Bethel Confederate cemetery
“It was the natural and affectionate desire of the Southern women of Knoxville, that the graves of Confederate soldiers who are buried here should not be neglected.” - Our Confederate Dead, 1892
After the war, the federal government systematically set about locating the Union dead buried around Knoxville and reinterring them in the new National Cemetery. Confederate dead did not get the same consideration. Establishment of a Confederate Cemetery was left to the local community, and removal of bodies to a common location was much more haphazard.
Almost immediately after the end of the war, ladies’ Confederate memorial associations began to organize across the South. Their stated purposes were straightforward but ambitious – to remove from wayside and battlefield Southern dead, to place them in cemeteries of their own, and to build monuments memorializing their sacrifice. Bethel Cemetery has been privately owned since 1873.
Located on Bethel Avenue and down the road from the Mabry-Hazen House, the Bethel Cemetery contains more than 1,600 Confederate dead, including roughly one hundred who were killed in the battle of Fort Sanders. In addition, around 50 “Union Men”, 40 Civil War veterans, and several widows are interred here. The monument to the Confederate dead was erected by the Ladies Memorial Association and was unveiled on May 19, 1892. Contributors to the monument fund included both Confederate and Union veterans and the monument was erected in memory of the over 1,600 soldiers who are buried here. The Federal Government did not issue headstones for the Confederate dead until 1924.
The cemetery was cared for and maintained by the Winstead family from 1886-1989. The last family descendent and caretaker, Miss Mamie Winstead, willed the cemetery to the Hazen Historical Museum Foundation in 1989. Meeting her wishes, the Foundation opened a small museum in 2011 which details the history of the cemetery as it pertains to the Civil War in Knoxville. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the Foundation.
You may download a copy of the Bethel Cemetery burial list by clicking here. This document is a consolidated listing of soldiers from Mamie Winstead's records, SCV Camp #87, a 1943 newspaper article, and records from local cemetery historian Robert McGinnis. We are currently working to match these listings with the Soldiers and Sailors system that can be found here.
Bethel Confederate Cemetery
1917 Bethel Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37915
Open daily dawn to dusk.
Tours available by appointment.
Saturdays, 10AM - 3PM or by appointment.
While the cemetery is open to the public, please keep in mind that it is also private property. Headstone rubbings or any other treatment is not permitted. We are happy to share our conservation plans with you. Donations towards upkeep and improvements are appreciated.