Carrollton Cemeteries: A Brief History

The suburb of Carrollton became incorporated as a city in 1845. Twenty-nine years later, in 1874, the city of New Orleans absorbed the town, including its cemetery. Sometimes referred to as Green Street Cemetery, Carrollton Cemetery is a four-block area bordered by Adams, Hickory, Birch, and Loweline. Historian Leonard V. Huber claims that the cemetery journal cites Neil Cockran as the buyer of the first lot (#405) on November 8, 1849 for $15, a price that remained the same for many years.

Huber also quotes 19th century historian William H. Williams, who claimed that the "sedimentary deposit from the waters of the McCarty crevasse" had created high enough ground to make earthen burials possible there. Williams wrote that the cemetery was already "becoming handsomely improved with tombs, shrubbery, and flowers" and that some dead had been there forty years. This date must have prompted Lyle Saxon, local director of the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration in 1938, to claim that Carrollton Cemetery had begun in the 1830s. Among pioneer Carrollton families buried there are Fischer, Kirchoff, Lochte, Henton, Herrle, Thieler, Gogreves Deibele, and O'Dwyer.

Originally divided into two sections, one area was reserved for the whites of the community. The other, smaller section was assigned for the African-American families. The white section features more elaborate above ground tombs, while the "colored" section features inground copings, open-framed chambers filled with earth, for their graves.

A few blocks away is modest St. Mary Cemetery, formerly the property of the Catholic Church (St. Mary's Nativity). According to Huber, "city authorities took it over in a swap of land with the church in 1921." St. Mary is bounded by Adams, Spruce, and Cohn Streets. As with Carrollton Cemetery, it backs up to Lowerline, the former boundary of Carrollton. St. Mary covers two city blocks, half the size of Carrollton Cemetery's four-block site.

While early New Orleans cemeteries are noted for their maze-like and crowded nature, these later suburban ones imposed an urban grid with main streets, side alleys, and space between tombs. Carrollton and St. Mary reflect the German proclivities of many early Carrollton residents and are visually connected to the neighborhood.