“Chattanooga Forest Hills Cemetery” Book by Gay Morgan Moore


Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Author, Gay Morgan Moore just completed her fourth book, this one focusing on the stories of about 200 of the 45,000 people interred at the Forest Hills Cemetery in St. Elmo.      The book is the 2nd this author has had published by Arcadia Publishing.

Community leaders chartered the Forest Hills Cemetery in the late 1870’s.       The book includes numerous vintage photographs of people and places, many of which Moore obtained through the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library Regional History Collection and some which family members provided.

Zerelda Ellis Webster is one of the people who is highlighted in Moore’s book.   Seen in this photo with her son Billy, Webster was a single mother who ran the Kosmos Cottage Boarding House on East 37th Street from 1916-1939, which “catered to many young women who worked in various businesses in the city,” according to Moore.     Webster raised Pekingese Dogs after retirement and lived from 1884-1963.


Here’s a photo of Mamie Martin who ran the Martin Hotel on 9th street until 1985.   Many great African American entertainers and athletes graced the halls of the Martin Hotel at a time when Chattanooga was still segregated.

“Chattanooga Forest Hills Cemetery” also highlights the work of Sheila Dixon, known to many as the “Mayor of Alton Park.”      And the three ladies in the photo below are the founders of Girl’s Preparatory School in Chattanooga.

Mayor Edward Bass, pictured below was Mayor of Chattanooga from 1927 to 1947, through the Depression.       There’s a short biography of Mayor Bass published here which includes the following:

Elected mayor in 1927, Edward David Bass became only the second mayor to have been born in Chattanooga. Unlike the other, Hugh Whiteside, Bass’s family was not a family of great wealth.  Orphaned at the age of eleven, Bass left school to begin work along the production line at the D.M. Stewart Manufacturing Plant.  By 1900, Bass had saved enough money to follow in his father’s footsteps and open a grocery on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue.

Arcadia Publishing gives the following description of “Chattanooga’s Forest Hills Cemetery”:

Within 20 years of the end of the Civil War, Chattanooga was becoming the “Dynamo of Dixie.” Entrepreneurs and capital from the North were welcomed to the city. New railroads made the area a transportation hub. Fortunes were made in finance, industry, and tourism. Located at the foot of Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo was Chattanooga’s first suburb. The founder of the then-independent town, A. M. Johnson and other community leaders chartered the Forest Hills Cemetery in the late 1870s. Many Chattanooga-area families obtained sites within the cemetery, now on the National Register of Historic Places. A rarity for the Reconstruction South, these families included a number of African Americans. From the famous to the infamous, from the remembered to the nearly forgotten, Images of America: Chattanooga’s Forest Hills Cemetery highlights a number of Chattanoogans interred in this picturesque historic cemetery.

Listen to the story:

audio- 6.8 MB





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3 Responses to ““Chattanooga Forest Hills Cemetery” Book by Gay Morgan Moore”

  1. Jane Hubbard Says:

    I would dearly love to see the photo of Zerelda Ellis Webster and her son Billy Webster. Is there a reason why this cannot be viewed?

  2. Eva Webster Says:

    Thank you, what a charming picture and the book sounds so wonderful. I lived in Chattanooga several years and know that there were Websters in the area.

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