Category Archives: Cemeteries

TOMBSTONE TUESDAY: Family means you’re never alone

COCKRELL_HughMurry_1904_2Whenever I’m stressed, I like to walk in cemeteries to help calm myself and today was a beautiful day for it.

Today, I found myself walking through Salem Associate Reformed Presbyterian Cemetery located in Atoka, Tennessee. I decided to walk to the furthest corner to see who was there, but on the way I stumbled upon a little headstone, lying on the ground and all alone. The stone will certainly be lost to the effects of nature within a few years, if not returned to a standing position.

COCKRELL_HughMurry_1904The stone I discovered marks the final resting place of little Hugh Murry Cockrell who’s life was just beginning when he died on March 28, 1904. It saddened me to see him all alone, with no parents or other relatives buried next to him and it made me want to know more about Hugh and his family. Where were his parents and why weren’t they buried next to him? Did they move away from the area after he died?

Hugh Murry Cockrell was the first born of Bryant Thomas Cockrell and Margaret E. Morrison and was born on Oct. 16, 1898 in Tipton County, Tenn. His father moved to Tipton County with his family when he was just a boy, and it is where he met his mother.

Bryant Thomas Cockrell was born Aug. 1, 1873 in Kentucky, the son of Thomas E.S. Cockrell and Sallie Tipton. His father was born in Kentucky about 1838 and his mother, in Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1848.

The 1880 federal census finds the Cockrell family living in Brighton, Tipton County, TN. Thomas, 42 was a general mechanic and Sallie, 28 was a house wife, busily taking care of Bryant, 7 and his older sister Mary C. who was 10 at the time.

Hugh’s mother, Margaret E. Morrison was the daughter of Hugh and Ellen L. Morrison. She was born in Tipton County, Tennessee in December 1872. Hugh Morrison was the son of Irish immigrants, Chestnut and Margaret Morrison, and was born in South Carolina in May 1848 and died Oct. 4, 1914. Her mother, Ellen, was born in Mississippi on Oct 29, 1844 and died on Feb. 12, 1875, when Margaret or Maggie, as she was better known as, was just two years old. She died four days after giving birth to her sister who later died in September of that year.


The 1880 federal census for Monroe, Mississippi, Arkansas lists Hugh Morrison, 32 and his young daughter Maggie, 8, living with the Guyne family as borders where her father worked as a farmer.

The Morrison family eventually found their way back to Tipton County where Maggie met and married B.T. Cockrell on Dec. 29, 1897. The young couple was blessed with the birth of their son Hugh Murry, a short ten months later.

The young family, along with little Hugh, is located on the 1900 federal census, living with Maggie’s father at Carson Lake in Troy Township, Mississippi, Arkansas. Bryant, 27, is a farm laborer, working along side with his father-in-law.

A daughter soon joins the family and she is named Flossie Ellen. She shares her name with her father’s youngest sister and her maternal grandmother, and she was born on March 5, 1901 in Tipton County, Tenn. But, like her mother suffered before her, she too loses her mama before the age of two. Maggie dies the following year at the age of 29 on Aug. 7, 1902. Bryant is just 29 when he becomes a widower with a young daughter and son, just a couple of years older than his father-in-law was when he became a widower.

Approximately 18 months later, tragedy strikes the family again when young Hugh Murry passes away at the age of 5 on March 28, 1904. The pain must have been unbearable for the young father to bear for it seems he vanishes for a time being. The 1910 federal census shows an 8-year-old Flossie living with her paternal grandmother Sallie and her new husband, Robert R. Mitchell, in Justice Precinct 3, Cherokee, Texas without her father.

But by the age of 18, Flossie has been reunited with her father and is now living with him and her grandmother, who is once again widowed, in Tipton County, Tenn. In 1920, Bryant is 47 and doesn’t appear to have ever remarried. He is employed as an automobile machinist, which seems he has followed in his father’s footsteps. His mother, Sallie, is 71 and keeps house. Sometime, after 1920, Flossie marries Leonard Thomas Abraham and has a son, whom they name Leonard Thomas, Jr.

Hugh’s father, Bryant Thomas Cockrell died on Nov. 15, 1953 in Shelby County, Tenn., and was buried in Salem alongside his mother. His sister Flossie Ellen Cockrell Abraham died on Dec. 24, 1963 and is also buried in Salem, along with her husband and son. His grandfather whom he was named after, Hugh Morrison, died on Oct. 4, 1914 and is also resting in Salem, as well as his grandmother Ellen and his great-grandparents, Chestnut and Margaret Morrison, who died in 1902 and 1904, respectively.

When I stumbled upon little Hugh’s headstone I was sad to think he was spending eternity all alone. There are no family stones next to him, but after learning whom his family is, I find he is not alone and has never been. For in Salem ARP Cemetery, he has his parents, sister, and his maternal and paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, not to mention uncles, aunties and cousins all at rest within the same hollowed grounds. Although his time on earth was cut too short and he was unable to leave his mark, I have to believe his family has done that for him, for with family, alone is something little Huge will never be.


Tombstone Tuesday: Weep not for her

Several years ago, six to be honest, I found myself in the community of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, attending the funeral of my mother-in-law. After the service, my family and I headed back to my brother-in-law’s home so my husband could visit with his brother for a while. On the way to his home I noticed a very old looking cemetery, and as one who never passes up the chance to explore God’s acre, I went for a walk to locate the ancient burying ground, while the men were talking,

Most people, having just attended a funeral, would have had enough of being in the land of the dead, but I find cemeteries calm me. I am more relaxed walking up and down the rows of lost loved ones. There are no sounds, save those of nature. I enjoy reading the names, the epitaphs and trying to figure the age of those who have passed. I wonder what their lives held for them and why death found them when it did. Did they have dreams and ambitions? Did they achieve their goals? Did they have a good life, or was it one of pain and suffering?

It pains me to see graves of obvious neglect, ones long forgotten. Why weren’t they remembered by their families? Was there no one left to mourn or did the knowledge of their life pass on as their body did with the passing of generations. I, especially, dislike seeing the tiny headstones of children, believing them to be beautiful souls whose light must have been too bright to endure the darkness of our world.

Miss Lucy Lathrop was born about Nov. 1815 and died March 24, 1836 in Jaffrey, NH

Miss Lucy Lathrop was born about Nov. 1815 and died March 24, 1836 in Jaffrey, NH

The cemetery I found that day is called the Village Cemetery, and according to its entry on Find-A-Grave, is sometimes referred to as the Baptist Cemetery and was established about 1829 on the land once owned by Oliver Bacon in east Jaffery. On this day, as I walked up and down the rows of tombstones that had been standing for more than a century, I stumbled onto the final resting place of Miss Lucy Lathrop. Remembered with a beautifully ornate stone, Miss Lucy was just 20 years and five months old when she died on March 24, 1836.

The stone’s engraving is evident of how much an impact her sudden departure had on others. Inscribed on the stone for all to see was, “This monument of respect was purchase by the female friends of the deceased, and erected, sacred to her memory.” The poem at the bottom reads, “Weep not for her! – She was far too fair. Too pure to dwell on this guilt-tainted earth; the sinless glory, and the golden air of Zion, seamed [sic] to claim her from her birth. A spirit wander’d from its native zone, which, soon discovering, took her for its own. Weep not for her!”

The marker left to sum up her short 20 years was not purchased by her family, but by her friends. 

This leads to so many unanswered questions. Where was her family? Why didn’t they erect a monument in her memory? Did she have family in New Hampshire? Was she an immigrant looking for a better life, leaving her family in the old country? What about her personality, her friendship, her goodness, resonated so deeply within her friends, that they joined together, pooling their resources to remember their friend in this manner?


New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947 for Lucy Lathrop.

A quick search on the Internet pulls up very little for Miss Lucy Lathrop, except for a New Hampshire Death and Disinterment Record established 70 years after her death. Besides the surprising date of when the death record was written, it also records her father as John Farwell, which causes one to ask, was Lathrop then, a married name?

But then why, would her friends purchase a stone and inscribe it with the words Miss Lucy Lathrop? And what did they know in 1906 when her death and disinterment record was established, that wasn’t known in 1836 when she was buried?

We may never discover the truth about who Miss Lucy Lathrop was, but the marker erected by her friends in her honor will ensure her memory lives on.

Weep not for her!


Wednesday’s Child – Papa’s Baby



Today, I visited the remnants of an old plantation home located in the Town of Stanton in Haywood County, Tennessee. The site used to be the old home place of Joseph and Lucy Stanton, founders of the town. It is not the original home, as that was burnt down and a smaller home built in its place. Time has been rather kind to the home in the regard that it is still standing but it is evident that the home had not been lived in for many years.

Natural has begun to encroach upon the foundation of the home. Critters, various plants and trees have broken through the barrier long ago designated between nature and man. It is evident that the home was once a modest, yet grandeur home of the times, complete with a front porch that must have seen its share of visitors and family members, relaxing and…

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Papa’s Baby


Today, I visited the remnants of an old plantation home located in the Town of Stanton in Haywood County, Tennessee. The site used to be the old home place of Joseph and Lucy Stanton, founders of the town. It is not the original home, as that was burnt down and a smaller home built in its place. Time has been rather kind to the home in the regard that it is still standing but it is evident that the home had not been lived in for many years.

Natural has begun to encroach upon the foundation of the home. Critters, various plants and trees have broken through the barrier long ago designated between nature and man. It is evident that the home was once a modest, yet grandeur home of the times, complete with a front porch that must have seen its share of visitors and family members, relaxing and playing on its wide and lengthy deck. IMG_2494

A short walk from the home, across a field which has seen more than a 170 years of planting and harvesting, lays a family cemetery. Hidden in the middle of a grove of trees and covered by decades of overgrowth and neglect, the cemetery is invisible during the summer months. Only two headstones remain above ground, although I believe there are more which have fallen to the effects of time and to the earth which has once again erased the intrusion upon its land.

The broken headstone of Mary Henry Ware

The broken headstone of Mary Henry Ware

Both stones mark the final resting place of beloved children. The larger stone, which is approximately 48 x 24 inches, is broken into two pieces and pays tribute to Mary Henry, the infant daughter of Henry Briton Ware and his wife Mary Caroline. Little Mary Henry died at the age of 17 months from malaria. Her commanding stone reads

Interred in this spot
where reposes the body of
Mary Henry
infant daughter of Henry Briton
Ware and Mary Caroline his wife

she died after one weeks illness
of congestive fever 22nd day of
Aug. the year of our lord 1830
Died 1 year and 5 months

Jesus said suffer little children
and forbid them not to come
unto me for of such is the kingdom of Heaven

The headstone of Pannie Ware

The headstone of Pannie Ware

The second headstone is much smaller, approximately 24 x 18 inches and in immaculate condition, probably due to the fact that it was leaning slightly over, which prevented the weather from hitting it directly. The white marble stone is beautifully simple, but shows the love her parents had for their precious toddler.

The first words my eyes were drawn to were Papas Baby.

Papa’s baby was a three-year-old named Pannie Ware who was born on Saturday, January 17, 1880, the youngest child of Joseph Henry and Mary Speed Boyd Ware.  She died on Nov. 8, 1883 of unknown causes.

I have been haunted by this stone and its words all day…


What misfortune happened to little Pannie that took her away from her Papa?

I had to find out more about Pannie Ware, so I began my search on for records of her life. But there are none.

Not a birth record.

Not a death record.

Not even a census record.

Nothing but a headstone.

I came across her family in the 1880 census for Stanton, Haywood County. The census was taken on June 28, 1880 and shows Pannie’s father, Joseph Henry, mother, Mary Boyd and siblings Annie Boyd – 12, William S. – 10, John B. – 8, Grace Arlington – 7, five-year-old James G. “Jimmy” and two-year-old Joseph Henry, Jr. –  7. Also included on the census were 16-year old W.P. Burns, 18-year-old Kate Bryne, a school teacher, field hand 19-year old Lee Nelson and 25-year old widow E. Nelson who served as the family’s cook.

But no Pannie. She would have been six-months old, so why wasn’t she recorded on the census?

This oversight is actually quite grievous. Because of the era of her birth and her age at death, little Pannie Ware has fallen through the crack of life to the obscurity of death and to that abyss that many genealogists dread – the all too common, unaccounted and many times record-less period of time for children that occurs between federal censuses.

No one remembers or even knew she existed. 

Research on reveals many family genealogists working on the various branches of her family tree. They account for her parents and her siblings, but not one family genealogy tree accounted for little Pannie Ware. Not even a listing of “unknown child.”

And that breaks my heart.

Her parents have long gone, as well as her siblings. And unless there is a family Bible handed down through the generations which holds the record of her birth, ensuing generations have probably never even heard of her.

It’s a miracle that her final resting area was found on a back road in a town on the edge of existence, in the middle of a field surrounded by a grove of overgrown trees and debris.

I believe her marker, quite possibly the only record of her short life and the love her parents felt for her, was kept pristine for the past 133 years so that one day, she would be found and once again remembered.

Papa’s Baby… I remember and I promise I’ll never forget.

Disclaimer:  2/5/2013 – The current owners have now posted “No Trespassing” signs on the property and have stated they do not want anyone on the property, to enter the home or to visit the cemetery.

The residents of Quarter Rd. Cemetery…part 1

Last week, a couple of friends found an old and forgotten cemetery in the woods in Stanton, Haywood County, Tennessee. Long forgotten by the town and family members, their markers dirty and in disrepair, five individuals sleep the among the trees and critters aching to be discovered and remembered once more. Who were these people and why were they buried in the woods. Was it once the former location of a church that has lost it members and now only the cemetery marks its former existence? Or is it simply the hands of time that have enveloped the land and works to obliterate their memories? This was a mystery that is screaming to be solved! I’ll write my findings for each story… each mystery that I can uncover. We begin with the tale of Herman Sales.

Herman Sales May 12, 1895-Aug. 1, 1920

Young Herman Sales was born on May 12, 1895 in Shelby County, Tennessee to John and Letha Sales. He is their firstborn.

During the next five years, many changes occur in young Herman’s life. His mother has three more children and his father abandons the family. On the evening of June 27, 1900, the twelfth US Federal census was taken and found 5-year-old Herman, his mother Letha, brothers Raney and Billy and sister Hollie living with John’s parents, Albert and Mandy Sales and their three minor children still living at home. It’s an extremely crowed home with 10 people sharing the small space and everyone of age helps out on the family farm. Herman’s mother Letha is shown as being 38 years old and divorced. None of the family has gone to school and no one can read or write.

The 1910 US Federal Census was taken on Apr. 28, 1910 finds Herman’s parents back together once again and more children have been added to the household. Fourteen-year-old Herman is living with his parents, John and Letha and seven siblings in a rented home in Shelby County, TN on Central College and Kerrville Rd. His parents have been married for more than 16 years and in addition to the eight children living, his mother has lost two of her babies. Herman’s mother age is still shown as 38. She is 10 years older than her husband and I imagine it’s vanity that leads her to tell the enumerator the small fib.  Herman’s father is a farmer in his own right and needs the assistance of his oldest sons, so Herman and his 12-year-old brother Raney work the farm as laborers with their father. Neither one can read or write and have not attended school at all during the year. In fact, none of the Sales children have attended school in 1920 and out of his entire family, only his father John is shown as knowing how to read or write.

Herman Sales WWI draft Registration Card

In June of 1917, Herman registers for the WWI draft. He gave his year as birth as 1895 but did not give a month or day, perhaps because he didn’t know them. He told the registrar he worked for Earl Griffin in Fayette County and he was married. He was medium build, medium height with brown eyes and black hair. When it came time to sign his draft card, he could only make his mark because he still did not know how to read or write.

Just seven shorts months before his death, the 1920 US Federal Census was taken in Haywood County, TN and tells us he was black, married and the father of two babies. Herman’s wife Anna, 18-month old son Clifton and newborn daughter Lulu Bell lived with him in a rented shack on Hillville Road in Stanton where he farmed the land to make a living for his young family. His next door neighbors, Lee Powell and Edwin Moore, one black, one white, were also farmers and they worked the land together. His brother, Raney lived close by with his wife Rosie and their year-old daughter. A nephew, 7-year-old Roland Hamer also lived with them. Roland’s headstone was also found in the cemetery. His story will be next.

Although we don’t know the cause of Herman’s death, we do know that his headstone tells us he thought about the needs of his family in case of his death. The seal at the top of his stone is from the Masonic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in 1883 by two former slaves, John Edward Bush and Chester W. Keatts, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The organization originally provided illness, death, and burial insurance, including a headstone for a small monthly membership fee during an era of segregation when few basic services were available to black people. By being a member of the MTA and paying his monthly dues, Herman ensured his family had the money for his burial and a stone in which to mark his grave. During  a difficult time, his pre-planning ensured the burden of his funeral cost did not fall to his family and enabled us to find his final resting place 90 years later to tell his story.

The Mosaic Templars of America

I am constantly learning something new about history when I look at the past. This past week a couple of new friends and budding genealogists and cemetery researchers found an old forgotten cemetery in the woods in Stanton, Haywood County, Tennessee.

We’re referring to the cemetery as Quarter Rd. Cemetery, well, because that’s where it’s located and we don’t know yet what it’s original name is. They’ve located the graves of five individuals in this long-forgotten final resting place. One child and four adults. One of the stones is the oldest stone I’ve come across in this area of West Tennessee…

John Bishop died Jan 1807 age 70

John Bishop died in January 1807 at the age of  70, putting the year of  his birth about 1737! Also located is Mahala Bishop, who was 54 years old when she died in 1921, Roland Hamer who passed at the tender age of 13 in 1925, Henry Clay Watkins who died on April 1, 1914 at the age of 62 and young Herman Sales who was just 25 years old when he died on August 1, 1920. More to come on them….

The most unusual aspect that was discovered in this cemetery was the markings on a couple of the headstones. It was a symbol that we had never run across before and it had the initials TMA 3vs engraved in the stone. But after a few hours of research I had discovered the answer.

The initials were really MTA which stood for the Mosaic Templars of America which was a famous black fraternal organization founded by two former slaves, John Edward Bush and Chester W. Keatts, in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1883. The organization originally provided illness, death, and burial insurance during an era of segregation when few basic services were available to black people. By 1900 Mosaic Templars’ industries grew to include an insurance company, a building and loan association, a publishing company, a business college, a nursing school, and a hospital. The  goal of the organization was to provide its members with various services but also to meet the needs of the black population in general by encouraging self-help measures.

By 1905 it had a number of lodges across the state with thousands of members. When the new headquarters were built in 1913, Booker T. Washington delivered the dedication speech. In the 1920s they claimed chapters in twenty-six states and six foreign countries, making it one of the largest black organizations in the world. However, in the 1930s the MTA began to feel the effects of the Great Depression and eventually ceased operations.

But today there is an organization struggling to keep that rich history alive.  The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is dedicated to the preservation of Arkansas’ African American history. Within the cultural center is a museum with hundreds of artifacts, a research facility which collects various types of artifacts related to Arkansas’s rich African American history from 1870 to the present. You can visit their website at

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