Unburying a Cemetery

Photo credit to Kenneth Greene, Jr. from FindAGrave in 2012. Mr. Greene passed away in 2016.

When I realized a family cemetery in Dickson County, Tennessee was overgrown and tucked away, I started to worry. What if the cemetery itself becomes buried? Who knows how to access this cemetery? Many questions ran through my mind.

Welch’s Cemetery is “hidden” in a wooded area in Burns, Tennessee. I used several digital maps and GPS coordinates to try to find it, but I ended up in someone’s driveway with a posted “no trespassing” sign. I contacted a contributor on the website FindAGrave, and she said the cemetery was grown up with briars and probably snakes. It’s off the beaten path, up and around someone’s driveway. There’s no road sign to mark the spot. There’s a faint cemetery outline on Google’s satellite image. There are at least 60 known burials here – 60 individuals that I want to be remembered.

I was determined to get this cemetery cleaned up and accessible. After all, my great-great-grandparents, Lena and Leonidas Tidwell are there. Three of their sons are there. Leonidas’s mother, Amanda Tate Luther, is also buried there.

My mom is assisting me with this project. She called the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office last week. We received a call that someone was going out to try to find the cemetery, but no call back. We also tried to find two “neighbors” of the cemetery. Both of their phone numbers listed online were wrong. We were able to find one lady on Facebook, and my mom sent her a message. We received a response today. It turns out the Sheriff’s Office cleaned up the cemetery last weekend!

There’s still a lot of work to be done:

  • I want the cemetery to remain clean and kept up.
  • I would like to visit and photograph every stone there and the current condition.
  • I’d also like for there to be a road sign marking the cemetery.
  • I want to find out who officially “owns” the cemetery.
  • Leonidas’s father was killed near Shelbyville, Tennessee in the Civil War and I’m not sure where his body ended up. Edmond Tidwell deserves a proper memorial. I would like to have his memorial stone in this cemetery, near his only child.
  • I also want to find if there is some record of burials that are not on FindAGrave already.
  • Lastly, I’d like to start a Facebook group for people who are descendants or relatives and/or who are interested in preserving old cemeteries.

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