Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Cemetery Adventure


Cemeteries are interesting places to me.  Possibly because they are places that have the possibilities of answers for genealogists.  I’ve had a few interesting adventures…but one of my favorites had to do with Star Gap Cemetery in Johnson Co., TN and a chance meeting with an online friend.

The day started out with my cousin letting me borrow her Ford Explorer to go over to Johnson Co., TN on my own.  Her one prerequisite was that I took the long way around through Boone, NC and not through the mountains and Shouns Crossroads.  Truth be told…I was perfectly comfortable with mountain roads – but she didn’t know that.  My first stop was the library at Mountain City.  I walked in and sat down and made my spot at the table and began to peruse that information available.  After a short time, I struck up a conversation with the woman across from me.  We began talking about our Tennessee family and after a while, there were a few common threads that seemed to show themselves.  This was someone familiar with the internet and computers. 

Most of the people that you converse online through newslists are email addresses, names, and common surnames.  You have a in common a county of research and the newslist that you communicate through.  The Johnson County newslist was run by a lovely woman named Mary Floy Katzman.  I will be always grateful for her work on behalf of the “The Original Johnson County Tennessee Genealogy Page” and the JCTCuzins list.  Mary Floy died several years ago…but there have been others who have kept it up beautifully.  But back in 2001, the newslist was a place where researchers could exchange information and ideas.  One of those researchers was someone I knew only by her email address.  It turned out that Jenny was someone who I had corresponded with quite often.  We easily recognized each other.  At the time she was also visiting Johnson Co., TN – and was actually living in a city only two hours from where I lived in the northwest.

Now the adventure began…since I had someone who was familiar with the landscape – we took off and began exploring.  One of those places was the cemetery at Star Gap also known as Acre Lawn Cemetery. You can take a look at photos and information by clicking the link on the name.  Jenny and I drove towards Laurel Bloomery and turned off at the Star Gap road.  We began traveling up the dirt road through a thick wall of trees on either side.  As we progressed slowly down the road, we could nothing that resembled a cemetery.  Much to my dismay, another vehicle was coming straight towards us.  Driving in reverse is definitely not one of my strong suits…never the less, I had to back up for several yards before we could find a place for the other vehicle to pass.  When they came along side of us – we asked if the cemetery was very far away and were told that it wasn’t much further.  As we continued up the road, the trees opened up and we came across a clearing and we had finally arrived. 

It was a beautiful spot (Check out the pictures of the cemetery at their website.  I can’t find mine or I would post them).  Although we never found the grave of Charles Dollar (my great grandmother’s younger brother) – it was quite a trip.  Thanks to Jenny  and her knowledge of the area, we also went to the Phillipi Cemetery and attempted to find the Hawkins cemetery where my great great grandfather was buried.   (Moses Friddles)  However, I will never forget that trip up an unknown dirt road with my new friend.  I haven’t seen Jenny since that day and she has moved back to Mountain City, TN,  but, I made a great friend that day and we both would love to go on another cemetery adventure someday!