Forrest Cemetery

The History of Forrest Cemetery

Forrest Cemetery dates back to 1872, Captain A.L. Woodliff selected the site, negotiated for its purchase, and began clearing away the timber at his own expense. His sons, George, James F.  and Jeff cut the trees and prepared the 10-acre tract for the survey into burial lots. Captain Woodliff selected a site in the far western end of the city in the belief that the city would never grow out that far. Of course in years to come it has been surrounded by homes, churches, and schools. There are now approximately 40 acres of land available for graves.


Captain Woodliff organized Forrest Cemetery, incorporated it, and was chairman of the first board of trustees. The charter was secured in 1872, and was to continue 50 years. Under the charter the association sold lots for pecuniary gain and to provide a fund for upkeep.

In 1926, the trustees found that they had been operating for four years without a charter. On the advice of legal counsel, they asked that the property be transferred to the City of Gadsden.  Everything would be turned over to the City of Gadsden “which shall at all times keep, care for and maintain the cemetery in proper condition, use the funds for improvements and upkeep and set up rules and regulations for operating.”

The first person to be buried in Forrest Cemetery was Captain Woodliff’s own daughter, Sallie Law Woodliff who was born Feb 4, 1871, and died July 13, 1872.

-by Doyle Johns from an article in “The Messenger” 4 March 1998

Forrest Cemetery Chapel

Ruth R. Cross Memorial Chapel

The Ruth R. Cross Memorial Chapel is one of the most beautiful, historic buildings in Gadsden.  The chapel was built in 1935-36 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which was organized during the Great Depression to provide jobs for the unemployed.  Among these local projects were the Mort Glosser Amphitheater, Murphree Stadium, and other structures in the Mentone area.  

The chapel was built of  sandstone quarried from Lookout Mountain. The sandstone roof shingles, cut mostly by hand, are smaller at the top and increase in size as they descend down the roof. The interior walls and floor are also made of this cut sandstone with the cathedral ceiling being made of wood.  The iron worked chandeliers and hinges were also locally made by blacksmith, Allison Christopher.

In 1960, in honor of her dedication to Forrest Cemetery the chapel was named, The Ruth R. Cross Memorial Chapel.

The chapel is regularly used for funerals and weddings.

Christmas Box Angel

Christmas Box Angel

The Christmas Box Angel Statue is dedicated to all parents who have lost a child. The statue was commissioned by Richard Paul Evans, author of "The Christmas Box," to help parents seeking a place to grieve. 


  1. Forrest Cemetery

    Physical Address
    700 South 15th Street
    Gadsden, AL 35901

Find A Grave

Some grave sites may be located at a web site called Click on the website to be linked to Forrest Cemetery. Disclaimer: There is NO affiliation with Forrest Cemetery and Find A Grave.