From Family Findings
Vol. X, No. 2, April 1978, pp. 73-74
Copyright, Mid-West Tennessee Genealogical Society, 1978
Appears on this web site by permission

A DAY SPENT AMONG THE TOMBS

By Capt. T.M. Gates

(Taken from a scrapbook owned by the late Charles McMillin which contained a collection of columns by Capt. Gates which appeared in the Daily Sun in 1912. The scrapbook is now owned by the Jackson-Madison County Library.)

            There is a tall Lombardy poplar tree in Riverside Cemetery that reaches a hundred feet or more from its base toward the sky. After the dawn of day, and at twilight, the sexton informs me, that a mocking bird can be seen perched upon the topmost branch of this tree, and he pours out his sweet notes to its mate, that is nesting in a cedar tree below. Should any of your readers visit this sacred spot at sunrise or at twilight, perhaps they will hear the music of this bird floating over the quiet and beautiful city of our dead.

            I spent a day walking among the old tombs in Riverside. For the benefit of your readers, I will mention many things known only to a very few old residents now living in Jackson.

            I found a marble slab nearly hidden by weeds, with this inscription, "To the memory of Mary Jane, daughter of William E. Butler, died Nov. 12th, 1821, age 8 years old." This little girl must have been buried in the first cemetery, which was located just above the stone bridge (ed. near Johnson Street and Airways), and her remains moved to its present resting place.

            I found a slab on which was chiseled "In memory of Mrs. Almedia Ann Talbot, wife of Joseph Talbot. Died October 1835." and nearby was a slab marked, "In memory of Joseph Greer, son of Joseph and Almedia Talbot. Died in 1834, age one year."

            Some years ago I gave account of the murder of a man named Sanders, and the subsequent hanging of a young man named Jamison, for the crime. Mrs. Almedia Ann Talbot, mentioned above was Miss Almedia Ann Sanders. Young Jamison was madly in love with Miss Sanders. Mr. Sanders, for reasons known only to himself, refused young Jamison permission to visit his daughter. By the aid of a slave of Mr. Sanders, he was decoyed in a wood-lot, and when Sanders and the slave were approaching a large tree, Jamison jumped out from behind the tree, and slew him with a stick. For this crime Jamison was hung, together with the slave. Jamison and the negro were the first persons hung in Madison county.

            There is buried in Riverside one who was born in Wythe county, Virginia, in 1776, a few months after the old Liberty Bell in Philadelphia rang out "freedom to the colonies." Major William Campbell, father of Jno. W. Campbell, and grandfather of General A. W. Campbell, is the one buried in Riverside, who died in Jackson, Tennessee, January 11th, 1842.

            Just as you enter the driveway in Riverside cemetery, you will see a slab covering the remains of two little brothers, Eddie and Willie Harkins. Many of the citizens of Jackson will remember the sad death of these two little brothers. The last of December, 1889, or the first day of January, 1890, these two little boys, together with a little son of Mr. James Grogan, were playing in the sank-bank, corner of Lexington and Hays avenues, when suddenly the bank caved in on them, and when found, several hours afterwards, they were just alive, and both died the next day. Also the little son of Mr. Grogan died. It has been twenty years since Mr. and Mrs. Harkins left Jackson, but every year the mother sends to the sexton of Riverside $3.00 to keep in order the graves of her darling little boys. What a lesson this should be to some mothers now living in Jackson, who have children buried in Riverside, whose graves today are covered over with weeds! Walk through the cemetery and you will see many little graves just as I have described.

              For the benefit of any who may wish to see the resting places of many who once lived in Jackson but are now forgotten, I will in a brief way describe some that I found.
SARAH DEAN, oldest daughter of Martin and Margaret (Neil) Cartmell, died March 28, 1838.
WILLIAM STODDERT (lawyer), for whom Stoddert street is named, died in Jackson in 1839.
Mrs. H. K. Brown, wife of James Brown, died in Jackson in 1832.
JAMES LEE (merchant), born in Ireland, died in Jackson in 1835, age 23 years.
ELIZA ANN, wife of B. H. LIGON, died in Jackson, Oct. 21st, 1834. Age 19 years.
WM. PUMBER, son of Rev. C. McKINNEY, died in Jackson in 1853. Rev. C. MoKinney at one time was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
ELIZABETH, wife of R. I. Chester, died in Jackson in 1841.
WILEY POPE HALE, adjutant of the Second Tenn. Regiment during the Mexican War, wounded at the battle of Cerro Gordo, April 18, 1847, and died three miles from the battle field, age 26 years.
JAMES ELBOD (merchant), died in Jackson in 1839, age 48 years.
BERNARD MITCHELL, died in Jackson, May 28th, 1859, age 70 years. Mr. Mitchell reached Jackson in the early 30 s on a keel-boat.

            The brick vault located in the southern part of Riverside, was build 65 years or more ago by two families named Dorris and Shropshire. There are six bodies buried in this brick vault. These families are extinct at this time, but some relative or one or the other family lives in Knoxville, Tenn., and has had the vault covered with shingles in the last twenty-five years. The roof of the vault at this time is decaying, and rain and sunshine enter the vault.