By Monique Gooch
CHATTANOOGA, TN — For the past 120 years, the Beck Knob cemetery has been a repository of centuries worth of history and culture. In 1888, the land was deeded to the Hurst United Methodist Church. The cemetery is the home of many formerly enslaved African Americans. And from 1888 to the 1940s, Beck Knob cemetery was very frequently used.  
The only thing that remains now is a very small piece of land that looks like an empty, abandoned field. It could be missed in a blink of an eye. And unfortunately, many graves are covered by weeds and tall grass.  
Joshua Beck, a Union supporter, donated the land to the African-American community. The one-acre cemetery at 875 Dartmouth St.,is located on the south side of a steep hill in North Chattanooga. There are 188 known burials and 42 grave markers. It is thought many graves have not yet been discovered. An effort to make Beck Knob Cemetery an historical site finally paid off. The request was approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission and became an historical landmark in May.. 
Unfortunately, the Beck Knob Cemetery has fallen into disrepair and has been damaged by vandals. The African American Cemetery Preservation is trying hard to keep the Beck Knob Cemetery clean and free of vandalism. They often host volunteer days, and workshops on cemetery preservation in hopes of a full restoration. In order to keep the Beck Knob Cemetery alive, donations can be made by visiting All donations are tax deductible.  
There is also talk of a possible reunion for families of the buried members to take place during August. For more information, contact the Hurst United Methodist Church at Even if patrons want to just pass by or stop and get out, it really is a sight to see. Standing where ancestors are buried is a feeling of insurmountable emotion.