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Friday, December 31, 2010

MIA: Nance Cemtery, Grainger County, TN

So we drove on one lane backroads all over Grainger County...all to get to the intersection of Howell & Reece Road. Trust me, when I say one-lane backroads I mean roads that were more like paved trails through the woods. We went onto Reece Road a little ways until we got to an old white house. There we parked and got out. No cemetery anywhere in sight. One way on the road went up to a house with a "no-tresspassing" sign. The other way was a muddy two-track down the side of the hill. I walked down this a little until I came to another "no-tresspassing" sign. Thus, we gave up. No luck. After that disheartening trip (and the one to try and find gravestones for a person on we gave up and came home.
I get so irritated not being able to find cemeteries. Its not like they just disappear!! Humans enter the equation at some point and either by moving the stones, failing to mark them well in the first place or not tending the cemetery itself they vanish.
If a cemetery is on your land I think that you should NOT be able to lay claim to it and label it "no tresspassing"! That is horrendous. The land really isn't yours anyway. In fact those that are buried on that land have more claim to it than you do. They are the ones who labored to change it from a vast wilderness to cleared pastures and hollers for your to build your home or park your disgusting double-wide on.

There's a cemetery up THERE?

Okay, I have been to a lot of cemeteries. Some have been really easy to find, some have been so sketchy you wish you had a weapon. That being said, I am off to find 3 of them today. One is going to be easy. I am only going there to "pay-it-forward" to someone on with a photo request for a cemetery four miles from my house. The second one we are looking for is Nance Cemetery in Grainger County, Tennessee. I am related to the Nance's through their marriages to Vineyard's who marry into the Guy family. It shouldn't be that hard to find. The third one will be...interesting. We have looked for Vineyard Cemetery twice in Blount County, Tennessee. We drove past it and didnt see it, I did more research and then we tried to find it again with no luck. Now, thanks to Google maps I discovered that it is actually on top of a hill, away from the road and will likely requires us to do some climbing, tromping through the woods and possibly trespass. Should be an exciting day!
The essential tools for any genealogist exploring cemeteries are:

  • a GPS system (to find your way)

  • Digital voice recorder (great when transcribing cemeteries or describing them)

  • clip board, paper and a writing utensil that is waterproof

  • binoculars

  • pepper spray (not all cemeteries are in safe places so I recommend pepper spray even if it is just for peace of mind)

  • compass

  • sturdy shoes (I recommend water proof boots)

  • brush or something to wipe graves off with

  • flour (yep, like you use when baking) is non-toxic and great for headstones that are hard to read and flat

  • gloves (in case your have to clear debris from graves or remove moss)

Check out the picture for my "must-have" items for my cemetery trips today!


Before you ask, I am not LITERALLY digging up bones. Genealogy is essentially the digging for your roots be it at cemeteries or using primary sources. I have been working on my family's genealogy since 2001. Not that long in historical time but long enough for me to learn a few things.
I have went on vacations that revolve around finding old home sites, cities where relatives once walked and did business, cemeteries where ancestors are buried, and libraries that records.
My family roots span from Wurttemburg, Germany, Swizerland, Scandinavia and various places in between to the United States. All of the migrations of both sides of my family tree took place before the American Civil War. One line of my family (Doane) came to America just after the Mayflower. The "father" of this line, John Doane, can be found on documents next to Miles Standish and John Alden! WOW!
Most of the branches of my family are not this notable. Most of my family were illiterate or semi-literate farmers who lived in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, Virginia, central and eastern Tennessee. Granted there are a few exceptions to this and there are "spurs" off the main line of my family that went to Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, California, Oregon, and other places.
One of my other main interests is in cemeteries. I love to find the really old ones and just walk around and read the headstones. There is so much history to be found there! When I find surnames in counties that I know I have family I take pictures and see if they are relatives. I have a site as well where I have many of my relatives graves with pictures and genealogical information.
I cannot imagine ever being done with the quest for my roots. It is a life-long all-encompassing passion and one I hope some day to pass on to future generations.