Monday, November 30, 2009

Battle of Franklin, TN Unknown Soldier is reburied

Back in May of this year, the news broke that the bones of a Civil War soldier had been found at a construction site in Franklin. It really came as no surprise to me, I'm more surprised that it doesn't happen more often. It probably does, but most people don't seem to care and dirt is hauled away from construction sites daily without nary a bother to look for anything historical. And I'm still rankled by the thought of the mass grave underneath the Dominoes Pizza across from the Carter House, but that's a whole other story.

On this day in May, workers uncovered the bones and a few artifacts while digging for the foundation of a new condo complex. The location is next to the new Target shopping center, which sits near the base of Winstead Hill. It was never determined whether or not this soldier was Union of Confederate, though most of the fabric found was of a blueish hue. There were Southerners who wore blue, and the area was decidedly an area where Confederates would have died. But there were skirmishes in the years leading up to the Battle of Franklin, which took place on November 30, 1864. Skirmishes everywhere from Columbia to Nashville. And on the day of the battle, there were Union forward pickets who possibly could have been this far south of the main lines of battle.

But it matters not for who this soldier fought. It matters that he died fighting for his country, whether it be to keep the Union whole or for the rights that Southerners so dearly wanted. He was someone's son, possibly someone's husband, father or brother. He was surely missed when he did not return home. And he deserved to be buried an honorable burial, just as any other soldier who does his duty deserves. And admirably, the City of Franklin gave that to him. He becomes the Unknown Soldier of Franklin, buried at the foot of a new memorial to all of the unknown soldiers who died in the area.
The morning of the funeral was a fittingly moody gray, chilly, windy day. And the crowds were much larger than I expected. The morning began with a service in honor of the soldier, and all soldiers really, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church near Five Points in Franklin. At the conclusion, the casket was laid onto a horse drawn caisson, covered in both the flags of the Union and of the Confederacy, and led through the steets of Franklin.
I was amazed to learn that attending the funeral were two actual sons of Civil War veterans. On the left is Harold Becker, 91, son of Charles Becker who fought in the 128th Indiana Infantry, and on the right is James Brown, 97, son of James H. H. Brown who fought in the 8th Georgia Infantry.
Following the caisson were the women mourners dressed in the period clothing.
Many reenactors also attended and marched in the procession. They represented many of the states that fought during the Civil War.
At Rest Haven Cemetery, the crowd was quite large. I was somewhat surprised to see so many.
The casket being brought through the cemetery by Union and Confederate pall bearers.
At the end of the graveside service was a twenty-one gun salute.
Reenactors from the different states that were represented at the Battle of Franklin brought some soil from their home states to be buried with the unknown soldier. They took turns placing the dirt onto the grave and giving a respectful salute.
This is the memorial to the Unknown Soldier of the Battle of Franklin. This was the best shot I could get of it that day. I will certainly get back to get better photographs of it one day. It was created from the limestone columns that once graced the Capitol building in Nashville. The old columns were replaced in the 1950s. There is a memorial to the stonecutters on the Capitol grounds now. Most of the rest of the columns sit in a field near the old Tennessee State Prison off Briley Parkway.
The pine box, lowered into the ground, covered with the soil of the possible states he could have called home.
I didn't want to be negative at all in this column that is dedicated to someone who died 145 years ago, but I spent a bit of time at the memorial being a bit ticked off. There are far too many people out there with absolutely NO respect for the dead. How much I would loved to have gone over and smacked this guy upside the head. But he wasn't the only one. I saw people on the opposite side of the crowd who could not have actually been 10 feet tall-and I doubt were sitting on someone's shoulders, unless that someone was a weightlifting champion. And the conversations I overheard from many made me wonder why they bothered to come out for this. But then again, there are far too few people these days who have any respect for the dead or for the past. At least my daughter won't be one of them when she grows up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grassmere Cemetery, Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Davidson County, TN

The last thing you might expect to see at a trip to the zoo is a cemetery! There is one at the Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee. The historic house here was built in 1810 by Michael C Dunn. Dunn later sold the home to his son-in-law, Lee Shute, who later gave the home and land to his son, William and new bride, Lavinia. One of their daughters married Willam Croft, and his daughters, Elise and Margaret, eventually came to live at Grassmere until their deaths. It was their idea to leave the home and land to the city of Nashville as a place to study animals and nature.

The land was owned by the Children's Museum for many years. Eventually, in 1996, the Nashville Zoo at Joelton closed and moved to the Grassmere Park. Despite being a zoo featuring wild animals such as tigers and elephants, the area around the Croft home has been maintained as a working 19th century farm. The home can be toured, there is a full garden, barn with farm animals, and the family cemetery.

Those buried here include original owner Michael C Dunn(1770-1853) and his wife Elizabeth(1781-1837); his son John R Dunn(1803-1836); the Croft sisters, Margaret(1889-1974) and Elise(1894-1985); and various other family members. Supposedly the Shute family members were moved to Mt Olivet in Nashville, but the marker for Lavinia is still here and there are no markers for them at Mt Olivet.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I'd like to apologize for my lapse during the summer months! I spent a good deal of time away from home and with family. I appreciate all those who have posted comments and who have been checking in looking for new posts.

I hope to get back to making timely posts on the cemeteries I have visited around the south.

Thanks again for reading!

Bakers Creek Church Cemetery, Blount Co, Tennessee

Bakers Creek Church-This Presbyterian church was established in 1756. Its first pastor was the Rev. Gideon Blackburn who served an extensive circuit in the area. Elizabeth Paxton Houston, mother of Sam Houston, is buried here. [from historical marker]
I visited Bakers Creek Cemetery on July 24, 2009. It is located about 8 miles southwest of Maryville, south of Hwy 411, left on Brick Mill Rd and right on Old Niles Ferry Pike. It is named for nearby Baker's Creek, a tributary of the Little Tennessee River.
As stated on the historical marker, this is the burial place of the mother of Sam Houston. Elizabeth Paxton Houston died September 8, 1831 in her 74th year. Sam was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, but the family moved to the Maryville area after the death of his father in 1807. While the family lived southwest of Maryville, Sam eventually settled northeast of town and founded a school-the first ever school built in the state of Tennessee. Sam is buried in Huntsville, Texas.

This cemetery is also the resting place for 5 Revolutionary War soldiers: Samuel Thompson, Andrew Kennedy, Magnus Tullock, Samuel Henry, and Thomas Montgomery.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taliaferro-Cole Cemetery, Williamsburg, Virginia

This small cemetery is located with the historic district of Colonial Williamsburg. It is near the corner of S. Nassau St and W. Francis St, in a field. At times there are sheep in the field, as seen in the top photo. Other times, the sheep are gone and a small outer fence's gate may be open. It is nearly directly behind the Taliaferro-Cole House located on Duke of Gloucester Street.

There are 4 marked graves here, none of which are known to be Taliaferro's. Charles Taliaferro was a coachmaker who lived in the home for nearly 30 years starting in the 1770s. The Coles bought the home in the early 1800s and used it as a post office and general store.

Buried here are:
Catherine B Cole, child of RF & ER Cole, 1845-1846
Jesse Cole, son of RF & ER Cole, 1850-1866
George Washington Labby, son of Pleasant Labby, 1825-1855
and the last marker which only states
"Sweet Daisy aged 23 months and 4 days"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Old Isham's Grave, Noah, Coffee County, Tennessee

Yes, not all cemeteries listed here are "people" cemeteries! This is the grave of "Old Isham". It is located in Coffee County, on French Brantley Rd, between Interestate 24 and Hwy 41.
"Old Isham" was the honored mount of General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham, a native of Nashville and a Confederate General during the Civil War. The horse was named for Tennessee Governor, Isham Harris. After the war, Cheatham took Old Isham back to his farm in Tennessee. When Isham died, he was buried here with full military honors. Cheatham died in 1886 and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rosehill Cemetery, Meridian, Lauderdale County, MS

Located in Meridian, on 40th Avenue. Large, active cemetery.
Many Confederate dead are buried here. A monument and large sign board list the known dead from the Confederate states who died in area battles. There are also many markers of local Mississippi soldiers who died later and are buried here.

The most interesting people in this cemetery may be the "King and Queen of the Gypsies", Emil and Kelly Mitchell. Emil was born around 1857 in Brazil, he died in Alabama in1942. His first wife, Kelly, was born around 1868 and died in 1915 during childbirth. Thousands attended her funeral. And now people travel from all over to lay offerings at her grave. On the day we visited in 2005, there were a number of wine bottles and many Mardi Gras beads(as seen in photo). Other members of the family are buried to either side of them. The gravesite is even listed on the website Roadside America!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Andersonville National Cemetery, Macon County, Georgia

Located at the Andersonville National Historic Site in Macon County. This was the site of probably the most famous and largest Confederate prison camp from the Civil War. It housed upwards of 45,000 Union prisoners of which nearly 13,000 died of disease and starvation, among other causes. The cemetery contains 13,714 graves, 921 being marked "unknown".
A group of prisoners who took advantage of their fellow soldiers was known as the "Andersonville Raiders". On July 11, 1864, six of the leading raiders were hanged. They are buried here, but separate from the soldiers they terrorized.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Greenwood Cemetery, Metairie, Orleans Parish, Louisiana

Established in 1852 by the Fireman's Charitable and Benevolent Association. The first New Orleans graveyard not to be walled in. The prominent monuments near the front gates can easily be seen by passersby on the nearby Interstate 10. It is in a "cemetery rich" area of town, with Metairie across the interstate, and Cypress Grove across Canal Street, and numerous others in the area.
Confederate Memorial. The faces on the four sides are of Generals Robert E Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Leonidas Polk(a Bishop of Louisiana) and Albert Sydney Johnston. Below the monument is a mass grave of 600 unknown Confederate soldiers.

A cemetery that I have visited many times and always look forward to visiting again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Palmer Chapel Cemetery, Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

Located in Big Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is at the top of a high hill across the road from the Palmer Chapel. Many of the valleys original settlers are buried here, Bennett's, Caldwell's and Palmer's.

This marker says:
Young Bennett 1812-1894
and wife Allie Mease Bennett 1811-1891
Among the first permanent settlers of Cataloochee (early 1840s), They are buried near this spot. A son, Creighton(CSA) is buried nearby.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Smith Cemetery, Poquoson, Virginia

Located in Poquoson, off Brickhouse Ln, just east of White Creek Rd/Rt 172. This cemetery was founded in 1851 by Henry Smith in memory of Martha Presson Smtih. The marker says it was called Oxford in 1637, and Ashland in 1833. This is an active cemetery, and there are many more recent graves here than the only one I photographed below.

This marker with these names is located at the foot of this brick grave covering.
Martha Presson Smith 1802-1850
Frances Topping Watkins 1826-1851
Henry Smith Jr 1824-1864
Henry Smith Sr 1798-1866
Sarah Smith Curtis 1837-1869
Walter Martin 1805-1881

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

James Cemetery, Smyrna, Rutherford County, TN

Located on the small rise in the yard near the bush shown in the photo. Tarrytown Drive. All markers are down, broken and flat.

The family that are buried here once lived in the beautiful old home that is one street north, Carter Lane. After the elder James' passed away, one of the daughters, Mollie James(who never married), sold the home to Houston Carter(for whom the street is now named).

William R James 1808-1897
Elizabeth Caroline James 1819-1874
Nannie R James White 1843-1903
Garrett T James 1845-1874
Mary T Walpole 1821-1892

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee

Located on South Holtzclaw Ave, between E Main and Bailey Ave. Visited in 2007.

This National Cemetery was formed after the Battle for Chattanooga in 1863. Major General George H Thomas chose the location, facing Missionary Ridge on one side and Lookout Mountain on the other. By 1870 there were over 12,800 internments including the fallen from battles around the area and Sherman's men who had fallen during his march through Georgia.

There are also 78 German prisoners of war who died while being held during World War I.
Probably the most impressive monument here is the one erected in 1890 by the state of Ohio to the memory of "Andrews Raiders". Named for the group's leader, a civilian scout, James J Andrews, the group consisted of 22 Union volunteers. The "Raiders" stole a locomotive, The General, in 1862 in northern Georgia, in order to disrupt Confederate supplies going between Chattanooga and Atlanta. The train was eventually caught and some of the "Raiders" were hung as spies. Most of the men later received the Medal of Honor(though Andrews himself was a civilian and not eligible). The eight who were executed are buried here, around the monument.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Florence City Cemetery, Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama

Located on East Tennessee Street in Florence, Alabama. Visited August 2008.

Recently placed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. There are many veterans of previous wars here, including many Civil War veterans, some from the War of 1812 and perhaps even one from the Revolutionary War. The cemetery was established along with the town in 1818, but the oldest known burial is from 1831.

The most interesting story from the cemetery is noted on a historical marker along East Tennessee St. It talks of"Mountain" Tom Clark, who was hanged September 4, 1872. The text from the marker reads:
This notorious outlaw gang leader who boasted that no one would ever run over Tom Clark lies buried near the center of Tennessee Street where now all who pass by do run over him. In 1872 Clark, who terrorized helpless citizens during the Civil War, confessed to at least nineteen murders, including a child, and was hanged with two companions. Although graves were already dug in a nearby field, outraged townspeople interred Clark beneath Tennessee Street this bringing his boast to nought. "

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oak Alley Plantation Cemetery, Vacherie, St James Parish, LA

Location: West of Vacherie, south of the Mississippi River, along the River Road, about 55 miles from downtown New Orleans. Admission is most likely required to view the grounds.

Oak Alley was originally built with slave labor from 1837 to 1839 by J.T. Roman. He was the brother of André Roman, the second Governor of Louisiana. The home is mostly known for it's avenue of tremendous Live Oak trees that lead from the front porch of the home to the Mississippi River. The trees were supposedly flourishing for some years before the house was built.

After several successful and non-successful owners, the plantation was bought and refurbished by the Stewarts in the 1920's. Andrew and Josephine Stewart are buried in the small graveyard on the west side of the home. Her nephew, Zeb Mayhew Jr, took over care of the plantation after her death in 1972. He passed away in 1994 and is also buried there. It is unclear(to me at least) where previous owners may be buried.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eusebia Church Cemetery, Blount County, Tennessee

Located on Highway 411, just inside the Blount County line across from Sevier County. The side street is Burnett Station Rd. The small forts in the area during the late 1700s were often called "stations". This particular area was settled around 1784 and the cemetery was formed after the first death in the group. It was after that, that a Reverend organized a church next to the cemetery.
This cemetery has one of the largest number of Revolutionary War soldiers that I know of in Tennessee. There are 15 buried here. They are:
Andrew Bogle 1753-1813
Joseph Bogle Jr 1759-1811
Joseph Bogle Sr 1730-1790
John Boyd Sr 1745-1838
Andrew Creswell 1757-1838
John Cusick (dates unknown)
Josias Campbell 1760-1823(or 1812, unknown)
Joseph Black Sr 1747-1825
George Hadden 1751-1843
John McCrosky 1757-1843
Samuel McMurray 1755-1821
Michael McNelly 1747-1822
Robert McTeer 1740-1824
John Pickens 1751-1835
John Sharp Jr 1762-1844

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Harpers Ferry Cemetery, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harper Cemetery, located near the top of the hill overlooking the picturesque historical town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Robert Harper, for whom the town is named, set out these 4 acres for a graveyard for the small village he settled. Situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, the town was a volatile player in the War Between the States. John Brown's raid of 1859 happened here and the town changed hands between the North and South eight times during the war.

The small walled area is where the Harper family is buried. Robert Harper had no children and left most of his land to his niece. The town doesn't look very different than it did in the 1860s, the population is still only listed at around 300.