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Historic graveyard restoration in Carter County

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Apr 23 2013 04:03:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

A historic graveyard in Elizabethton was nearly lost, but it's coming back.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -

There could be literally hundreds of old neglected cemeteries scattered throughout our region, old private or family cemeteries that have long been forgotten.

Restoration efforts of an old cemetery in Elizabethton have been going on since 1981 and as we found out, it contains the final resting place for some of its original settlers.

A historic cemetery in Elizabethton has nearly been swallowed up by development over the centuries. In 1981 it had been neglected and somewhat forgotten. "In 1981 this was grown up in huge trees. The fence post that you see back here was sawed out of the locust trees that was cut out of this cemetery," says Dawn Peters with the Green Hill Cemetery Preservation Committee.

That preservation committee was established and work began on the final resting place for some of the first settlers to the town. "These are some of the earliest settlers of Elizabethton, Tennessee. Samuel Tipton out there is a Revolutionary War soldier. He was the founder of the city of Elizabethton. He sold the lots surrounding the courthouse that established the town in here," she said.

Almost forgotten, the graveyard and its markers were almost lost. "The tombstones had been broken. They had been pulled up, the were scattered across the cemetery, some of them were thrown down the bank over there," Peters says.

Putting them back was no easy task. Where were graves and who were they? The preservation group sought outside expensive help. "We had an archeologist in here and did a little work over around the center of the cemetery over there. We eventually like to do more that to locate actually where the graves are," she said.

Meanwhile on this spring day, the group is setting a record straight by placing markers on two graves of Civil War veterans -- a Union soldier and Carter County native John Holly now has a new marker as does George Bays, originally from Russell County, Virginia, who served with a Confederate calvary unit.

It's just another step in a never-ending effort to set things right to fill in the gaps of history.