Helena Magazine

Harmony Cemetery offers historic landmark in Helena

Published 3:42 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

By Gracious Washington and Cory Johnson

Helena remains one of the top places to live, not just in Alabama, but across the country. The city ranks highly in safety, education, growth and a personal favorite–culture. Many residents are not aware of the historical markers located inside the city, but there are many.

One such historical site is located steps from the Jane B. Holmes Public Library, the Harmony Cemetery entrance gives you access to two of the most historically important sites in Helena–Harmony Cemetery and the Harmony Graveyard, both of which were added to the Historic Cemetery Register in 2010.

The Harmony Cemetery is the final resting place for more than two hundred slaves, coal miners and military veterans. The bodies laid to rest here are now marked with a cross to denote their existence, since most of the names have been lost to time.

What you will also find among the crosses is the memorial plaque dedicated by a member of the 2010 Eagle Scouts, Dalton Hunter Sparks. This is the indicator that you have located the historic cemetery.

While strolling through this site, a member of Helena’s Diversity and Inclusion board found one of the headstones still standing.

A powerful look into the past was provided by the headstone of Norman Smith. Not only was Mr. Smith an African American resident of Helena, but he also held the rank of Private in the Transportation Corp during World War I.

The 1940 US Census shows Mr. Smith lived in Helena with his wife, four daughters and one son. During the month of February, we would like to highlight Smith for his patriotic and historical significance.

The Helena’s Diversity and Inclusion board would like to highlight more heroic and patriotic stories like Smith’s.

It is our desire to celebrate each other every month of the year. Community efforts to clean up the cemetery will be in Spring 2023. Please follow us @helenadiboard or email helenadiboard@gmail.com for updates.