An Inventory of Antebellum Tombstone Inscriptions
Carroll County, Tennessee
Compiled by Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2002


            It is a basic premise that the present writer shares with many other people that life is a great gift of our Creator, that the lives of ordinary individuals as well as the more celebrated ones may have perpetual significance for the living, particularly for their relatives; hence the preservation of records dealing with the masses, including tombstone data, is a worthwhile endeavor.

            A little over twenty years ago an excellent survey was privately published of the cemeteries of white folk in Carroll County, Tennessee; years later a survey was published of the cemeteries of black folk in this county. Both serve as useful and reliable genealogical sources.

            Because so many of the antebellum tombstones in this county are rapidly disintegrating and some are being subjected to neglect and destruction the present writer- compiler recently undertook the task of reading the complete inscriptions on most of these local tombstones. He has included all those he found and as conscientiously as he has gone about his work, he may have overlooked some tombstone inscriptions.

            Locating these relevant cemeteries has been possible through the use of topographic maps, a map used by the late Julian Devaut to locate a few of the many cemeteries with which he was familiar, through referrals and other aids thoughtfully furnished by Jere Robinson Cox, curator-director, Browning Library, McKenzie, Tennessee .This present survey covers only those cemeteries within the borders of Carroll County.

            It was only with the patient kindness of numerous individuals that the writer was able to reach some of the cemeteries after locating them by map designation. It can be one thing to locate a cemetery on a map and quite another to locate and visit it physically. Paul Toombs, McKenzie, was particularly persistent in locating cemeteries and providing transportation to them. Cynthia Billingsley Kemp shared important genealogical data and insights with the writer for which he is thoroughly grateful.

            Photographs are part of this inventory, taken of some of the more artful tombstones in the county.

            County road maps are available in most of the city halls in the county but as some individuals would not have ready access to such maps, general highway segments are also furnished in this publication.

            The present writer would like to state that it is quite evident from the results of this survey-inventory that most of the early residents of Carroll County who died there lie in unmarked graves. In the present era it is just accepted as a "given" that tombstones will be placed at the graves of most people who die; it was not that way in the nineteenth century. Present-day genealogists need to be grateful to those individuals who went to the time, expense and effort to acquire tombstones for their deceased relatives in the long-ago times.

Jonathan K. T. Smith
Jackson, Tennessee

Spring 2002


Return to Contents