Historic figures lay at rest inside Columbus's Linwood Cemetery

Historic figures lay at rest inside Columbus's Linwood Cemetery

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - If you want to learn the history of our city, walk through its oldest cemetery - Linwood Cemetery.

Quite often, you'll find the names of the city's pioneers.

But that's not all - in Linwood, three former citizens with their own claims to fame lie in rest in Columbus.

It's been 43 years since a commercial reminded us that Coca-Cola is not just big in the states. It's a worldwide product. It's hard to believe the soft-drink was created locally by a Columbus chemist with a dream - Dr. John Pemberton.

"Mostly because he was the originator of the formula of Coca-Cola, and it's that Columbus connection to Coca-Cola that most people aren't really aware of," said Elizabeth Barker, executive director of the Historic Columbus Foundation.

Pemberton wasn't born here, but he practiced in Columbus, and when he died in Atlanta in 1888, he was brought back to Columbus for burial. He rests in the city's oldest graveyard, Linwood Cemetery, and his burial site has become somewhat of a shrine.

Jane Brady of the Historic Linwood Foundation, says Pemberton's grave is one of the most visited in the cemetery.

"We get Coke cans, Coke bottles, Coca-Cola bottle tops. Everybody's paying homage to Pemberton," Brady said.

It's not that far from that of another famous individual, Lizzie Rutherford Ellis. The name may not be that familiar, but we all know the holiday she created. One day in the mid-1800s, Lizzie and the Ladies Memorial Association decided to honor the Confederate dead by decorating their graves.

The day is now known as Memorial Day.

A monument at St. Luke Methodist Church points out that the first Memorial Day was held in Columbus on April 26, 1866.

It became huge in the early days as the country struggled to recover from four years of war.

Speaking of the Civil War, the man buried near this historic marker at Linwood would be immortalized more than 50 years after the conflict ended.

"Henry L. Benning himself is probably not well known today, 150 years after the end of the Civil War. However, the legacy of his name being associated with one of the most important military posts in the free world is a great legacy for the man," U.S. Army Infantry historian David Steigham said.

Steigham says Fort Benning got its name from the tenacious warrior known as the "Old Rock."

"In the Battle of Chickamauga, he had two horses shot out from under him and killed. He found a third horse, that was pulling artillery cannons and cut it out, so to speak, mounted it bareback and then led his troops, said 'follow me', right into the toughest charge of the battle," Steigham said.

To find out more on the history of Linwood Cemetery, you can purchase a brand new coffee table book entitled, Linwood, Through the Lens.

The foundation had it published just in time for the holidays and if you're interested in purchasing one, you can visit the website at linwoodcemetery.org.

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