My Graveyard Stories

Since I was a little girl visiting the old churches in the Smokies, I have enjoyed exploring graveyards.  But in March 2014 I took this interest to the next level when I started visiting, photographing, and writing about cemeteries on a regular basis.  I try to tell a story, talk about what feelings or ideas a particular graveyard inspires for me, and include information about the history of the cemetery and some of the people who rest there.
The purpose of this post is to collect all the links to those stories to make it more convenient for interested readers.  I’m also including a “teaser” and a favorite picture. (You’ll notice the quality of the pictures improves as the months go by–at least I think so!)
Dust to Dust
In this first post, I visit Byington Cemetery and Ball Camp Pike Baptist Cemetery, both in Northwest Knox County.
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Graveyards and Country Roads
Brimer Cemetery and Beaver Ridge Cemetery, which are across the road from each other in Northwest Knox County, are covered in this post.
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A Visit to Third Creek Cemetery
This Northwest Knoxville Cemetery inspires thoughts on the huge problem of cemetery upkeep.
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And This Is Why They Call It Gallaher View
Beautiful views abound in this popular post about Edgewood Cemetery in West Knoxville.

An Afternoon at Grassy Valley
Grassy Valley Baptist Church Cemetery in West Knoxville is a reminder of a time when the Kingston Pike area of West Knoxville was still a grassy valley.
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Dutchtown, Loveville, Graveyards, and Progress
This post muses on how graveyards like Concord Mennonite Church Cemetery maintain oases of beauty amidst development in West Knoxville and elsewhere.
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Graveyard Roundup
In this post I visit cemeteries in South Knoxville, Northwest Knox County, and the Great Smoky Mountains.
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Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery
Here I cover a South Knoxville Cemetery in the historic Island Home neighborhood.
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My First “Foreign” Cemetery
This cemetery is farther afield–I took these pictures while visiting my son at Notre Dame.
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The Mystery of Lebanon Cemetery
Another Northwest Knox County cemetery that I found with the help of Siri, and the history of which is a little obscure.LC 8
A Churchyard without a Church
Located in the Solway community, this African-American churchyard is missing its church, but people are still being laid to rest at Branch Hill Methodist Cemetery.
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What’s in a Name
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery is another African-American cemetery, this one no longer active, located in West Knoxville.
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Rocky Hill Baptist Cemetery
This surprisingly large cemetery lies in the heart of the Rocky Hill community.
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The Living and the Dead
In which I explain why and how I write my cemetery stories, in response to a minor uproar caused by my prior post.
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Byrd’s Chapel, Old and New
This graveyard in West Knox County is one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen.
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One Cemetery, Two Names
I’ve driven by this tiny graveyard on Oak Ridge Highway thousands of times, and it was exciting to explore it at last.
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Stanton Cemetery
You’ll find this graveyard along a trail in the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness.
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An Autumn Afternoon at Holloway Cemetery
This “pauper’s cemetery” in West Knoxville is overgrown but picturesque, at least in the autumn.Holliway 27
Smoky Mountain Graveyard
You’ll have to climb a steep hill to find this small family cemetery on the Gatlinburg side of the Smokies.
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A Grey Afternoon at Grigsby Chapel
This Methodist cemetery is in the heart of Farragut.
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Stoney Point Baptist Church Cemetery
This is a charming and well-kept graveyard in the Hardin Valley Community.
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The Desecration of Davenport Cemetery
In which I tell the sad story of a graveyard that has succumbed not to age or neglect but to deliberate destruction.
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Cedar Springs Presbyterian Cemetery: Forgotten But Not Gone
In which I profile a very old cemetery that I would like to see highlighted for its history.
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Middlebrook Cemetery: The One That Made Me Sad
In which I explore a cemetery with a sad and mysterious history.
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Graveyards Can Be Happy Places: A Visit to Hickory Creek
In which I write about a lovely cemetery rich in history that will leave you feeling joyful, not sad.
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Pleasant Forest: A Tale of Two Cemetery
A beautiful historic cemetery marred by one section that is not being properly maintained.
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A History-Filled Afternoon at Lebanon in the Fork Presbyterian Cemetery
A cemetery in a beautiful location, it is home to Knox County’s oldest marked grave.
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Bookwalter Cemetery: Pretty But Not Peaceful
Hemmed in by neighborhoods and a busy road, this beautiful old cemetery has a troubled past.
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I will add to this page every time I write about another cemetery, so you can bookmark it to make sure you don’t miss anything!
 

Smoky Mountain Graveyard

I cannot tell from the map of the footprint of the still ongoing wildfires whether this little graveyard, just a stone’s throw from Gatlinburg, is in the affected area, but there can be little doubt that other graveyards and historic structures have been destroyed and that the views are going to be different for awhile.
There’s nothing like stumbling upon an unexpected graveyard.  And I don’t mean that in a spooky way!  It happens more often than you’d think, as I’ve told you before:  Stanton Cemetery on the Meads Quarry Trail; the tiny graveyard at Charter E. Doyle Park; even Greenbrier Cemetery was a surprise to me when I first encountered it on a family picnic to Metcalf Bottoms.
I love hiking and I love graveyards, and when the two serendipitously collide, all is right in my little world.  So I was tremendously excited to tackle a very steep hill on our recent Smoky Mountain walk, and to be rewarded at the summit by an old family graveyard.
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Fighting Creek Cemetery is a small graveyard (more correctly called William Stinnett Cemetery according to those who ought to know) with a beautiful view, populated mostly by Stinnetts and Bohannons.
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One can hardly imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest, or a more challenging one for those in charge of the burying.  The most recent grave here dates from 1990, and it’s hard to imagine how a heavy modern coffin could make the trip up the hill.
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The earliest burial I saw was from 1877.  There were many stones that couldn’t be read, and probably some that were never written on at all.
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Of course there were babies.  There are always babies.
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There’s a little trail at the back of the cemetery that doesn’t go anywhere anymore, but the picture I took looking back through the leaves is my favorite:
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Neither I nor most of the other folks who hike through the Smokies know the stories of those who gave up their homes so that the land they loved would be forever preserved.  But at least the presence of this graveyard and others like it lets us know they were there, and that we should appreciate their sacrifice.
And if you would like to help the people who now live on the borders of the Park, who have lost homes and businesses in the fire, please consider a donation to Dolly Parton’s My People Fund.
 

Walking in Knoxville: North, South, and Further South

Emily and I can’t stop exercising just because we finished up the Urban Wilderness Trails.  Our weekend treks have been sporadic of late (Christmas holidays, trips out of town, and hello SNOW!) but we’ve explored a number of trails in and around Knoxville in the past few weeks.
First we took a trip to the north the walk on the Songbird Trail in Anderson County near Norris Dam State Park.  We made the mistake (big mistake) of trusting Siri for directions, and it ended up taking us way longer to drive there than it did to walk the nice, flat, paved trail.  We did discover that there are many other trails within the park that we may come back and investigate another time.
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There’s more to South Knoxville than the Urban Wilderness, y’all.  High Ground Park is a new area to explore, on Cherokee Trail near that awful water tower.  There you will find some historic information (because it’s the site of Fort Higley), a trail, and a nice place to “set for a spell.”  We ran into one obstacle in that the parking lot was chained off for no apparent reason, but we found a gravel lot nearby and we persevered.
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Going back to our car we discovered the existence of another, as yet unfinished, trail system (River Bluff Wildlife Area) that I have been reliably informed leads to some amazing bluff views.  As you can see by the picture below, this is under development, but I believe that the eventual plan is that these trails will eventually connect somehow with those of the Urban Wilderness and the ones at Fort Dickerson.
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The trails at IC King Park were another happy South Knoxville surprise.  When I thought of IC King Park at all, it conjured up thoughts of a somewhat sketchy place where brave souls might go fishing.  But it’s been cleaned up now–with even an on-site satellite Sheriff’s Office–and if you don’t mind risking your life on Alcoa Highway to get there, you’ll be rewarded with eight miles of trails.  We just scratched the surface so I’ll write more on that another time, so consider this a preview:
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Finally, we are making it a goal this year to do more hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.  You local folks realize, I’m sure, that thousands of people travel from all over the country every year to enjoy what we have in our own backyard.  And I know growing up we took way too little advantage of that.
So we are going to try to take one Saturday a month to hike in the mountains.  I think there are 900 miles of trails all together and some of them are out of our skill level at this time, so it will be many, many years down the road before I am able to blog that we hiked them all!  We started with a couple of Quiet Walkways that are close to Gatlinburg.
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I’ve often wondered about these little trails and have longed to pull off to explore them, so this was a real treat.  It doesn’t take long before you can’t hear the traffic anymore and there is always something beautiful and surprising to see.  For example, I’ll be devoting another blog post to the graveyard we discovered (on top of a VERY steep hill) on the first walkway.
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We are so lucky, so blessed, to have so much beauty to explore just an hour’s drive away, aren’t we?  In, near, and around Knoxville–so many walks and so little time.