Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cemetery Tales - D. O. Johnson Cemetery

When I went back to Tennessee back in 2003, I stayed with a Dollar cousin who lived in Stoney Creek, Carter Co., TN.  I thought she lived in Elizabethton...but I soon learned that there are different sections of the area and the area she lived was Stoney Creek.  It was an easy house to find one you got on the right road because there was a big orange T on the mailbox.  Before I met Loretta and her husband, I didn't understand the devotion of the Tennessee Vols fans.

Loretta was kind enough to run me all over the place in her little car.  We took the back road to Johnson Co., TN through Shady which was where she and her husband had grown up.  One day we took a trip to Hampton, TN which is where the Daniel O. Johnson road was.  We drove over to the little town of Hampton and proceeded to wander around a bit.  We hit a few cemeteries that were alongside the road, one of which was the Goodwin Cemetery.  I was very excited to find one of my 2nd great grandfather's cousins buried there.  There was also an absolutely fabulous view over to Watauga Lake.  After exploring that tiny cemetery for a short time, we continued down the road.  We finally came across the D. O. Johnson road.  I had read that there was a cemetery near that road.  So, Loretta and I started driving up the road in hopes of coming across the cemetery.  We reached a branch in the road where a manufactured home sat and a sign that proclaimed private road.  Being an Idahoan, I understand the concept of a private road.  This may be true in other parts of the country...but if you come across a private road, it is best to ask permission to travel along said road...or you could get shot.  Since the landscape was somewhat familiar to me (more like the fact I was in a rural area) Loretta and I decided to ask permission.  There was a young man who was standing on the road near the home.  I got out of the car and asked him if the D. O. Johnson cemetery was up this road and could we possibly go up there.  He looked at me with a surprised look on his face and said "D.O. Johnson was my Great Granddaddy...why do you want to go up there?"  I said that "D. O. Johnson was a cousin of my great great grandfather and I wanted to see if Moses Johnson was buried up there."  After that was said...he told me to wait there and he was going to get his father.  So, I waited by the car while he went in and got his father from the house.

View from the Cemetery
When I first met the young man's father, Buzz, it would have been easy to make an assumption.  He was a bit dirty because it was obvious that he had been out working.  He had probably just got home from work and was relaxing when we came by.  Except for the beard, he didn't look or walk a whole lot differently than my father did after working all day.  I told my story to Buzz and he told me that he recognized some of those names.  I got excited at that point and asked him if he knew anything about Moses Johnson.  Buzz replied that Moses was his grandfather's grandfather and that he wasn't buried up at that cemetery.  Instead he was buried across the road from the church in a small gravel patch.  He said that the land we were on was the original home-place that Moses had owned. After a discussion for a short time, Buzz told me to go ahead and go on up to the cemetery, but wanted to find a time when I could come back and we could talk a bit about the family genealogy.  I told him that I would love to do that...made a date for a few days later.  (That is another story).
D. O. Johnson Cemetery

Loretta and I and I drove up the road and reached a small clearing and found the D. O. Johnson cemetery.  There might have been about thirty graves there or possibly more.  I got out and photographed each grave stone and took some pictures of the surroundings.  This was quite exciting for me because this was a family cemetery with my last name associated with it.  This was only the second time that I had a chance to visit a family cemetery that was directly connected to my family.  It felt somehow significant to me.  As I looked over the view from the cemetery, it made me think that I was standing in the same place that generations of my family had stood.  For over 150 years, this land had been owned by the Johnson family.

Even though I didn't have any direct ancestors buried in that cemetery, everyone in there was related to me either by marriage or as a cousin.  I was able to identify each and every one of them...and I must say, it was an interesting research "project."
View of the Johnson property near Shook Branch, Hampton, Carter Co., TN.