Mars Hill Cemetery
History of Church now known as Grace Community Church
In 1865, U.S. Steel Corporation, now known as USX, gave land for the building of a church with cemetery on Mars Hill Road1. The church was constituted November 17, 1876, with seven members as Sulphur Springs Missionary Baptist Church. When it was learned that the springs did not contain sulphur, the church name was changed to Mars Hill Missionary Baptist Church and received into the Shelby Association in 18802. Since that time Shelby and Jefferson county lines have changed and this property is now in Jefferson County in an unincorporated area, surrounded by new housing and commercial development.
Sulphur Springs (or Mars Hill) was the location of sporadic coal mining in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Around 1875 test drilling in this area went down 543 feet and located coal in eleven levels. This industry and the building of the L & N RR attracted a lot of people. While never having a large membership, the church provided a place of worship and burial for people living nearby. The present pastor's mother attended this church in 1925, when her father was stationed at Parkwood as a section foreman with L&N RR3.
With the passing of time, increased use of gas for heating purposes caused the need for coal to decline and many mines closed. Some people moved away and the church membership decreased. In 1991 the name of the church was changed to Trace Crossings Baptist Church after a development by that name began nearby4. In the year 2003 the church was incorporated and the name changed to Grace Community Church. The church and cemetery are maintained by church members. It is not within the city limits of Hoover even though it is completely surrounded by the city.
The church has been remodeled several times, the last of which the membership constructed an addition to the church, leaving some of the old building in the rear. There are 35 to 40 active members on role. This varies at different times. The current Pastor is Rev. Jimmy Waldrop, Associate Pastor, Howard Holsomback and Secretary, Mrs. Jackie Marie Hale.
The pastors according to report given by Dr. Ray Atchison to Samford University are as follows: 1880, R.B. Hall; 1881-84, George T. Lee; 1885, A.E. Burns; 1886, V.A. Wilson; 1887, H.C. Taal; 1889-91, L.P. Craig; 1892-93, J.D. Martin; 1897, O.J. Waldrop; 1900, James Champion; 1901-02, J.F. Parker; 1905, C.R. Miller; 1906, J.L. Busby; 1907-08, W.H. Sellers; 1909, C.R. Miller; 1913, J.A. Tucker; 1917, L.G. Nunnally; 1923, W.H. Sellers; 1924-17, John T. Screws; 1930, L.G. Nunnally; 1933-39, S.G. Kornegay; 1940, J.T. Screws; 1942-43, 1946-49, Archie Hollis; 1950, Preston Isbell; 1951-52, F.O. Robinson; 1953, Crufew Smith; 1954, J.E. McDaniel; 1955, L.W. Talley; 1956-57, L.B. Goode; 1958, J.D. Vardaman; 1959-63, J.L. Thomas5. Members of many of these families are buried in the church cemetery, the first date of a marker is 1883, Elizabeth C. Scott, wife of E.L. Scott. The last person to be buried here was Ginn Brasher, September 13, 2003.
The cemetery was listed on the Alabama Historical Cemetery Registry on December 3, 2003. A complete burial listing can be found in Interment.net.
- Information furnished by Shelby County Tax Assessor's office.
- Information furnished by Elizabeth Wells, Samford University Special Collection Dept.
- History of Hoover, Alabama and It's People
- Samford University Special Collection
Significant Families Buried in Mars Hill / Grace Community Cemetery
There have been many families that have several members buried in this cemetery over the years. It is hard to say which family is the most significant. The McGraw family have 24 markers, there are sections in which the Milstead, Scott and Carmichael families have several grave markers.
The Hollis family is considered to be among the most significant buried here. There are 17 markers for this family. The Special Collection Department at Samford University has information that Archie Hollis was a minister during the years 1942-43 and 1946-1949. According to information contained in the History of Hoover, Alabama and It's People, published in 1992, Louis and Ellie Hollis moved to Mars Hill in 1938. Their 40 acres of land with four houses and a trailer court remain intact. The Mars Hill Grocery Store built in 1997 by John Thomas Hollis is now under new management as Bill's Food Mart. This is located at the entry of Mars Hill Road, just off Highway 150.
This information was provided by Vadie Honea, Director of Research and co-founder of the Hoover Historical Society. Questions may be directed to Mrs. Honea at 205-822-9392.