A Churchyard Without a Church: Branch Hill Cemetery

Branch Hill 1
Branch Hill 31
As I did last week, I asked Siri for advice on a nearby cemetery to visit, and she directed me to Branch Hill, just off the Pellissippi Parkway in the Solway community.  In fact, this graveyard shares a parking lot with Solway Park (a place I’ve heard is a bit sketchy, but it was broad daylight so I didn’t let that deter me!).
When a cemetery is named for a church, you expect to see a church.  But just like last week’s Lebanon Cemetery, this one is an orphan, its church building having been destroyed and its members dispersed some time after 1941.  The reason that’s all I can tell you is that Branch Hill is named in a document online listing active Methodist congregations that was published in 1941!
This charming cemetery, with first burials in the early 1900s, is still in active use, from what I can tell as a resting place for family members and possibly former members of the defunct congregation.  There have been several burials in this century, and moreover, the older graves are still being visited.
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Branch Hill 8
Branch Hill 9
The Walker name predominates here, with a healthy dose of Hardins and a scattering of Rathers and Sharps, among others.
Branch Hill 2
Branch Hill 7
Branch Hill 10
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Branch Hill 15
Branch Hill 20
Branch Hill 27
Branch Hill 18
There are many babies and young children remembered here.  Note the stones marking two losses in one family.  I can’t imagine the sorrow of these parents.
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Branch Hill 14
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A sampling of other interesting stones includes . . .
These hand-carved stones, one for a recent interment of a lady who died at the age of 101:
Branch Hill 5
Branch Hill 6
This stone for two brothers, something I don’t remember ever seeing before:
Branch Hill 26
And this one of a young physician:
Branch Hill 21
Why is that so interesting?  Well, because my research indicates that Branch Hill is an historically African-American cemetery.  I’m pretty sure it was unusual for a young black man to be a doctor in 1907.  I’ve tried to find out more about Dr. McCamey, and about the African-American community in Solway 100 years ago, but have come up empty so far.  As always, I’m hoping local readers may know more.
Unlike many orphaned cemeteries, this one is well maintained.  Even the broken bits of stones were arranged neatly:
Branch Hill 19
I should thank Siri for directing me to this cemetery, which I would never have discovered on my own.  Next time you are speeding down the Pellissippi Parkway toward Oak Ridge, take a left onto George Light Road and experience a little history.
Branch Hill 3
Branch Hill 4
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Branch Hill 17
Branch Hill 29
Branch Hill 30
Coming up next:  Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Lyons View Drive. 

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  1. Louise says:

    Beautiful pictures!

  2. lightningbuglady says:

    I have some information on Branch Hill Cemetery in Solway Tennessee . and those buried there, especially the Hardins, Odessa Gallemore and Cobb. But I too would like to know if you ever made contact with any of the surviving family members. I have only a fragmented history from Nina Bowers Hardin whom I had the pleasure of meeting in the 1990s she and her husband Joe Lewis Hardin and a number of their children are buried there now. but I still have many questions . note also historic little known Pleasant Chapel ( coward mill) and Archibald Cobb Cemerty on Couch Mill Rd are loosely connected with Branch Hill. Thank you for your photos and article were very interesting

    • lesliesholly says:

      No, my research for these posts is confined to what I can learn online to provide a little background for the photos and my “feelings” about my visits. I am glad you enjoyed the post, and I thank you very much for the new graveyards to visit. I haven’t been to either one and this is my favorite time of year for cemetery exploration.

  1. October 27, 2014

    […] « A Churchyard Without a Church: Branch Hill Cemetery […]

  2. November 8, 2014

    […] by many times and have always wanted to visit.  Sometimes lately I ask my phone for advice on the nearest cemetery!  And sometimes I just happen to see one I’ve never seen before and I […]

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  4. November 4, 2018

    […] to the house, I went off to explore a graveyard a bit closer to home.  A reader of one of my other cemetery posts alerted me to the existence of Pleasant Chapel […]

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