Branch Hill 1

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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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Branch Hill 8

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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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Branch Hill 7

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Branch Hill 15

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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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Branch Hill 4

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Branch Hill 29

Branch Hill 30



Coming up next:  Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Lyons View Drive. 


Y’all, I’m getting so excited!  Emily and I finished another section of Urban Wilderness Trails last weekend.  We look to be on track to get our badges before the end of the year.  And really, we will have walked way more than 40 miles, since walking all of them necessarily entails walking some of them more than once.

This time we finished up the William Hastie trails, which is actually where we began this project back in May.  Let me come right out and say that these are probably my least favorite trails.  There’s nothing wrong with them; they just aren’t as interesting to me personally as many of the others.  These pictures below show something pretty interesting and actually downright terrifying, though:

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Unfortunately the photos don’t really do it justice, but that’s a sinkhole.  A gigantic scary deep sinkhole.  The first trail off the parking lot is named Sinkhole for a reason.  As you walk you’ll see a trail off to your right that leads right up to the edge of that.  We were too scared to get close enough for a good picture, but we saw evidence that some adventurous (insane?) people had been climbing down into the thing.  To which I say, they are welcome to it.

Moving right along, we enjoyed the cool fall weather.  Walking three miles in the fall is a whole lot different than doing the same hike when it’s 90 degrees.  There are trade offs, though–no wildflowers, or at least not many.  Still, we had this instead:

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See the collapsing boards in the second picture, though?  That particular bridge (not a bridge, exactly–a raised path over an area prone to mud) was rotting right through.  No big problem when you are walking, but it could be dangerous for an inattentive mountain biker.  Looking at some of the trails they bike on intentionally, though, I imagine they’d probably just look at it as another challenge!

I always have to take a couple of path pictures when we walk:

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I’m really pleased with the way that bottom one turned out.  I wasn’t sure my iPhone would be able to pick up that tunnel effect.

Most of the Hastie trails are through the woods, but the main trail (Margaret Road) was originally a KUB access road and was kept cleared.  In fact, there’s one part that in the summer was a meadow festooned with wildflowers:

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That same part is now a somewhat chilly desert with no plant life in sight.  But the absence of trees allowed us to appreciate the blue sky.  Have you ever noticed that the sky in autumn is a deeper, more intense blue?

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Remember, if you don’t have time to get up to the mountains to enjoy the fall colors, the Urban Wilderness is much closer!

For more South Knoxville walks, see below:

Walking in South Knoxville I

Walking in South Knoxville II

Walking in South Knoxville III

Walking in South Knoxville IV

Walking in South Knoxville V

Walking in South Knoxville VI

Walking in South Knoxville VII





It’s been a lovely day and a busy Sunday which is not over yet, but I’m taking a few moments to link up with RAnn for Sunday snippets, a weekly gathering of Catholic bloggers sharing their week’s posts.

Question of the Week:  Have you ever tried the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office)?  Why or why not, and, if so, is it something you pray regularly? 

No, I have not.  I don’t have any kind of formal prayer routine, which is something I would like to remedy at some point.  If there is one things I would wish it is that I could be more holy. Sigh.

Now for the round up:

I was out of town from Tuesday night until Friday night, visiting my sister in Dallas, and despite good intentions I did not write a word while I was there.  I did, however, post a few things at the beginning of the week, which I hope you will enjoy!

A post about what’s going on in my garden right now.

Two photo posts, for new linkups I am participating in:  Silent Sunday and My Sunday Photo.

Thanks for reading!


Anyone who reads my blog knows I love graveyards, and there’s no time like autumn for walking in them.  As the year dies, it seems natural to think about our own mortality.  And the beauty of the dying leaves reminds us of the glory our faith tells us lies beyond the grave.


Finally, a week in which I can participate in Sunday Snippets, a weekly linkup of Catholic bloggers hosted by RAnn, and actually have several posts to share!

First, though, this week’s question:

Question of the Week:  Share a family sacramental memory–the cute thing the kid said, the cake at the party, you in your wedding dress, the family gathered around the baby–anything is fair game as long as it at least sort of involved a sacrament.

Here’s a fun one. First the picture, then the explanation.

Jake's BaptismThis picture was taken at the reception we had following Jake’s baptism (August 1994, when he was six months old).  Those are his godparents in the picture, and the reason they are wearing those expressions is that they just saw the little piece of paper we had tucked into each napkin, which read: “Please save the date for this same time next year for the baptism of Jake’s little brother or sister, expected in February.”  And there was yet more fun to come at this party.  John got up to make a speech, as he is wont to do.  He announced that he had just been offered a job (he had graduated from law school just months before).  Then he dropped the final bombshell, telling everyone he was planning to join the Church (something no one was expecting).  It was a big day all around.

Now on to what I’ve posted this week!

I led off the week with It’s Good to Be Insured: An Obamacare Update, sharing what a blessing this has been to our family.

Next up was Beneath the Ashes, exploring some of my lingering feelings about what we lost in the fire that destroyed our house three years ago.

Then I shared a recipe post: Low Carb Pumpkin Sausage Soup.

I wrote another installment of my series on local walks, Walking in South Knoxville: In the Homestretch.

Finally, it was back to the graveyard with The Mystery of Lebanon Cemetery.

I hope you will check some of them out!

Fall in the Garden

Summer may be over but you couldn’t tell it by looking at my garden.  For all my lack of planning, it’s still blooming happily.

On the cool side, we have Autumn Joy Sedum:

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Chrysanthemums (which I divided last year–they did great!), verbena (needs dividing and transplanting BADLY), and butterfly bush (planted last year and filling out nicely this year):

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Meanwhile, on the hot side, where there’s less space, we have crazy zinnia action, most all from volunteers, and more mums, also transplants:

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And also this silliness, which isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing but I’m hoping to end up with four nice decorative gourds, grown accidentally:



For next year, I’m planning to continue to expand the cool side out into the yard (till there’s no yard left, eventually).  I absolutely have to move some things.  I always plant everything way too close together, for one thing.  Then some things have just gotten big–the salvia, for example–or are not the right height for their current location–that would be the verbena, which needs to be at the front so it has room for all its crazy spreading action.

There’s no room to add anything on the hot side except in the shadiest part where things keep dying anyway.  So I’m going to come across the walkway and put some matching flowers there, because the volunteer zinnias and marigolds have already let me know that’s what they want to do!

Finally, I took advantage of the wet weather and softened soil yesterday to start planting these:


Lorelei and I planted 15 crocuses throughout the yard for naturalizing.  I’ll add to that each year.  We planted 25 wood hyacinths on the cool side, randomly but near things that won’t be blooming yet when they are.  And we made a start on planting 40 daffodils on a difficult-to-mow hillside which I would like to eventually cover with daffodils and wildflowers.  I had to stop after the first three because 1) It’s hard to do anything while kneeling on a wet grassy hill and 2) My yard consists of red clay mixed with gravel and it is just exhausting to dig in.  But we will persevere and see the rewards in the spring.


This isn’t my best picture of the week but to me it captures the feeling of a certain kind of wet fall day as well as the spirit of mystery and adventure that comes from driving random country roads, just for fun.

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