What better day than the Feast of All Souls to write about a cemetery? I may seem a little strange the rest of the year but today I am on topic and I have a beautiful graveyard to write about.
You may remember that my last graveyard story was very sad, about a cemetery whose history is lost and whose inhabitants seem forgotten. But not all graveyards are like that. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that each location has its own atmosphere and its own story.
Hickory Creek Cemetery, located next to Mount Pleasant Church on Buttermilk Road in West Knox County, is a HAPPY cemetery. And it was a happy accident that I went there some weeks ago.
Emily and I were out walking at a park we’d never been to (about which more another time!) and we decided to ask Siri if there were any cemeteries nearby. She directed us to Hickory Creek, and I could tell right away that it was a special place.
For one thing, it has something living there, or at least hanging out, and I don’t mean a ghost! I’m sure you’ve heard of a junkyard dog, but how about a graveyard cat?
It was hard to stop taking pictures of this photogenic little fellow. Isn’t there something comforting about the idea of a cat sleeping cozily on your grave, or is it just me?
And then this happened:
Plus this is a well-cared-for graveyard in a beautiful natural setting.
Naturally, there were some broken stones. I’ve come to realize that these things happen with the passage of time. The oldest grave I saw in this still-active cemetery was dated 1801.
And yes, there were babies and little children:
This little girl died almost exactly 100 years before the little girl whose grave, above, lies in the newer part of the cemetery.
This baby boy got a larger than usual monument to his short life. This picture also shows one of the residents located next to the graveyard. If I were going to live next to a cemetery, I’d pick this one. And there’s that cat again!
Gone to be an angel . . .
Asleep in Jesus . . .
Someone decided to purchase a new stone for this little boy. Perhaps a brother or sister who still remembers and misses him?
Long epitaphs are a prominent feature of this cemetery. Unfortunately, they are hard to read even in person, so I hope you’ll be able to decipher even a few:
Detail from the above stone:
The rose may fade, the lily die
But flowers immortal bloom on high
Beyond the taint of sinful powers
Our son is safe in Eden’s bowers.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
To live in loving hearts is not to die.
Detail from above stone:
Thy life was beauty, truth, goodness, and love.
I love the stone below and imagine that this old lady was much loved.
Couldn’t ask for a better epitaph than this:
Simple though it may be, the inscription below brought me to tears:
I hope I am imparting a little of the flavor of this place to you . . . it felt to me like the people who rest here lived good and full lives, that they were loved in life and are remembered in death. That’s why it felt like a happy graveyard to me. But there’s more!
This cemetery is also rich in history:
The place is simply teeming with Hardins, starting with this famous fellow:
Courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s the text of his memorial in full:
Born April 18, 1734 in Virginia of English Ancestry.
Died July 4, 1801, in Hardin Valley, Tennessee.
A strict Presbyterian, stern and fearless in discharge of duty.
Loved and trusted by his friends, feared by his enemies.
Major 2nd N.C. Minute Men, Salisbury District, 1775.
Captain Tryon Co., N.C. Light Horse, Cherokee Expedition, 1776.
In battle of Ramsour’s Mill and at Kings Mountain, 1780.
Colonel for Western Counties (Tenn.), 1788.
Lost three sons in Tennessee Indian Wars.
Member Committee of Safety, Tryon Co., N.C., 1775.
Member Provincial Congress at Hillsborough 1775 and at Halifax 1776.
Member General Assembly of N.C., 1778-79 and (from Tenn.) 1782-88.
Organizer State of Franklin, Jonesboro, 1784-1785.
Member General Assembly, Territory South of the Ohio, Knoxville, 1794.
For his military services during Revolutionary War and Indian Wars he received in 1785 from North Carolina,
3000 acres of land in the middle district, now Hardin County, Tenn. named for him.
Check out this gentleman below, one of the original Tennessee Volunteers!
Died in the Second World War:
Mr. Lovelace’s grave above gives me an opportunity to take you down the hill to the newer part of the cemetery where folks are still being laid to rest today. Now, this is one of those graveyards where all the names are recognizable to anyone who lives in the area–Lovelace Road, for example, is close by, and of course Hardin Valley is a large community. Some of the names I saw repeated over and over again: Bridges, Davis, Duncan, Fain, Grubb, Hope, Liles, Rice, and Williams. And the really neat thing is that those names are still turning up at the “modern” end of the cemetery, emphasizing the history of this community and the part these families continue to play in it.
This is a long post with a lot of pictures. I want to share just a few more of stones that I found interesting or unusual.
I’ve never seen this marbled effect before, but it’s pretty.
Here’s something else I’ve never seen:
Yesterday at Mass Father Haley told us about the Polish custom of gathering at the graveyard to picnic amongst the graves of dead relatives He described a daylong celebration, a joyful occasion. Hickory Creek Cemetery is just the kind of place I would pick for such a party.
For more of my cemetery adventures, visit this link.