You’ve probably passed this little church and cemetery hundreds of times on your way to Turkey Creek. Maybe you’ve never even noticed them. At the corner (sort of–the road has been closed here) of Dutchtown and Lovell Roads stands the little Concord Mennonite Church, still open although with a congregation of only about 25 souls.
The congregation has been around since the 1870s, the building since 1887. A group of Pennsylvania Dutch, led by one John Stoltzfus, came down from the North to start this church (hence the name of the road, y’all).
This is a small and very well-kept little cemetery, mowed, trash-free, and with most stones readable and in good repair. There’s not much if any burying still going on here, but at least some graves are still being visited.
The stones and inscriptions are typical of the other cemeteries I’ve visited, including the familiar lamb stones signifying the death of a child.
The names are not as familiar. They are–predictably–mostly German, and apparently many of the congregants left the area over the years. There was one distinctly non-German name that was a big surprise to me, though:
Della Myrtle Raley was my great-grandmother. Raley is an Irish name, and I was immediately curious about exactly who old WT was and what he was doing in a Mennonite Cemetery. I can’t yet answer the second question, but I can tell you that his full name was William Thornburgh Raley and that he was my first cousin thrice removed. Our common ancestor is my great-great-grandfather, Daniel Raley, who is buried in Carr Cemetery in Union County (more on the cemeteries of Union County another day). To put it another way, WT and Della were first cousins and surely knew one another.
Isn’t it strange to imagine what this area must have been like when Tennessee John (as he came to be known) and his family arrived in this area? I found the following online in a Knoxville application for the Historic Register: “Loveville (Lovell) was a rural community about one mile east of Campbell’s Station and was named for Robertus Love who settled there around 1797. Loveville contained a tannery, rope walk, store, blacksmith shop and cobbler’s shop. The businesses gradually disappeared over the years, and most were torn down when Kingston Pike was widened in the early 1940s. Cavett’s Station, Campbell’s Station, Ebenezer and the communities of Erin (Bearden) and Loveville (Lovell) were all located within a valley of approximately twelve square miles, Sinking Creek Valley (also called Grassy valley) in west Knoxville” (remember Grassy Valley Baptist Church–AHA!).
Now, granted this was some years later but I’m willing to bet that Loveville then was a lot closer to the Loveville of 1797 than to the Lovell of 2014. I tired to produce picturesque shots for this post by editing out as much modern-day ugliness as possible, but it was hard. Just look at the contrasts:
It occurs to me that we owe a debt of gratitude to the people who founded churches and their accompanying cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries. “Progress” has destroyed Loveville, leveled its blacksmith and tannery and general store. But the God-fearing folk of East Tennessee are a lot less likely to knock down churches and dig up graveyards. Oh, it has happened, I know. I have forebears who lie in cemeteries that were created so that TVA could flood their previous “final” resting places. In fact, some of the folks in this cemetery were relocated from Karns for the construction of the high school. But it’s not as common. And so we still have a little left of this
albeit surrounded by this
and for that we should all be thankful.