Monday, April 15, 2013

McConnico Cemetery

Dear Garner McConnico,

This is what things look like now.

McConnico Meeting House is no more at this location, but the cemetery remains.  Surely you would be surprised at how the stones, so straight and few when you lived, are now askew and broken and many.

The storm of 1909, referred to in the sign must have been quite a tornado, for even the neighbors at Taproot Farm are still talking about it.
The acreage, known as “Nolencrest” was first deeded to John Nolen in 1807. He built the first log house on the farm. The land was farmed in succession by John Nolen, Littleberry Nolen and Stephen Nolen, when in connection with the battles around Franklin the log house was burned in circa 1863, gun fire exchanges are evidenced by Civil War bullets found in the garden. The house was rebuilt as a two-story home on the same location by Milton Berry Nolen, whose family lived there until the tornado of 1887 removed the roofs of every building on the farm except the Springhouse in the cove. The two-story house was wind-damaged beyond repair. Dr. William Stephen Nolen, his wife and five children rebuilt the home and lived in it until the second tornado on April 29, 1909. Once again the home was damaged beyond repair. William “Billy” Nolen rebuilt the house as it stands today. This was the fourth Nolen residence built on the same site.
So your friends and descendants of the Primitive Baptist Church moved to what might be a safer spot, where they are still flourishing and worshiping on Sunday mornings, for I saw them yesterday. The parking lot was small but full and a tall woman was carrying preparations for the post-service coffee in the back door.


As you can see, someone has been caring for the cemetery in a fashion. They have carefully punctured the earth with white pvc pipes and placed silk flowers at each stone. Some of the stones are legible still, but many are not. Still the caretaker respected all and left a token. 


 I think that it must have been a descendent of the Nolens, for, as you can see, Littleberry Nolen's grave has been refreshed with a new marker, while, though your family's marker was lifted from the tall grass, is broken and old.

Your friends, the Beech family, the Cox family, the Waltons, and others, each remain, guarding different corners of this property.  Some installed fencing topped with iron spears, fancying, I suppose that this would guard them from storms, or haunts, but in the end, even I and my camera climbed over and stole the images that I have posted here.

The folks at the Ramada Inn reported that a visitor, presumably a Nolen with pvc pipes stayed at their establishment a few years ago and worked diligently to bring order to the discord that years of neglect  had wrought upon the cemetery. But even that work is suffering the blasts of time.
 
 
Yet, I appreciate what I imagine is an ongoing tribute from the neighboring hotel, a three flag salute at half mast. Perhaps, they are saying with me, that in spite of the passing of time, the McConnicos and company are not yet forgotten.


See slideshow of additional images.

My regards,

Betsy

4 comments:

cadh 8 said...

This is a beautifully written letter. It is amazing how everything we find so important...or tragic, or heartbreaking or joyful...will one day, perhaps, be summarized on a small metal sign...or just a crumbling stone...and then one day just dust. But it is neat to think that someone might be trying to remember...cutting lengths of PVC pipe as tribute to who we were.

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brd said...

I am wondering if the largest manufacturer of PVC Pipes has a commodity especially designed for cemeteries with a sharp point at the bottom for ease of planting, double strength at ground level to protect against string trimmers, and a tapered neck for support of silk flowers?

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