At one time or another, there were steps leading into the Furnace-Goodson Cemetery, a family burial ground off Wilderness Camp Road with graves dating as far back as the early 1800s. Twenty-five of Bartow’s earliest families are buried here including Jacob Stroup, an industrialist that brought the iron industry to then-Cass County.
Stroup moved here in 1836 to take advantage of the area’s rich iron reserves. He built the first blast furnace on Stamp Creek and two more earning him the moniker “Iron Master.”
Most of the graves are covered in dense undergrowth. In a few places the remains of a wrought iron fence can be seen.
Briars etch into the skin of anyone visiting Stroup’s grave. A tumbledown pile of stones litter the path and on a bigger one, someone painted “sacreat [sic] to the memeory [sic] of iron master Jacob Stroup, born 1771-died 1846.”
“This man is one of the pioneer families of Bartow County,” said Vicki W. Crowe, owner of Bartow Ancestors Inc., “And look at his grave. It’s all overgrown to the point of being virtually impenetrable.”
According to Crowe, Bartow has 11 “cemeteries in need,” as she calls them.
“This is our history,” she said, “and they are just disappearing into the overgrowth. Some are worse than others but all are in need of attention.”
Crowe said the sites are county property and she doesn’t understand why the county doesn’t help maintain the cemeteries.
“People call me from other states, even other countries wanting to know how they can visit their ancestor’s final resting place,” she said. “I’m embarrassed to think of what they must think of our county.”
Crowe said Bartow Ancestors is determined to clean up these county cemeteries and show them the respect they deserve.
“If the county won’t help, then we’ll do it ourselves,” she said. “But we need money.”
Bartow Ancestors hopes to raise the necessary money with a fundraiser on May 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bartow County Fairgrounds.
Several items will be raffled, including a stainless steel gas grill, a ceremonial pipe made by Bobby Bagley, a Cherokee elder and many items donated by area merchants.
“We will feature music by the New Coosa River Boys featuring Lynn Baines,” she said. “And we will have booths from the Bartow County Genealogical Society, the Bartow and Euharlee history museums, the Etowah Valley Historical Society to name a few. There will also be six speakers talking about everything from moonshining in north Georgia to old time surveying methods and equipment.”
Crowe said those wishing to donate to the effort may send checks to Bartow Ancestors, 475 E. Main St., No. 321, Cartersville, GA 30121 or deposit them in an account at NorthSide Bank in Cartersville. Credit card donations are accepted at http://www.gofundme.com/7cgw88.