Tombstone Inscriptions, Et Cetera from the Black Cemeteries of Chester County, Tennessee
By Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2000


            During the late summer of the year 2000 I criss-crossed CHESTER COUNTY, TENNESSEE, with general highway and topographical maps in search of cemeteries in which black folk are buried, talking with black and white people who could direct me to the same. In compiling such a record the purpose was not to segregate any racial groups from the others but rather to provide a reliable and pertinent cemetery listing for researchers with black heritage in this particular county.

            I visited each cemetery listed and copied every tombstone and funeral home marker personally, making an effort to copy each "inscription" although many of the latter were missing their information panels or were so "smudged" by the elements that they could not be accurately read.

            The reader will see that I have also copied all the data, in most instances, on tombstones, not just the vital stats. While some epitaphs are commonplace others convey true sentiment and merit preservation. I have tried to use the names of the cemeteries that the black folk have used not just by farm location or by names attached to burial grounds by map-makers.

            There are undoubtedly many burial places on old farm sites in the county, where during pre-Civil War times black folk in bondage were buried but these have largely disappeared.

            Complementing the inscriptions themselves I have tried to furnish some additional information in this publication that should enhance the tombstone data.

            It is essential to have clear directions to cemeteries from well-known points. Local people may know these sites but out-of-county individuals are not likely to do so. The precise mileages I have used should be regarded as very close approximations not absolute figures.

              This publication, just as the other six similar cemetery books for counties in west Tennessee, is not published for sale but copies are being placed in several key libraries with permanent genealogical collections.

Jonathan K. T. Smith
September 2000


Return to Contents