Byrd's Chapel Old and New

Perhaps you’ve wondered how I choose which cemeteries to visit and write about.  There isn’t just one answer.  Sometimes I choose one that I’ve driven 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 stop.
That’s what happened a couple of weekends ago, when I was up early on a Saturday taking Lorelei to a Girl Scout event at St. John Neumann School.  Driving home, I decided to take the back road, a road (Yarnell) I hadn’t driven in many years, and this little church caught my eye:
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And there was a graveyard behind it!  I was so excited!  I couldn’t stop right then, but I went home to take care of my duties there with plans to return before picking up Lorelei.  When I did, I was rewarded with this:
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This is truly one of the loveliest, most picturesque, and peaceful graveyards I have encountered.  I took over 50 pictures here!
The whole graveyard is bisected by a winding drive, with graves on narrow strips along either side.
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The earliest burial in this cemetery was 1866, as far as I can tell–and members of that family (the Marcums) are still being laid to rest here today.
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Yes, this is still a very active cemetery, with several burials this century, and flowers on many of the graves.
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It’s also a very nicely kept place, with only a couple of exceptions:
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Some people might question my fascination with tombstones, saying that our deeds should serve to memorialize us, not monuments erected over our graves.  I think that’s why the baby graves are so important–these little ones never had a chance for action.  If their parents are gone, these stones may be all that’s left to show they ever existed, that they were important, that they were loved.
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Many of these little ones have their death certificates posted on Find-a-Grave, and it’s heartbreaking to read about the ailments that killed children back then.
Like all graveyards, this one has its mysteries, starting with this one:
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I figured there must be a good reason for a Jewish couple to be buried in a Christian cemetery, and it didn’t take much research to discover that Mrs. Kraut was born into the Stansberry family, many of whom are buried here.
Another mystery is the pattern of graves in the cemetery.  Just behind the church are many older graves, most from the 1940s, and the remains of stone pathways.
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As you walk the path away from the church, graves on both sides are much newer looking.  But if you walk all the way to the end, the neat layout gives way to scattered 1800s graves, many too old to even read clearly.
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Byrd’s Chapel Methodist Church was organized in 1934, so the graves directly behind it make sense.  But death records show a cemetery here called Byrd’s as early as 1915.  Did this start as a family graveyard that became a community cemetery and only later a church site?  I have not been able to find out.
Here are a few final things that caught my attention:
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0 thoughts on “Byrd's Chapel Old and New

  1. I love visiting old cemeteries. This one really is picturesque – like the description of a cemetery in a book or one you would see in a movie. Your pictures are really lovely.

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  3. Bill Irwin

    In my 40 years of genealogy, I have walked most of the cemeteries in Knox and surrounding counties.
    If cemeteries could speak, many volumes of history could be written. How sad that this cannot be. When a death occurs, a complete lifetime of information and history is lost unless it has been written and preserved for future generations.
    A simple grave, not marked with pomp or splendor, lying in a remote corner of a long abandoned cemetery, or perhaps in another cemetery, a grave marked with a display of grandeur, might remind one of the following verses taken from the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, written by Thomas Gray in 1716.
    “Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
    And waste its sweetness in the desert air
    The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
    And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
    Awaits alike that inevitable hour
    The paths of glory lead but to the grave. ”
    Bill Irwin

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  6. Robert McGinnis, East TN Cemetery Research

    There are two cemeteries here, the older graves at the very back are part of the Ruckport Cemetery. At late as the 1980’s there were still carved wooden markers on some of these graves!

  7. Johnna

    I live across the lane from Byrd’s Chapel cemetery. Many people in the area have family buried there it is my understanding that the land was at one point owned by the Ruckert family. They are my husband’s family. From our front window we can see people visiting or walking the cemetery. I have heard that the graves at the very end, backing up to the construction landfill are graves of slaves.
    My father and mother in law (her mother was from the ruckert Family)) are both buried close to the church and my husband and I have plots we pay fees on.
    The cemetery is well kept thanks to the preacher and his family. Wonderful people.

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