Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.
Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.
My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest – and sometimes further North – so I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a Sunday feature.
This week’s cemetery is Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, TN. The 13-acre cemetery is the final resting place of William Brownlow, a Tennessee governor and U.S. Senator, as well as two other U.S. Senators, eight U.S. Congressmen, 26 mayors of Knoxville and ambassadors, judges, editors, artists, authors, educators, military leaders, physicians and industrialists. There’s also a former Postmaster General buried here.
During the Civil War, control of Knoxville shifted from Confederate to Union forces which is why both sides are represented in the cemetery.
Besides Brownlow, the cemetery also holds the remains of Henry Ashby, one of the youngest colonels in the Confederacy; William Caswell, a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Tennessee who was murdered;
Leonidas Houk, organizer of the 1st Tennessee Infantry; Horace Maynard, one of the leaders of the 1861 Unionist Convention; and Ellen Renshaw House Fletcher, a rebel who kept a diary about her life during the war.
Old Gray Cemetery is my most favorite cemetery to date. It’s also a must-see if you’re ever in the Knoxville area. Like me, you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Until next time….