Oakland Mansion Cemetery
The near 100 acre parcel of land known as Evergreen Cemetery lies between North Highland Avenue and Greenland Drive. The area was historically part of the lands belonging to Oaklands Mansion until 1872 when then-owner Dr. James Maney sold off 20 acres to the city of Murfreesboro. The land had operated as a slave cemetery during its days under Oakland Mansion ownership, with an unmarked grave area in section “M” now dedicated to the enslaved who were buried on the grounds some 200 years ago. In October 18th, 2021, the Middle Tennessee State University Geoscience Department conducted radar scanning of section “M,” and confirmed that it is the area in which unmarked individuals were indeed buried at the time.
Under the city’s ownership of the cemetery, the site operated as a replacement to Murfreesboro’s prior cemetery called “Old City Cemetery,” which lies on the 300 block of East Vine Street. Throughout the gravestones, one may find a wide range of death dates, dating from the cemetery’s founding to the present date.
On the grounds of the cemetery, one can find a wide variety of historical trees, figures, and monuments amongst the grounds’ 200,000+ graves and 100+ acres. Of note are several long-standing maple, oak, and magnolia trees, some of which have occupied the grounds for far longer than the dates of the oldest headstones. Several of the historical figures which occupy the grounds include individuals such as Tennessee’s 25th governor, John P. Buchanan, Mary Murfree, a famous female fiction writer, and Mary Ellen Vaughn, a notable African American female nurse who created Murfreesboro’s first African American newspaper entitled “The Murfreesboro Monitor.”
A monument known as “The Confederate Circle” lies towards the southern section of the cemetery. This monument lies on a mass grave site of roughly 2,000 confederate soldiers during the civil war, with the area surrounding the circle comprising of individual stone posts indicating the names of each confederate state. Another recent monument constructed in partnership with the African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County indicates section “M” of the cemetery as a memorial site to the unmarked graves of enslaved people. An inscription on the monument reads: “Gone but not forgotten. In memory of the African Americans buried here in section “M” of Evergreen Cemetery in unmarked graves including the enslaved of the Maney plantation for whom this burial ground was likely first established."