Oak Lawn Cemetery was officially established in 1878 when William T. Perry deeded property to R. M. Collins, the mayor of Decatur, for a public burial ground for area residents. At that time however, at least one marked grave, that of Eli Lindley (d. 1867), existed, indicating that a private cemetery had first been established here. Other marked graves dating as early as 1857 are believed to have been relocated to this site after the public cemetery’s founding. The city of Decatur managed the cemetery between 1878 and 1928. During that time, local residents C. and Caroline Harmon generously donated land to the city on four occasions to enlarge the cemetery property. In 1928, in response to the recent formation of a cemetery association by E. P. Gibson, W. P. Thurmond, and T. J. Dillehay, the city ceased its management of Oak Lawn. Between 1928 and 1986, the cemetery association maintained the burial ground, which was again enlarged in 1947 and 1960. In 1986, after the dissolution of the association, the City of Decatur resumed responsibility for the graveyard. Now consisting of over forty acres of property, Oak Lawn Cemetery is the final resting place of over 3,700 area residents.