Russell County cemetery brought back to life

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By Toni Stauffer

The Alexander-Abercrombie Cemetery lies on the corner of Abercrombie Road and Brickyard Road, across from the Pine Hollow landfill in Phenix City. Before October 2015, most people wouldn’t even know the cemetery existed, buried beneath a layer of earth and trees after years of neglect. Now the cemetery is visible once more since local general contractor Kenneth Alexander, owner of Alexander Brothers Home Improvement, decided to take action. His parents and many other family members are buried in the cemetery.

“When I was a child, my parents and some of my relatives told me that the property out here was donated by the Bickerstaff family,” Alexander said. “They would come out and try to keep the cemetery clean and what not […]” In time, the cemetery appeared to have fallen behind on maintenance as the older generation died. “That’s how it got started, because we needed a place to bury people in the community,” Alexander said.

Having served in the military as a Staff Seargent, Alexander felt driven to help his community. He began a committee that currently consists of 10 community members who pay $75 membership dues each year for burial rights.

The fees go toward maintenance and utilities, repairs for damaged graves, grounds upkeep, and Phase 2 development. Members who do not wish to pay a monthly fee can purchase a plot for $800, which is good for 10 years. The cost of a lifetime burial plot is $1,400, but these prices may be subject to change in the future once renovation is complete. Alexander estimates another six to seven months until completion. He has used his own personal finances to purchase supplies, equipment, and to hire workers who help to clear land, replace slabs, build a perimeter and other necessary tasks. Alexander brought a large trailer in which now serves as a reception area and caretaker’s office.

The cemetery is home to approximately 350 graves and sits on 13 acres with 8-1/2 acres having been generously donated by Russell County. Many of the markers were inscribed by hand and the oldest marker appears to be about 80 years old, though there are graves which are about 150 years old. There are still graves hidden by bushes and trees that need to be torn out, but Alexander will get the work done so that families can visit once more and others in the community will have a final resting place with their ancestors.