Sunset Hill Cemetery hits maximum occupancy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sunset Hill Cemetery hits maximum occupancy

Historic tombstone at Sunset Hill Cemetery. (Source: WALB) Historic tombstone at Sunset Hill Cemetery. (Source: WALB)
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

James O'Rourke, the circus employee and elephant trainer, Philip Coleman Pendleton, the founder of The Valdosta Times, and Samuel Mcwhir Varnedoe, the man who started the first school in Valdosta after the Civil War are all buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery. 

But now families can only be buried there if they have already purchased a plot.

Sunset Hill has reached its max.

Cemetery Supervisor Mark Coppage said with the cemetery burying around 27,000 people since its opening, the 66 acres of land can't hold anyone else.

"This cemetery has been around since 1861, you know they all knew that we'd run out of space, they just didn't figure it would be this soon," said Coppage.

Dr. T.W. Ellis, the first person to be laid to rest at Sunset Hill Cemetery, was born in 1804 and buried in 1861.

 Although the cemetery sold its last plot three years ago, there are still roughly 13,000 plots to be filled by families that have already paid for them. 

"Its the end of Sunset Hill Cemetery as far as new places or new areas," explained Coppage.

Coppage said that they have simply switched gears.

"We're in the business of maintaining the current grounds and to keep it beautiful like it always has," said Coppage.

With the cemetery's rich history and land filled with loved ones, Coppage encourages families to continue to visit.

"The graveyard's for the living," said Coppage.

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