Mt. Ararat Cemetery

Over the weekend, I have become intrigued by the history of Mt. Ararat cemetery here in Nashville. The cemetery was the first African-American cemetery in the city.

I started to become interested in it because over the weekend I’ve been looking up information about Nelson G. Merry – a very prominent former slave who led a very prominent church here in Nashville. One of my little side projects is posting information from The Nashville Globe, a black newspaper that used to be published here in Nashville. From one of my posts, a descendant of Merry’s contacted me as I had posted the birthday notice of Merry’s wife. As I was looking up information on him and learning that he was buried in this cemetery, I decided yesterday to pay the cemetery a visit today. This is the old entrance to the cemetery – now this one is closed off and you have to go through a side gate to get to the historic side.

There is also a historical marker at the site.

Note to the state of TN – it would be great if the state had an online resource for historical markers like North Carolina does!

So, around noon today, I drove over, found the cemetery very easily and spend about an hour walking the grounds. I found Merry’s tombstone, and it is beautiful! His obelisk is the largest tombstone on that side of the cemetery and is very detailed.
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As I walked around (well, as Kaleya and I walked around), I really began to feel connected even more to the history of the place. Some of the people buried here, I’ve come across when reading the Nashville Globe – for example, Dr. Robert F. Boyd is also buried here.

Yesterday, I found this online article that was recently published in the Nashville Scene that includes some information about the cemetery. The article also has a picture of Merry’s tombstone. There is also a picture of a tombstone that is shaped like a wheel, but I didn’t see that one today – I would have loved to have seen it.

It was heartbreaking though to also see how many headstones were broken, overturned, etc. I am glad that it is now being cared for though – but just imagine all the people interned here whose names will not be known. I am glad that I went. I plan to add the pictures I took to Find A Grave.com so that others can hopefully find them too. Of all the people buried here, there are only 21 people listed on FindAGrave. There is a long list that is online as compiled by a cemetery survey in this county. I may also do something more extensive than this, but I’ve hardly got time for my current projects!

Update: Here is the link to all the pictures that I took. Until I can get them more organized…link to Mt. Ararat pics.

The Tennessee State Archives

I have just returned from the Tennessee State Archives here in Nashville and had some great finds! I first went to the archives last weekend as I was able to steal away a few hours to go. My primary reason for going there was to do some research for my friend on her family tree as her family is from East Tennessee. I have been pleased to find death certificates and some family tree information for her and today, I even started looking for information relevant to me and Kalonji’s tree.

One thing I did find that is pertinent to Kalonji, is a list of all the cemetery transcriptions for the cemetery in Talladega where he has family buried. However, there are of course, family members missing from this list as some of his family’s stones were overgrown with thick trees, and then some don’t have headstones at all. In fact, I meant to post about this last month, but our last trip to Talladega, Kalonji started clearing away the area around their stones. The picture below is what it looks like right now, but before he started, you would not have known those stone were there the branches and leaves were so thick.


Also today, I came across a black newspaper that used to be published here in Nashville. I’ve been thinking of a project I could do to help with the genealogy cause for African-Americans in Davidson County — I’m thinking I might do some indexing of this paper.

And, in other genealogy news, I haven’t been doing all that much with my own family. I haven’t written away for more records lately, I’m waiting for the holidays to go by. The records I want are mostly birth/death certificates from places that don’t offer uncertified copies, so they will be a bit costly by the time they all add up.

Military Gravesites

Yesterday and today, Calverton National Cemetery emailed me pictures of some of my relative’s gravesites. Several of the men in my family served in the military and at least four that I know of so far are buried in military cemeteries. I attended the funeral of my maternal grandfather Herman so I remember his. Two of Herman’s brothers are also buried in the same cemetery as he. Then, my maternal grandmother has a brother who is also buried in the same cemetery as well. In addition, I have a distant cousin who died in 1959 who is in Long Island National Cemetery. I think their headstone pictures are beautiful. I like knowing exactly where they are and knowing that I will be able to pass that on to the younger generations in the family.

Also, I was able to find a book that has a listing of cemeteries in Washington County, NC where my maternal grandmother is from. There is a library that is sending me the photocopied pages of the book. I am so excited. The librarian informed me that there are three McNair cemeteries in Washington County with a total of around 100 people. One of the cemeteries is named the Rufus McNair cemetery – Hello! Rufus McNair is my 3rd Great Grandfather – this has to be his cemetery!