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 we visit cemeteries in South Knoxville, Northwest Knox County, and the Great Smoky Mountains.


Island Home Baptist Church Cemetery

Here we cover a South Knoxville Cemetery in the historic Island Home neighborhood.


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.

Branch Hill 1

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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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!

It was one of the first beautiful Spring weekends and Emily and I had just finished walking on the Pellissippi Greenway.  Emily isn’t into cemeteries like I am but she humors me when we are out and I want to go look at one.  I didn’t have a particular destination in mind but I figured in Hardin Valley there would be sure to be a graveyard close by.  So I asked Siri and she didn’t disappoint me.
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Stoney Point Baptist Church Cemetery was about three miles away, near Melton Hill Park, on one of those country roads that looks like it is in the middle of nowhere but is surprisingly close to civilization.  Just before the church we passed a new subdivision, but the graveyard backs up to a cow pasture.

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Stoney Point 3It’s a beautiful graveyard, and possibly the most well-tended one I’ve seen.

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Not only that, but probably two-thirds of the graves had flowers on them, even the oldest ones.

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When I was a little girl visiting graveyards in the Smokies, I’d feel sad about the baby graves.  Yet those seemed like long-ago tragedies, born of poverty and antiquated–or absent–medical care.  I didn’t expect to find so many infant graves, in every cemetery I’ve written about.  I don’t get used to them.  My heart aches for the pain their parents must have felt.  Look through these slowly and read some of the inscriptions they chose.

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As I wrote, this cemetery was well-maintained, and its caretaker was in fact mowing the grass when I arrived.  I had a chance to chat with him and to compliment him.  He told me that the few broken stones I saw were the result of a marauding cow from the pasture next door!  He also mentioned that he sometimes puts flowers on one of the baby graves himself.

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The caretaker mentioned that many of the families buried here are related to one another, and that the cemetery is still in active use.  Allison, Dunaway, Hewitt, Houk, Lee, and Pitts are some of the most common family names.  The church acquired the property in 1915, and the earliest burials were members of the Allison family in 1931.  The most recent burial, in 2014, was also a member of the Allison family!  This remains a very active cemetery, with several burials in the past decade.

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Finally, these stones tell only part of a tragic story that I’m hoping one of my readers may be able to fill in for us.  Sam Lee Road is very near to this church, and here’s Sam Lee below. [CORRECTION: This Sam Lee is a cousin to the man for whom the road is named–see interesting and informative comment below.] His wife and his son (I’m assuming) are buried here as well and died on the same day.  I have not been able to find out what led to their deaths–a car wreck, perhaps?  Anyway, it’s a reminder that every headstone has a story behind it and a real person buried beneath it.
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UPDATE:  A reader has confirmed for me that Mrs. Lee and her son were tragically killed in a house fire.

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To see the rest of my graveyard posts, click here.

Well, this has been another banner week for me, y’all!

Monday was my birthday, and who doesn’t like having a little fuss made over them?  Especially when the fuss includes TWO bouquets and a homemade cake (Emily made it).

cake bouquet 1 bouquet 2

Tuesday I published a post related to the situation in Baltimore, and not long after I cross-posted in to BlogHer I got an email telling me it was being featured there!  This was HUGE for me because I’ve never had anything featured anywhere before.  And it just keeps getting better, with my post being the most popular in News and Politics for two days now and almost 1,200 reads!

BlogHer Screenshot

On Wednesday, Knoxville (that’s my hometown, y’all!) got named to yet another top ten list.  I have a post where I keep an ongoing list of those (BECAUSE THERE ARE JUST THAT MANY!) so I quickly updated it and posted it to my favorite Knoxville Facebook group, almost quadrupling my page views for that day (which still amounts to small potatoes to many but was a lot for my blog).

And then on Thursday my friend JcCee nominated me for the Premio Dardos Award!


Premio Dardos (that’s Spanish, y’all!means “prize darts.”  This award recognizes cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values in the form of creative and original writing.  That sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?

Unlike many blogging awards, this doesn’t come with a list of questions for me to answer.  I don’t know why JcCee chose me specifically for this award (which I am so honored to accept), but it’s prompted me to think about how I share those values on this blog.

As many of you are aware, I started this blog when the column I had been writing on life issues for my diocesan paper for several years was canceled.  This blog gave me the opportunity to broaden my focus (and boy did I broaden it!).  But the truth is that I still consider blogging to be a ministry, at least some of the time.  My ethical values are on display in posts like this one.  Posts like this reflect my cultural values.  My personal values are evident in parenting posts like this one.  As for literary values, I’ll leave that one for y’all to decide. :-)

And now it’s my turn to nominate some bloggers to receive this award.  Y’all don’t have to do anything special, just acknowledge who honored you (that would be ME) and share the love with some other bloggers.  I choose the following four women to receive this award.

Lizzi of Considerings: Life in Silver Linings

Crystal of So-So Mom

Amy of Planning Playtime

Kelly of The OK Momma

Let’s make it even easier . . . you don’t have to do anything AT ALL if you don’t want. :-)  Just know that this award means that I admire you and your writing and I am happy to know you.

Ten Things of Thankful

Am I the only person in America who is having a little problem with this?

Please understand, I am NOT bashing this mother.  I am sure she loves her son and was concerned for his safety and his future.  I’m not accusing her of abuse, or saying that her parenting caused her son to be a rioter, or advocating that he be removed from her care.

I am thankful every day that there are no video cameras recording my parenting.  I have slapped my kids.  I have screamed at them.  I have said mean things to them.  Sometimes these tactics were effective at stopping whatever misbehavior motivated them–temporarily.  I doubt they produced lasting change, or if they did it wasn’t for the right reasons.

But seriously, am I the ONLY ONE (I think I might be, judging from every comment I’ve read on this video) who sees the irony in applauding an angry and violent outburst against a child who just engaged in an angry and violent outburst?  Aren’t riots themselves proof that violence begets more violence?  If we want justifiably angry people to channel their anger into peaceful solutions, isn’t that the behavior we should be modeling?

violence quote

Please join the discussion on this post at BlogHer.

Facebook newsfeeds teem with Prom photos this time of year, and–if you are Catholic–with First Communion pictures.  Both are rites of passage that many of us can relate to and which engender nostalgia (or PTSD, depending on what your Prom experience was).

I love attending First Communion Mass, even (especially?) when I don’t have a kid of my own participating.  We made sure to get to church early this morning, knowing that our own second-row pew would be occupied by proud parents but hoping not to have to sit in the very back, or (horrors!) on the wrong side of the church.

The little kids wanted to know what the hurry was and when I told them William moaned, “No! Not First Communion!” I assumed he was concerned about the extra time that would be taken out of his Sunday (a concern apparently shared by many regular parishioners who are noticeably absent on such days).

But no, he said, it was that, “It can’t be time for First Communion again! Time is going by too fast!”

Yes, William is prematurely (he’s in the 7th grade) concerned with the swiftness of the passage of time, something I don’t remember worrying about until I was a Senior in high school worried about leaving my friends to go away to college.

I can’t offer any comfort to William in this area.  If I were to be honest I’d have to tell him, as any parent reading this knows, that time only flies by all the faster as we age, particularly if you have children.  (Christmas, for example, which took an eternity to arrive when I was a child, seems to come around frighteningly fast!)

When all those middle-aged women told me, a young mother with a newborn baby, that it goes so fast, they were annoying, but they were telling the truth.

I remember my own First Communion quite clearly, and it was just over 40 years ago.  Sixteen years ago, I had a very particular idea about the dress I thought Emily should wear to make her First Communion, and it was my very first online purchase (greeted by everyone I told with, “Really? You can DO that?”).  Spring followed Spring, celebration followed celebration, and our last baby made her First Communion just two Aprils ago.

Emily's First Communion

Emily on her First Communion day (1999), in my rose garden in our first house

Jake's First Communion

Jake on his First Communion day (2002), with the peony bush in the front yard of our second house

Teddy's First Communion

Teddy on his First Communion day (2003), in Immaculate Conception Church with our pastor at the time, Father Haley

William's First Communion

William with Lorelei on his First Communion day (2009), in the garden of Immaculate Conception Church

Lorelei's First Communion

Lorelei on her First Communion day (2013), in the Immaculate Conception Church garden

And now I will never have another First Communicant of my own (although I hope to be the grandmother of many!).  Those are days I can’t ever live again, and maybe that explains why there were tears in my eyes as I watched the adorable little ones process down the aisle this morning.

The days are long but the years are short.  I wish I had understood that sooner.

The days are long

Creative K Kids

Nature vs. Nurture? It’s a common argument that may never be settled, but one thing I know about me:  it’s my nature to nurture.

When I was a teenager, I was crazy about babies.  I mean, who doesn’t love a baby but I could hardly stop thinking about how much I wanted one of my own.  It’s a good thing I got married when I was 22 so I could go ahead and get started on that!  I wanted ten but ultimately had to settle for five.

Five Kids

I’m not a big animal lover honestly, but just let a stray cat appear on our porch and I’m suddenly all about helping the kids make friends with it and hoping it stays around.  Over the course of the past twenty years or so we’ve adopted about eight cats this way.

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There are often stray people hanging around our house too.  My oldest son is also a big-time nurturer.  He has friends over all the time, and he is frequently in my kitchen feeding them.  I try to be annoyed by them, but before long find myself calling them sweetie and worrying that they are not taking good care of themselves.

I’m writing this post as part of 1000 Speak for Compassion, which is an initiative to flood the internet with good on the 20th of each month.  Compassion, literally, means to suffer with someone. The Bible tells us that Jesus experienced compassion: Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds,  he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless,  like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus’s compassion for the people led Him to action:  and not only did He nurture them, by healing their sick, sharing God’s word with them, and feeding them, He also called on us to do the same.

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Nurturing springs from a place of compassion.  You hear a baby crying, and instantly you feel what it would be like to be helpless and hungry with no way to alleviate your condition, and you are moved to care for that child.  You see a cold and wet cat sitting outside, and you think of being cold and lonely and want to help.  These connections may not be conscious, but they are there.

Some people are more naturally nurturing than others, no doubt.  But compassion and nurturing are qualities that we can instill in our children, simply by modeling them both in our care for our kids and for those around us.  Children who are nurtured and cared for compassionately are far more likely to do the same than those who are abused and ignored–that’s no mystery.

It should be relatively easy to nurture your own children and treat them with compassion–at least most of the time! But we have to go further if we want to create a nurturing and compassionate society.  Just yesterday a friend posted on Facebook about how children parrot the ugly views of their parents online.  We have to look at the way we are treating others in society, and the way we are talking about them.  Actions may speak louder than words, but words are still important.  If you talk disrespectfully about “the least of these” by calling them lazy or freeloaders, you aren’t exactly modeling compassion for your kids even if you donate food to the church pantry.  You can’t be truly compassionate towards people when you distance yourself from them.  You’ll teach your children a lot more about nurturing and compassion by shaking hands with homeless man on the street and asking him his name than by writing a check to a charity.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. 

Matthew 35-36

#1000 Speak

For more words of wisdom from the 1000 Speak community, please go here.

Creative K Kids

This has been a totally awesome month for me blogwise, y’all.

First, hard to believe but I have been writing this thing for FIVE YEARS now.  My “blogiversary” was April 7.

Next, while I haven’t been writing as much as I want to or should, I’ve been doing a lot of networking, which has borne some exciting fruit.  My Facebook fan page now has over 1,100 likes.  Just a few days ago, I got this award from the blogging networking group I’ve been spending so much time in:
awardAnd then the icing on the cake is that my friend Crystal of So-So Mom, who I met through the above group, nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

I am so touched and honored!  Now, this is an award that comes with an assignment:  I have to answer a list of ten questions that Crystal sent me, and then I get to write my own questions and nominate some bloggers to answer them!

Here we go!

1.  Who is your favorite “Survivor” this season or are you rolling your eyes because you think this is a stupid question?

This is hilarious because I have literally never watched one second of this show this year or any other year, even when the lady from my hometown (Tina Wesson) was on it and won!  The last time I watched t.v. regularly was 14 years ago when the last season of The X-Files was on.  Seriously.  I’ve never seen American Idol either.  Or any other reality-type show except for You Tube clips and one episode of The Bachelor because my little sister made me.

2.  Which drives you crazier, lying or giant mess-making?

If giant mess-making drove me crazy I’d be in the madhouse long ago.  Not that I like it, but with five kids I am surrounded by it.  And I hate being lied to.

3.  What dumb song gets stuck in your head the most often, you know, the one that will be there all day since I brought it up?

Who knows why, and I’m certainly dating myself, but “If” by Bread comes into my head randomly ALL THE TIME.

4.  Do you know your personality type and if so, what is it?

If we are talking Meyers-Briggs, I had to take the test for a job long, long ago, and I was an INFJ at the time.  I’ve occasionally come up INTJ since.  Anyone who knows me in real life will agree that the I and the J are strong for sure.

5.  If you had to do one of these chores the old-fashioned way, would it be cooking or laundry?

How old-fashioned are we talking?  I do most cooking from scratch already, so I’d probably be better off doing that.  I don’t much like the idea of using a washboard and tub with the amount of laundry I do.

6.  When you procrastinate, does it make your work better or worse, or do you almost never procrastinate?

I don’t procrastinate much.  I have too much to do.

7.  What is the last thing you said that you wish you could take back?

I called someone a dog in the manger.  I probably shouldn’t have said that.

8.  What is the prettiest thing you see each day (humans excluded)?

The flowers in my garden.  I’m in heaven this time of year.  There is always something new popping up.

9.  What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Pay off every penny that we owe.  I can tell you what I’d do with every penny, too, having put a lot of thought into it!  However, this won’t happen since I would never buy a lottery ticket.

10. If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you have seen?

I don’t have a burning desire to go back and witness an important event; instead what I would like to do is to go back to various times in the past and walk the streets of my hometown and see what everything looked like back then.

Now I get to pass on some fun to some great bloggers I know!  I nominate the following:

Robin of The Golden Rule Kids

Yanique of Kiddie Matters

Nicole of Mommy Talk

Jccee of Journey to a Healthy Me

Kim of Knock It Off Crafts

Michele of Life Redesign 101

Please answer the following questions.  Link back to me and also come back and comment to let me know when you’ve answered and leave us a link here so everyone can see your answers!

1. How did you choose the name for your blog?
2. What kind of writing did you do in your pre-blogging life?
3. How do you define blogging in YOUR life?  A job, a vocation, a hobby?
4. Provide a link to your favorite blog post.
5. Provide a link to the post you think is the most popular.
6. What was your very first job and what did you learn from that experience?
7. Does your family read your blog and if so does this affect what you say or how you say it?
8. Have you made virtual friends because of blogging?
9. What is your dream job?
10. What do you do to take care of yourself?

Can’t wait to see your answers!  And thanks again to Crystal!


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