirty-fifth anniversary of his elevation to the episcopacy.” — The New York Age, May 20, 1915

(Photos: Nadia K. Orton, February 15, 2012)

In Memoriam: Alonzo Franklin Herndon, South-View Cemetery

Alonzo F. Herndon Gravestone South-View Cemetery Atlanta

Alonzo Franklin Herndon (1858-1927). South-View Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Alonzo F. Herndon,

Alonzo F. Herndon.

New York Age – July 30 1927

Alonzo Herndon, Wealthy Atlanta Man, Died July 21
From Barber to Insurance Head and Millionaire

Atlanta, Ga. – After an illness that lasted through several months Alonzo F. Herndon, president of the Atlanta Life Insurance Co., died at his late residence, 1 University place near Atlanta University on Thursday night July 21, aged 69 years, leaving an estate estimated at near $1,000,000.

Mr. Herndon came to Atlanta in 1882, and laid the foundation of his fortune by working at his trade as a barber. He later bought control of the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Co, an industrial benefit organization, which was expanded under his management into the Atlanta Life, a regular straight line insurance company.

New York Age, July 30 1927

New York Age, July 30 1927

Wise and conservative investments in Atlanta real estate contributed toward the building of his fortune. He was also president of the Southview Cemetery Association, providing a burial ground for members of his race.

He was born at Social Circle, a few miles from Atlanta, in 1858, and stayed there until 1882. Within three years, he was operating his own barber shop, and he was located first on Whitehall street in the old Markham House; then he moved to Marietta street and in 1902 he opened the shop at 66 Peachtree street the present main shop. He employed 42 barbers, and served only white customers.

Caused Repeal of Law

Herndon Barber Shop, 1903. Atlanta History Center

Herndon Barber Shop, 1903. Atlanta History Center

As an evidence of the esteem in which he was held by the white citizens of Atlanta, it is said that when the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance barring Negro barbers from shaving white patrons Mr. Herndon’s white friends were leaders in the reaction which led to repeal of the ordinance.

Mr. Herndon was active in all matters that pertained to the welfare of Atlanta, and was linked with much of the city’s early history. When the Community Chest was established, he became a large subscriber, and his contribution for 1926 was $1,200.

Alonzo Herndon with mother and brother 1890

Alonzo Herndon (left) with brother Thomas, and mother, Sophenie, ca. 1890. Of his mother, Herndon noted “(she) was emancipated when I was seven years old and my brother Tom five years old. She was sent adrift in the world with her two children and a corded bed and [a] few quilts. . . . She hired herself out by the day and as there was money in the country, she received as pay potatoes, molasses, and peas enough to keep us from starving.” – Georgia Encyclopedia and the Herndon Home.

Without relinquishing his barbering interests, Mr. Herndon years ago, foresaw a prosperous future for the insurance proposition and when the opportunity offered took over the Atlanta Mutual. He surrounded himself with capable staff and although he found some of the officials were inclined to try to unduly enrich themselves at his expense, his native wit and sturdy common sense enabled him to discover these attempt in time so that serious losses were prevented.

Today the company has offices in eight states, with 700 employees in the various offices.

Built Magnificent Home

Herndon Home, 1 University Place, Atlanta Ga.

Herndon Home, 1 University Place, Atlanta Ga.

He attracted country-wide attention, some 15 years or more ago, by building what was at that time the most spacious and most costly mansion owned and occupied by a colored family in Georgia, possibly the whole South. An unusual feature of the structure was a small but completely equipped theatre auditorium, with state, dressing rooms, curtains and other paraphernalia. This was for the pleasure of his first wife, the former Miss Adrienne McNeil of Augusta and Sarienne McNiel of Augusta and Savannah, who was head of the department of elocution at Atlanta University and herself a talented and trained dramatic reader.

It was a tragedy that Mrs. Herndon died just as the home was being finished leaving one son, Norris Herndon.

Besides this home Mr. Herndon owned a large parcel of property. (From The New York Age, July 30, 1927).

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