Cemeteries

This must be the week of the Merrys!

This must really be the week of the Merrys because I had another great find today!  I received a notice in my email today that the Nashville Public Library posted an online index to a listing of more than 19,000 names of people buried in the Old Nashville Cemetery. The listings are drawn from a series of internment books held by the Metro Nashville Archives, 1846-1949. So, I decide to take a look and guess what I find – more Merrys.

It is difficult to be precisely sure of all the exact relationships, but I think it lists another four children of Nelson & his wife Mary, in addition to his mother.  Also, there are some other Merrys that I think may be related as they are buried in Nelson’s plot. I am confused though on precise locations, because, I have been to Nelson’s grave and it is not in the Old Cemetery, but it is listed in this database. I may have to call the Metro Archives or go see the books in person to understand more about locations.  Mt. Ararat, where Nelson is buried, does have an affiliation with the City Cemetery, but I think there is an issue with naming.  But to summarize who is listed in this database…

  • Clancy Cousins – died at age 18, 11 Mar 1850. States that she is free colored female, and sister of Nelson Merry, who is also noted as free. Her cause of death was Fever. It is correct that Nelson was free.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 14 Jan 1851. States that he is the son on “N. Merry” and died of Croope. Now, this could be either Nelson’s son, or a son of his brother, Napoleon.
  • Merry, infant girl – died 6 Oct 1854. States that she is the “daughter of Nelson Merry” who is a free colored man.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 12 Jan 1857. States that he is the son of “Ann Merry” who is a free colored woman. This may or may not be Nelson’s son. His wife Mary’s middle name was Ann, so it could be that her middle name was used in this instance, or the infant’s mother could be a different person all together.
  • Merry, Mrs. Sidney – died 26 Jun 1873. The only note on this one is box paid on Nelson Merry’s lot. This is Nelson’s mother!  From census records, I know that Sidney lived with Nelson in 1870, but she was no longer there in 1880. In the 1870 census, she is listed as being 80 years old, but in the 1850 census she is also listed as being 80. So, given the 1850 census date, I had already estimated her year of birth to be about 1770. This cemetery listing matches that and if she died in 1873, that would make her just around 100 years old! I can’t wait to go search for an obituary.

Now, these dates may be actually burial dates and not dates of death – I need to check that in the source books. But, in addition to these whom I think the relationship is clear, there are others:

  • Two infant children of a Jas. Hoss (or Sloss) that are on the lot paid by “N. Merry”
  • A 100 year old woman named Angeline Thomas that is on the lot paid by “N. Merry.” Her date is 24 Jan 1872.
  • A 29 year old man named William King who is listed with Sidney Merry and is also in “box paid by Nelson G. Merry”
  • An infant boy listed as the son of George Merry, who is listed as free colored man.
  • An infant boy listed as the son of a Francis Merry
  • Merry, Mary – died in 1855. The listing just says “Nelson Merry’s lot.”  She was 10 years old. I’m not sure who she is because in 1850, Nelson & Mary are only listed with one child, John Wesley Merry.

All of this gives me reason to really go back and research other Merrys in I can find them. How intriguing!  Now, the fun is not over. I decided to visit the website of the city cemetery and was happy to see that they are very involved in genealogical causes. They have posted a list of people buried in the cemetery whose descendants have contacted the cemetery, and they have a volunteer looking up obituaries of people buried there and they are providing links to those obits. Very progressive! If only more cemeteries would do this!

That’s what I get for going unprepared

I write this blog post from the Talladega College Library. This was not my intention. We came to Talladega this weekend to visit Kalonji’s grandmother and I thought, great! I can go to the public library when we get to town and do some genealogy research on the McClellans! However, upon getting to the library, I saw that they were closed for the holiday weekend. Should have known.

So, I came down the road to Talladega College, a historically black college here in town, and ventured into their library. Luckily, they are open and allow public visitors. Unfortunately, all of their Talladega specific history information is in the Archives, which is closed on the weekends.

So, I’m in the computer lab and since I have a couple of hours to kill, I will do some random genealogy tasks. I wish I had thought to double check, but oh well, at least I can get a few things accomplished over the internet. Change of plans — the cemetery where some of the white McClellans are buried is only about a mile away. I am going to go walk the cemetery. Perhaps I can get some pictures of tombstones that may not already be online and potentially help someone out.

Update @ 10pm — This afternoon turned out well after all! I made my way to the cemetery. Oak Hill Cemetery, in Talladega, Alabama is a HUGE cemetery! I asked a couple of people where I may find out who had a burial plot location and of course being a Saturday, City Hall was not open. I even tried a local funeral home, but could find no one present. So, I decided to park near the section of the cemetery that looked like the oldest part and walk around.

After walking around for about 30 minutes, I found most of the graves I was looking for – the Willam Blount McClellan family section and the Plowman family section. Go back to a few of my recent posts and you’ll see who William Blount McClellan is and why I’m interested in him. Since my digital camera is currently out of commission (a little three year old I know inserted something into the slot where the memory card goes and thus I cannot put a memory card in it) so I bought a few throwaway cameras and had the pictures developed on CD. They came out for the most part okay, but there were some where I was not close enough to the tombstone to read the transcription in the photo.

Here is a picture of the McClellan family plot. Buried here are William Blount McClellan, his wife Martha T. Roby McClellan, sons Francis McClellan and W.W. McClellan, and a few others – maybe 2 infant graves, and then 2 other tombstones that I can’t remember and can’t make out in my pictures. I’m definitely going back with my digital camera next time we are here.

This is the family plot of Thomas Scales Plowman. His wife was a daughter of William Blount McClellan, Magnolia Vinton McClellan. Thomas was a congressman.

And, there were so many interesting headstones, like this one in the McMillan plot.

And, I took some other random photos, so I’ll be uploading images to FindaGrave pretty soon.

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!