Throwback Thursday: An Autumn Afternoon at Holloway Cemetery

I know most of y’all are probably champing at the bit for Spring to arrive.  Me, not so much.  I’d like at least one good snowfall first.  But today, I want you to stop thinking about Spring for a few minutes and instead remember Autumn.
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I’m behind in recounting my graveyard adventures, and I seriously considered not posting this and going with something more seasonal, but you know what?  These pictures are just too pretty not to share.
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Holloway Cemetery is at the corner of Bakertown and Robinson Roads, and I’ve driven past it hundreds of times.  When I was in high school, it was on my shortcut from my home in Cumberland Estates in Northwest Knoxville to the home of one of my best friends in West Knoxville.  Graveyards weren’t on my radar in those days, I guess, although I’ve certainly driven past it as an adult as well.  My daughter Emily was the one who noticed it recently and suggested we should check it out.
When we first got out of the car, we thought it might turn out to be a disappointment.  There was just one tiny grave near the road, a little baby who apparently someone is still remembering:
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We combed through the underbrush and found nothing until we walked all the way up the hill, which is where the rest of the graves are.
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Apart from the fact that the name on the sign appears to be spelled wrong, my research didn’t turn up much about this place.  I have no idea who is responsible for its upkeep, but at the risk of offending whoever it is, it really could use some.
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I don’t just mean that it needs mowing.  I’m going to be charitable and assume that our visit just happened to fall around the time they were getting to mow it.  The problems I noticed were a bit more serious.
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It has taken some time for things to get into such a condition.  Some of those trees have been growing for years.  The interesting thing about this place, though, is that there are some relatively recent burials and signs that people have been visiting regularly.
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I wasn’t able to discover anything about the history of the land or the cemetery, and it’s interesting to note that whoever the Holloways were, none of them were buried here, unless they are among the many buried namelessly.
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The latest burial here took place in 2001, a member of the Garrett family.  The Garretts are the only family here with more than two graves to their name.  There are a lot of them, including most of the more recent and better-tended graves.  Interestingly, the earliest marked grave–1890–belonged to a woman who was born a Garrett.  If I had time, I could probably find out more, but I don’t have time to fall down that particular rabbit hole today.
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Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting stones:
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Even though the condition of this cemetery made us both sad, I was so grateful to Emily for suggesting it.  October never looked so beautiful.
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Edit: I’ve learned since this writing that this was at least originally a pauper’s cemetery, which would help answer some of my questions.
 
 

Stanton Cemetery: An Unexpected Reward

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So you chose to walk around Mead’s Quarry and took the Tharp Trace Trail starting at the harder end.  Don’t feel bad because you are going to come upon a nice place to slow down and catch your breath not far from the end of the trail.  Stanton Cemetery is now maintained by Ijams, so not only is it in good shape, the answers to many would-be mysteries, like the one below, are explained on the information sign above.
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You can’t tell by looking at my pictures, but these two stones, while side by side as you would expect for a husband and wife, are facing the opposite directions.  Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey, therefore, are not really lying next to each other.  They sleep separately in death as they did in life, because they were divorced!
The day I visited this cemetery the leaves were just perfect for pictures.
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I imagine these folks are the ones whose name the cemetery bears:
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There were many sweet and touching baby headstones in here.  This hand-lettered one tugged at my heartstrings:
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This little girl’s old-fashioned names are back in style today:
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More babies:
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From graves marked only with rocks to others with unusual decorations and creative inscriptions, there is a lot of variety here.  Notice particularly the name and the date on the stone below–apparently the Simpsons had strong feelings about the coming Civil War.
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Something about this place–perhaps the secluded location–gives it an especially peaceful feeling.  Luckily, you don’t have to walk the hard part of Tharp Trace to get to it.  Mead’s Quarry is a hopping place these days, but you can reach this oasis of calm with only a few minutes’ walk.
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One Cemetery, Two Names

I love Ball Camp Pike.  Maybe someday I will write a post in its honor.  It’s a beautiful road, with a rich history and something interesting to see around every bend.  Like this cemetery.
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You can call it Murray Cemetery (its official name, according to KGIS) or May Cemetery (which makes more sense, as its on property that once belonged to the May family).  Either way, it’s a charming little graveyard, especially in the fall.
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My first encounter with this cemetery was exactly 30 years ago.  I wasn’t there to look at graves, though–I’d come to the DMV to take my driving test.  At that time, the little building next to the graveyard was a DMV location.  These days it’s a church, Knox County having sold it to a Methodist congregation in 1990, although it’s changed hands twice more since then.  The county acquired the site in 1930 from the Galbraith family, and judging from appearances, it started its life as a school. [UPDATE:  Lillian A. Pedigo School seems to have been its name at some point.]
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Thirty years ago, the cemetery was so overgrown as to be barely visible.  It’s been nicely cleaned up since then.
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The oldest stone here is dated 1820, but upon closer inspection you can see it was erected in 1856.  The next burial is 1857, so perhaps that’s closer to the time burials began to happen here.  There are many in the 1860s and later, and although the last one took place in 1942, the most active period ended in the 1920s.
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Baker, May, and Murray are the most well-represented names here.  Y’all, I love taking pictures in the fall so much.  Everything is so pretty that I couldn’t crop out all the colors and make these pictures as big as I usually do!  So I have added a couple of detail shots so you can read inscriptions.
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Here are a couple more interesting stones.  Note that in the first picture the footstone is also a stump to match the headstone.  I’ve never seen that before.
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I haven’t forgotten about the babies, although there were not as many here.
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Besides my DMV adventure, I drove by this cemetery almost every day for the first 18 years of my life.  It’s just down the street from Cumberland Estates, where I grew up.  I’m so glad I finally stopped.
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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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What's in a Name? A Visit to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery isn’t exactly off the beaten track.  It’s right next to the church of the same name, not far from Kingston Pike on Lyon’s View, just down the street from Cherokee Country Club.  You’ve probably driven by it hundreds of times, like I had before I finally decided to stop there one day.  That was a few years ago, before I was blogging my graveyard adventures.  So last weekend I went back.
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Some changes have taken place since my last visit here.  At that time a portion of the cemetery was completely overgrown.  And I don’t mean with weeds.  There was a small forest on one side that had grown right up around the graves!  But that’s gone now.  The photo below shows part of the formerly overgrown area.  Some of the part I didn’t photograph has been planted with new grass.
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There’s more evidence of sprucing up going on, such as the replacement/repair of the chain link fence around the property:
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Of course there is still room for improvement . . .
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But I’m not going to complain since the hole in the fence led to another adventure.  If you are familiar with the area you will know what is right next door, behind a high stone wall.  Well, below is a photo of the INSIDE of that wall and  a couple more (quickly snapped) shots of what lies within.
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After experiencing that little thrill, I went back to the graveyard and explored some more.  This graveyard is quite old.  Although the plaque on the church above indicates that this new building replaced another built in 1887, other internet resources indicate that the church opened in 1870.  Yet the earliest interments were in 1858.  The majority of the burials took place in the first three decades of the last century.  There are a few as late as the 1970s, but I saw no recent burials.
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MP 19There were some hand-carved tombstones.
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Of course, there were little ones.
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One of the interesting things about visiting local cemeteries is the fun of seeing familiar names, and realizing that the roads you’ve traveled your whole life, for example, are named after actual people, people who owned the land once upon a time, and here they are!  But the roads in nearby Sequoyah Hills are not named after the residents of this cemetery.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery is an African-American graveyard, and many of the people buried here were born into slavery and freed by the war.  Their hard work for the most part was not rewarded by having local roads named after them.    I could not find the reference but I seem to recall having read that many of the people buried here worked at what was then known as the insane asylum, just down the road.  This was partly confirmed by a blog post I found while researching the stones below:
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I was interested in these stones because of the unusual names, which I also thought would be easier to research because they were uncommon, and also because of Mr. Crump’s military service.  I learned from his great-great-granddaughter’s blog post that Mr. Crump, born the slave of Martha Crump in West Tennessee, fought in the Union Army.  He bought property in Knoxville and raised a family here, with both his son and grandson working as bakers at what we now remember as Lakeshore.  She writes that “Lavon Crump [her grandfather] often repeated to his children the importance of a good family name . . . [when] he retired [after 50 years of service] he brought home a gold stick pin and his parking sign from the Hospital lot, it read: Honorable Lavon Crump. His placement of the sign at the corner of his yard was another expression of his pride.” Her mother, she says, stressed the importance of “[h]ow we transformed a slave brand into a meaningful family name.”
Names are important.  Remembering people is important.  Sometimes a grave marker is the only hard evidence that a person existed.  And that’s one reason I visit graveyards.
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A Churchyard Without a Church: Branch Hill Cemetery

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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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The Walker name predominates here, with a healthy dose of Hardins and a scattering of Rathers and Sharps, among others.
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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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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:
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This stone for two brothers, something I don’t remember ever seeing before:
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And this one of a young physician:
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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:
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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.
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Coming up next:  Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Lyons View Drive. 

Family Ties

We were away for the weekend on a mini-vacation–one that was full of family, even though we left almost half of our own family at home to fend for themselves. (Can you guess which half?)
On Thursday, we left home relatively early and made our way up to Winchester, Virginia where we lodged in a motel that provided what we consider the necessities (pool, free wi-fi, free breakfast) and precious little else.  The next morning, after availing ourselves of both breakfast and the pool, we drove 40 minutes to West Virginia to visit my first-cousin-once-removed, her husband, and their FIVE little girls.  [edit: Their family has since expanded to include twin baby boys–their second set of twins!] What a welcoming committee they were!  Lorelei was in heaven for several hours, and then they all came outside to wave us along our way . . .
Forty minutes back the way we came, to Berryville, to start the weekend’s main event:  a yearly reunion of the descendants of John and Ella Neighbors.
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John and Ella were my husband’s great-grandparents.  They had ten children, four of whom I was lucky enough to get to meet, but all of whom are gone now.  Gathered for this weekend were eight members of the third generation, four from the fourth, and three from the fifth. (Plus all the spouses, of course!)
I didn’t take any pictures at the actual reunion, because I was too busy having fun and talking to everyone!  These two shots below were taken by Martha Miller Nicholson, John’s first-cousin-once-removed, who is an excellent photographer.
Here’s most of the group:
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And here are the youngest attendees:
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Left is Lexi, who is actually in the same generation as John! Lorelei and Ella, along with William, were the only fifth generation members in attendance.
The Neighbors family originated in Lynchburg, Virginia, where many of its members still live, and we have attended reunions there before.  Next summer we are supposed to go to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and if we can convince everyone to make the trip, maybe we will meet in Tennessee the next year!
While the reunion was definitely the highlight of our little vacation, we took a couple of side trips.  We went to Mass on Sunday at Holy Cross Abbey, also located in Berryville.
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After Mass we went to look at the gift shop but it was closed (we did come back later in the day).  We enjoyed the flowers and the stray cats (that, of course, was William’s favorite part).  Apparently the monk who runs the gift shop is VERY fond of cats.  There were cats, cat houses, cat beds, and cat food EVERYWHERE.  We didn’t get any pictures of the kitties but here are some of the flowers:
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After the abbey, we went on a little drive to see (the outside of!) Mount Weather, a nearby secret military installation.  This is the one where all the important government types will go for safety if the White House is under siege.
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Now we are excited for the end of our X-Files marathon, in which Mulder breaks into Mount Weather!  Perhaps we can head to Area 51 on our next vacation. 🙂
So that was our long weekend (Thursday through Sunday).  We didn’t get to explore much of Winchester, which is apparently chock full of historic sites and has a nifty little downtown shopping/dining area, because we had to get some work done on our car.  But there’s always next time.
 

My First "Foreign" Cemetery

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This cemetery post is a little different, because it’s not a Knoxville cemetery we are talking about.  Teddy’s friends thought he was kidding when he told them that my favorite site on the tour he gave me when I visited him at school was the graveyard at the gates, but you know me well enough by now to understand.

It was the first time I’d visited and out-of-town cemetery since I started writing about them, and I noticed things that probably seem obvious when you think about it, except I never thought about it before.

What struck me first were the names.  Walking through a graveyard in Knoxville is like looking through the phone book (back when we used phone books!).  The names are familiar.  Our schools and roads are named after the folks in our graveyards.  We go to school with their descendants.  We KNOW those people, in a sense.

It’s not the same when you are in another state.  I saw many names I had never even heard of before, names that left us chuckling sometimes because they were long ethnic names that we couldn’t begin to pronounce.

It makes sense, if you think about it.  People came to this country, settled down somewhere, started families, and eventually had descendants bearing their name.  At the moment, there are no Shollys in any graveyard in Knoxville.  (Pennsylvania is full of them.) A couple of hundred years from now, who knows?

Another difference is a matter of topography–it’s FLAT up there.  Our small graveyards are sometimes flat, but a big one like this one would be having a few rolling hills!
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Notice, too, that the stones are closer together than what you’ve seen in the pictures I usually post here, and that there seems to be more variation in the shape and style of the stones.

For example:
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That’s another difference, too–the naming of children and grandchildren–who are NOT buried there, lest you misunderstand–on a married couple’s stone.  I found that odd but endearing:  it shows what these people are most proud of and what they want to be remembered for.

One thing that wasn’t different:  There are always the babies. 🙁
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And more than the usual array of unusual, moving, and interesting epitaphs.

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I do not know who he was, or why he wanted it on his tombstone, but that last is a quotation from the first line of Beowulf, written in Old English.
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This is an entire letter that the young man buried here wrote to his mother on the occasion of his grandmothers death.
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I love this quotation.

There are some mausoleums here as well, added recently.
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And those ethnic Catholic folk weren’t the first people in these parts:
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So we are walking along, and I’m lecturing Teddy about all the stuff I’ve written up above about the unfamiliar names and stuff, when I spotted this:
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There’s a sad story behind this one, which I just learned today as I did my research for this post.
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Meghan was a Notre Dame swimmer, a freshman, who died when the team bus overturned during a snowstorm, only a couple of miles away from the school.  My paternal grandmother was a Beeler, and I wanted to be able to find a relationship between us,  so I spent a couple of hours falling down one of those rabbit holes that are surely familiar to any of you who do genealogical research.  It was interesting for sure, but if my guess (and it’s definitely a guess) is correct, her family is descended from Christopher Beeler, not Ulrich, so if we are related at all the connection is back in Germany over 400 years ago.

Still, it was a reminder of the surprises in every cemetery, and the stories behind every stone.

Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery

Since I’ve been spending so much time in South Knoxville lately, it made sense to make a stop at Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery. IHB 4
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The church and cemetery were established in 1860, although this is not the original church building.   Many South Knoxvillians of renown (meaning that streets and schools are named for them, even if you don’t know anything else about them!) were charter members.
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South Knoxvillians will recognize many names in this cemetery.
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This is a picturesque, nicely kept cemetery, with a minimum of breakage and brush.
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There were an unusual amount of stones with memorable epitaphs and ornamentation.
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Y’all know how the baby graves get to me.  Especially note the last in this series.
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I found this stone amusing–I suppose her name is a corruption of Perdita.  I have a great-great grandmother named Perlina, which may be a corruption of Paulina.
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This is a good cemetery to explore because it’s attractive, and not tiny but not so big that you couldn’t look at every stone, if you wanted to.
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Finally, it’s always a good surprise to find a relative where you least expect one!  I only spent a few minutes checking, but I’m pretty sure this lady was my fourth cousin once removed. Update:  A reader sent me the link to her photo and obituary.  She sounds like a lovely person.
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And now I am caught up and can visit a new graveyard this weekend to share with you.

Graveyard Roundup

I stopped visiting graveyards, because I haven’t written about them for awhile and was getting behind.  In this “round-up” post, I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been lately, so that I can go back to my explorations next weekend.
Emily and I took the little kids hiking in the mountains a few weeks ago, and we made a stop at the graveyard in front of Little Greenbrier School.
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This is a graveyard, not a cemetery.  There is nothing manicured or fancy about it.
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All the same, it looks a lot better now than it did the last time I visited it (this being a stop along our favorite hike to the Walker Sisters’s Place and just a stone’s throw from Metcalf Bottoms, our go-to Smokies picnic spot).   Then, most of the stones were . . . stones.  Rocks, really, carved by hand and illegible.  You can still see them in the picture above, but someone has now done this:
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This just delights me, because as you know by now, I can’t stand the thought of people being utterly forgotten.  I want to be able to at least know the names of the folks who rest in the graveyards I visit.
Here you will find lots of Walkers, and Ogles, and other names familiar to anyone who lives in the area or visits many of the graveyards in the Park, reminders that this was once a community, not a tourist attraction.
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And always the babies.
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Closer to home, I visited an even older graveyard, one I first discovered many years ago while exploring a side path in a favorite park.
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The park is Charter E. Doyle Park in South Knoxville.  If you don’t live in South Knoxville, you’ve probably never been there, but it’s a great park, with walking tracks, this trail,  TWO dog parks (by size of dog), tennis courts, picnic tables, a shelter, a playground, a baseball diamond, and lots of grassy space.
And up a side trail, surrounded by a chain link fence covered in honeysuckle, and sadly overgrown . . .
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There’s an old family burial ground.  I don’t know who all might be here, but one person was considered important enough to deserve some special notice.
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That’s a pretty cool discovery for an afternoon at the park, don’t you think?
Its been two months since I visited Valley Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, which is another one I drive by regularly and so was always interested in.  However,for whatever reason, I just didn’t find that “special something” there that compelled me to write its story.  Still, I want to include it in this roundup for anyone who might be interested.
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It’s not in good condition, which always distresses me and often surprises me, especially in a graveyard adjacent to a thriving (judging by its website) congregation.  The first burials here took place in the early 1900s and the last in the 1920s; it does not seem to be in current use today.
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Hodge (sometimes Hodges) was the dominant surname here, along with Kidd, Smith, Gray, and Yarnell.
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I’m always on the lookout for interesting epitaphs like the one below.
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Y’all know the baby gravestones always get to me.  And this one was especially sweet:  “Baby Ray.”  Bless his little heart, and his parents’ too.
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The best feature of this graveyard is its bucolic setting.
VGB 1
That’s the end of “Adventures in Cemeteries” for this week!  I’ve got one local and one out of town one yet to write about before I will be quite caught up, but each deserves its own post.
Would you like to read about the other graveyards I’ve visited?  You can find them below.
Dust to Dust
Graveyards and Country Roads
A Visit to Third Creek Cemetery
And This Is Why They Call It Gallaher View
An Afternoon at Grassy Valley
Dutchtown, Loveville, Graveyards, and Progress