Tag: Cemeteries

  1. North Shore Decoration Days Continue Thanks to Park Staff

    North Shore Decoration Days Continue Thanks to Park Staff Bone Valley. Bradshaw. Higdon. Proctor. Hall. These are just a few of the names that grace more than 20 cemeteries in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are only accessible by boat. Today, pilgrims from this region and from all over the country are transported to these special burial sites — some extremely remote — Read more...
  2. Trailside Talk: The Quest to Find Veterans Buried in the Smokies  

    Trailside Talk: The Quest to Find Veterans Buried in the Smokies    Joe Emert and his friends are on a mission that has no end.  Emert is one of the leaders of an effort to identify the final resting places of all military veterans buried in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Using military records, newspaper research, family histories, websites focusing on family ancestry, and a lot of footwork, Emert Read more...
  3. National Park Week: Military Monday

    National Park Week: Military Monday By Mike Hembree April 17-25 is National Park Week in the Smokies—and in every other national park. It’s time to celebrate spring, to break out hiking shoes and binoculars, to return to park roads and trails that many have missed for much of the past year. Activities are scheduled throughout the park system with the focus on how Read more...
  4. Premature and Belated Burials

    Charles Maynard

    Unfortunately, death was no stranger to the families who once scratched a living from the rocky ground of the Great Smoky Mountains. A trip to any park cemetery will quickly reveal that death struck most families often, and at any age.

    In those days gone by, most deaths were handled without the aid of physicians, embalming, or a professional undertaker. The rule of thumb was to get the deceased into the ground within 24 hours. The other rule was to make sure the person was really dead before you buried them.

    This could be more difficult than it sounds. In rural Appalachian during the 19th century, there was widespread fear of being buried alive. The Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee features a glass-topped coffin. It was presumably designed to facilitate viewing the deceased so mourners could have a last glimpse of the loved one, but it also allowed them to double check and make sure the deceased was truly dead. Elsewhere there are reports of coffins equipped with strings tied to bells above ground or special latches for opening the coffin from the inside.

    One of the most gruesome tales of premature burial was reported in The New York Times in early 1885. The incident occurred in the mountains of North Carolina in Buncombe County.

    “... A young man by the name of Jenkins, who had been sick with fever for several weeks, was thought to have died. He became speechless, his flesh was cold and clammy, and he could not be aroused, and there appeared to be no action of the pulse and heart. He was thought to be dead and was prepared for burial, and was noticed at the time that there was no stiffness in any of the limbs. He was buried after his supposed death, and when put in the coffin it was remarked that he was as limber as a live man. There was much talk in the neighborhood about the case and the opinion was frequently expressed that Jenkins had been buried alive. Nothing was done about the matter until the 10th inst., when the coffin was taken up for the purpose of removal and internment in the family burying ground in Henderson County. The coffin being wood, it was suggested that it be opened in order to see if the body was in such condition that it could be hauled 20 miles without being put in a metallic casket. The coffin was opened, and to the great astonishment and horror of his relatives the body was lying face downward, and the hair had been pulled from the head in great quantities, and there was scratches of the finger nails on the inside of the lid and sides of the coffin.”


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