Located on Alabama Highway 119 in north Shelby County is the Allan Cemetery, established in 1835. Originally known as the Johnson Cemetery, for one of the first families to settle in the area, the name changed in the early 1900s. The land belonged to Rollin Johnson's great, great, great grandfather Col. Isaac Francis Johnson, who owned 400 to 500 acres. A doctor, Col. Johnson started the cemetery when his wife and two sons died in a yellow fever epidemic in 1835.
The old cemetery features names that are well known in Shelby County historical circles: Johnson, Bishop, Cross, Allan, Brasher, Gilbert and more. The oldest readable stone in the cemetery features a birth date of 1808. The graveyard has been surveyed and mapped by the Shelby County Historical Society and still is active with burials ongoing. The shell of the building that sits adjacent to the cemetery, often thought to be a church, is actually an old meeting hall that was built to host funerals, memorial services and revivals. "I remember going there as a kid," Johnson recalls. "I even helped lay some of the floor boards."
Down the road, hidden behind several residential developments, is an almost-forgotten graveyard that is home to a number of graves belonging to African-American descendants of slaves. The last names on the gravestones, a number of which are hand-carved, feature the same last names found in the Allan Cemetery. Many of the graves here are unmarked or simply marked with stones. Due to neglect, many of the sites are buried further under waist-high weeds.