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In 1848, the Georgia Baptist Convention, deeded the campus and buildings to the Trustees of Mercer University for the purpose of providing Christian education. With the university’s move to Macon, Georgia in 1871, the chapel was given to the residents of Penfield to serve as a Baptist church. The remainder of the building and grounds were also given to the community, except for four acres of land that was to serve as the village's cemetery, the title of which remained with the Trustees of Mercer University.
The cemetery, officially named Penfield Cemetery of Mercer University, serves "as a burying ground for the long-time bona fide residents of Penfield and for Rev. Jesse Mercer (1769-1841), Rev. Billington McCarthy Sanders (1789-1854), and other Mercerians who because of their service to the institution might properly be buried there."
Reconditioning and EndowmentEdit
In 1941, Greene County native Col. James Griffin Boswell (1882-1952), of Los Angeles, California provided Mercer University seed money for improving the cemetery and providing for perpetual care and upkeep. A matching gift of $10,000.00 raised by Georgia Baptists and friends of the cemetery, along with Col. Boswell's gift , provided for cemetery improvements including grading, sod and the building of a three foot brick wall surrounding the grounds, along with impressive columns and iron gates at the entry.
Original Rules and RegulationsEdit
The following rules and regulations were established by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Mercer University to provide for the operation and care of the cemetery.
1. Only a long-time resident of Penfield, Georgia, or a former long-time resident of Penfield, Georgia, or a long-time employee of Mercer University may be buried in the cemetery.
2. The burial of any person or person in the said cemetery is permissive only and the privilege must be exercised in full accord with the regulations now in force and such as may be adopted from time to time by and for the guidance of the Cemetery Committee.
3. No lot or square will be sold and none will be designated for the specific use of any person or persons or families until the actual need arises and the required authorization given.
4. The sum of $15.00 shall be paid to the committee in advance for the opening and closing each grave, provided that the committee may make such revision as in their direction change in cost of labor and material may seem to justify.
5. The sum of $35.00 shall be paid to the Cemetery Committee before authorizing the opening and closing of any grave, the same to be used to provide a suitable marker for the said grave provided that if the family of the deceased shall provide a marker acceptable to the committee within a period of six months from the date of burial, the said payment of $35.00 shall be refunded to the person or persons who made the payment.
6. No flowers or shrubbery are to be planted on any grave or square or elsewhere in the cemetery and all headstones and markers must be uniform in character and setting so that the graves can be mowed and the orderliness and beauty of the cemetery properly cared for.
7. The granting of the privilege of burial in the cemetery shall carry with it the obligation and the promise to abide by all rules and regulation now in force and hereafter enacted.
8. It shall be the duty of the Cemetery Committee to see that the foregoing provisions are understood and agreed to in advance of any burial.
- "Penfield .... Shrine of Georgia Baptists" (cemetery pamphlet; no date)