In the late 1700s, Creek Indians had an encampment along the freshwater springs of Leslie Drive. In the early 1800s, Joseph Chambers built a log cabin nearby and used the south plot as the family burial ground. In 1883, the Chambers family donated the field to the new town of Villa Rica. For 125 years, the area was called the 'Chambers Burying Ground,' later called the 'City Cemetery' and Hillcrest Cemetery in recent years. Today, the south plot that began as the 'Chambers Burying Ground' is called 'The Old Section' of Hillcrest Cemetery.
The 'Old Section' of Hillcrest Cemetery
In 1887, Villa Rica's first mayor, Nathaniel H. Humphries, and the first city council bought land lots 159 and 162, joining them to the 'Chambers Burying Ground' to complete our present-day Hillcrest Cemetery. In 1936, the cemetery's landscaping came under the direction of the Villa Rica Garden Club, earning the Carroll County Silver Award for Beautification.
In 2019, Villa Rica commissioned a mapping study of the Old Section of Hillcrest Cemetery. Based on the extent of above-ground features, this study deduced that at least 158 individuals had been interred in the Old Section. Additionally, many more individuals are likely present due to numerous gaps in the rows devoid of above-ground features. Because of this, plots are not sold in the Old Section.
The rough-hewn stone box crypts found in the Old Section are unique because they are topped with large curved stones placed at the head of the tomb. This design creates an effect that resembles a bed with a headboard. Other tombstones in the cemetery are made of limestone, sandstone, and granite and have various styles and shapes.
Blue Star Memorial Highways are highways in the United States marked to pay tribute to the U.S. armed forces. Those interred at Hillcrest include service members of the Confederate States, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. On March 9, 2009, a plaque was erected in the cemetery's northeast area, recognizing the cemetery's distinction as a Blue Star Memorial By-Way member.
In 2017, a Remembrance Garden was dedicated to honor those killed in the natural gas explosion on December 5, 1957. The garden offers residents, family, and friends a place to sit and reflect on that day, the most disastrous event in Carroll County history regarding loss of life and injury. A special marker was placed in the garden remembering the youngest victim, 13-year-old Bobby Roberts.
In March 2022, Richmond Tree Experts cut down over 40 trees of various sizes and species, some of the largest being the 100+ year-old oak trees that had died from bark beetles. The tree trimming and removal was the first step in the cemetery beautification project the City of Villa Rica planned. The City of Villa Rica paid for the tree removal project along with a generous donation from the Villa Rica Garden Club.
One of the oak trees killed by bark beetles.
We hated to see the trees go, but the damage the roots and falling limbs were causing had reached a critical point.
Hillcrest Cemetery encompasses 10.79 acres and is not a perpetual care cemetery. Hillcrest has a family plot layout, with graves arranged by family affiliation. While the City of Villa Rica owns the cemetery, the plots sold are considered private property; thus, their maintenance resides with the family. However, an ordinance update approved in March 2023 will allow the city more leeway in cemetery plot maintenance and appearance.
Many of Villa Rica's earliest residents are interred in Hillcrest Cemetery, and burials continue there today. Currently, the cemetery has 2,168 occupants; unfortunately, an accurate tally is impossible because of unidentified burials.
Hillcrest Cemetery is located on Highway 78/W. Bankhead Hwy and Hillcrest Drive in Villa Rica, Georgia.
Links to obituaries and other genealogy information for those buried at Hillcrest Cemetery.
PDF map of the location of family plots at Hillcrest Cemetery.
A more detailed map is being created