MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis ghost hunter has taken over ownership of Shelby County’s oldest cemetery, he says to preserve local history and give lost souls a beautiful final resting place.
Jack Brewer with Memphis Ghost Hunters recently got the deed to the Old Raleigh Cemetery on Old Raleigh LaGrange Road and has started a GoFundMe campaign to clean up and repair the historic graveyard.
“There are some really famous people buried here. That’s where the Shelbys are buried, and Isaac Rawlings, who was the second mayor of the city,” said Brewer.
The Raleigh Cemetery was founded in 1825 and was originally part of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. During a walk through the cemetery, we came across headstones dating back to 1838.
“This is the oldest cemetery in Memphis but Elmwood is the oldest running cemetery. So, that’s the big debate. Actually, we got them beat by 20 years,” Brewer said.
The seven-acre cemetery is now knee-deep in grass and weeds, and the chain-link fence surrounding the cemetery is falling down. Brewer said right now it’s difficult to see how large the cemetery is.
“I have access to an eight-foot chain link fence which is 2,000 feet, which would cover the entire cemetery. I just don’t have the poles. As you can see, they are falling apart over there, but me and my team figure if we can get it mowed, cleaned up, it will be easy to manage,” Brewer said.
Brewer is hoping to raise around $5,000 to begin work on the cemetery. In the future, he plans to conduct paranormal investigations and offer walking tours to continue to take care of the place.
“Basically, the money is being donated back to the cemetery. No one is profiting from it. I mean, you can’t make no money off a cemetery unless you bury somebody, but we aren’t going to bury anybody here,” said Brewer. “The main thing is preserving the history, getting it cleaned up, and people have family here. They can come and visit.”
Brewer said the cemetery gates will always be open to those who want to visit a family member’s grave. He is hoping those who can’t donate money to the cause will offer man-hours to help restore the cemetery to its former glory.
For more on the GoFundMe campaign click here.