National Register of Historic Places
Prepared by Nancy Morgan and Carroll Van West
November 21, 2002
Funding for the NRHP registration was provided by the
MTSU Center for Historic Preservation
Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
[HTML editor's note: The following is the primary text excerpted from the Riverside Cemetery Registration Form submitted to the National Register of Historic Places. Endnote style has been altered for HTML presentation. References to photographs and a list of photographs have been retained although the photograph set is not available. Special thanks to Carroll Van West at the MTSC Center for Historic Preservation for permission to reproduce this information and for providing a file in Word.]
Statement of Significance
Photographs (list only)
Only a few blocks south of the Madison County Courthouse in Jackson Tennessee (population 59,643), Riverside Cemetery lies on the southeast quadrant of the Riverside Drive and Sycamore Street intersection just south of the Illinois Central and Gulf Railroad. The 10.5-acre site is separated from Riverside Drive (west side) by a five-foot-high red brick wall, built in 1939, which contains a vehicular entrance on the northwest corner of the cemetery. On each side of the brick entry posts, an inset gray granite plaque proclaims, "Here Sleep the Founders of Jackson." A concrete sphere tops each post and a Tennessee Historical Commission marker has been placed on one of the entry posts. (Photograph 44). Beyond the entry, the cemetery presents a pastoral impression with numerous mature shade trees and ornamental shrubs throughout the site and well-maintained, grass-covered rectangular burial sections divided by regularly spaced, asphalt-paved streets. Cedar, pine, oak, hickory, holly, maple, magnolia, and hackberry trees enhance the landscape. The site slopes downward on all but the east side, giving a gently rolling hillside view from most angles. The brick wall along the primary roadway and the wrought iron fence on the north end of the cemetery are prominent features of the contributing site.
The cemetery parcel is trapezoidal shape with the angled side on the west along Riverside Drive. Numbered streets are laid out in straight lines perpendicular to Riverside Drive. Roads designated "East Drive" and "West Drive" edge the perimeter, joining First Street and Eighth Streets on the north and south, respectively. Lots designated with lower numbers occupy the narrow end of the site, near First Street, while the higher numbered plots are at the opposite end near Eighth Street. A circa 1870 wrought iron fence, moved in 1902 from the courthouse lawn to the cemetery edges the north side. At the northeast corner, it joins a chain link fence that protects the east side, erected in 1945 (moved slightly to the east in 1998). The chain link fence extends around the southeast corner and down about one-fourth of the length along the south boundary. There it connects to a 1953 concrete block wall that lines the remainder of the south side. At the southwest corner of the cemetery, the concrete block wall joins the brick wall along the west border. Within the cemetery, near the southwest corner, a circa 1940 frame utility shed rests on an open, brick pier foundation. It has a metal roof with exposed rafters and small covered entry door. Most of the building is weatherboard; however, painted plywood covers over half of one side. (NC due to alteration). (Photograph 15).
The City of Jackson established Riverside Cemetery in 1824 to replace the original municipal graveyard founded two to three years earlier. Remains of most persons buried at the previous cemetery were reinterred at Riverside when it opened; however, a few were not moved until 1871-72 when the original site was converted to other uses. The oldest, legible, marked burial is for Mary Jane Butler (died 1824). Riverside Cemetery holds approximately 4,000 graves, 3,548 of which were identified in Jonathan K. T. Smith's 1990s transcription project. Approximately 3,000 markers remain. Based on the Smith transcription, eighty-six percent (3,053) of the graves with legible markers (or documentary evidence) are within the period of significance. Forty percent (1,234) of those were prior to 1900. These figures exclude an estimated 200 unmarked burials consisting of approximately 100 unknown Confederate soldiers who died during the war and nearly as many slaves buried from the cemetery's inception to 1865. Riverside continues to accept burials for deceased whose family plots contain available space, although less than fifty burials were recorded within the past decade.
Markers abound except on the southernmost section (between Seventh and Eighth Streets) where many slaves and some Confederate soldiers are buried. The earliest burials are in the southeast section. Some of the marked graves in the southwest portion are slave burials. Most family plots are outlined in stone, brick, or concrete, some with ornamented entrances. (Photograph 17). Tombstones range from simple tablet styles and ledger stones to elaborately carved draped urn obelisks to life-size sculptured angels. Motifs include religious symbols and a variety of secular decorative elements. Three examples of markers in Riverside mark the cemetery as an early nineteenth century burial ground. The first is a brick barrel vault, approximately six feet long and three feet wide with its arch peaking between two and three feet in height. No inscription is visible. (Photograph 20). An unusual grave marker in a wrapped body shape (shroud) of concrete poured over brick rests near the center of the cemetery. No identification is visible and none was found in cemetery transcriptions. (Photograph 35). Elijah Bigelow's (died 1830) marker represents the typical early settlement marker style and motif. His stone is a bedstead style with raised central element, incised lettering, and a narrow incised border. Only two flowers, one on each half-circle shoulder, and incised scrollwork ornament the marker. (Photograph 33).
Other markers reflect a later stage in the cemetery's funerary art with more expensive and artistic tombstones. An outstanding marker, a sculptured marble life-sized angel, guards the grave of Marie Lou Cartmell Hoffman (died 1894). Clad in a Roman style sleeveless blouson and ankle-length, flowing skirt, she holds a staff in her left hand and carries a basket of flowers on that arm. Her right arm extends down with an open palm facing the grave. Her narrow, folded wings extend nearly to her ankles. The statue stands on a square block with the name in relief and the rest of the inscription incised. The block rests on a ledger stone. The entrance to the Cartmell-Hoffman section has three concrete steps anchored by eighteen-inch stone posts at each end of the top and bottom steps. Between the posts, a curved concrete segment shows the family names in raised lettering. (Photographs 36 and 18). A smaller, child-sized angel graces the grave of Elizabeth Muse (died 1921). The barefoot little girl has short hair and is looking down at the grave. She wears a loose, knee length, draped gown and her left hand clutches what appears to be a bracelet. Her right arm is missing. She stands on a fifteen-inch-high square, double-stepped, granite block. (Photograph 34).
The Allison-Dudley mausoleum has an arched façade with its 1902 construction date incorporated on either side of the cartouche centered along the curved top. A stone architrave with "R. A. Allison" in shallow relief separates the roof section from the front side and rests on the capitals. A keystone anchors the center of the arched doorway. Beneath the arch, large rusticated stones extend from the doorway to the columns supporting the roof facade. The engaged, fluted composite columns sit on large protruding, angled stones at the base. The sides are horizontally laid, single slab stones with raised joints. According to cemetery transcription records, the oldest death date entombed within is for Anne Dixon Allison (1882). (Photograph 32).
Several "white" bronze (zinc mixed with bronze that retains its gray color) markers line the Cartmell family plot. Robert H. Cartmell (died 1915) and Mary Jane Cartmell (died 1865) have matching markers, beautiful obelisks that sit atop a double-stepped base of rusticated stone. The lower third of the shaft contains the surname in raised lettering. Above that, a row of half circles rims the shaft. An arched text plate sits within a rusticated rectangle. The next one-third section gracefully tapers upward in two distinct segments, the lower one containing a lovely anthemion design. The top third of the marker consists of a narrow urn capped by an eternal flame. (Photographs 22-27).
Typical of many older city cemeteries, as early settlers' families became more distant in kinship and locale, contributions for maintenance dwindled to the point that maintenance fell entirely to the municipality. In the case of Riverside, its Cemetery Improvement Association, organized 1918, closed in 1976, officially transferring its assets and maintenance duties to the City of Jackson. The Sons of Confederate Veterans now assist the City with care of the property. Riverside Cemetery's plat, setting, and unusually high percentage of intact grave markers continue to convey the cemetery's image as a nineteenth century burial ground. The cemetery retains its historic integrity.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Riverside Cemetery is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A for its association with historic settlement patterns and social history in Jackson. It is also eligible under Criteria C for its funerary art. As local historian Jonathan K. T. Smith noted, "Riverside Cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee is vitally historic; the generations of persons buried there represent the dynamic and ever-unfolding historic development of the community." Because Riverside, which opened in 1824, is the oldest extant city cemetery in Jackson, it reflects the area's first stage of settlement from circa 1821 through Reconstruction and is a good example of an urban burial ground as opposed to a rural graveyard like Old Salem Cemetery located a few miles east of Jackson. Riverside Cemetery's burials evidence the movement of settlers into former Native American lands in Tennessee's western territory as soon as it opened for white occupation. Riverside includes burials of many of Jackson's "founding fathers" as well as some of its mid-nineteenth century business, education, religious, and social leaders. These were the people who guided the town to prominence as a transportation hub and substantial cotton market. This pattern of prominent people buried in Riverside Cemetery continued into the twentieth century although it lessened once Hollywood Cemetery opened in the late nineteenth century. Typical of many Tennessee municipal cemeteries founded before the Civil War, Riverside was open to all races and religions, and thus it is a microcosm of the city's population and history. Riverside burials evidence the social and economic disparity between white and black, as well as within white, society in antebellum years. In the late 1880s, soon after the segregated cemeteries (Mt. Olivet for blacks and Hollywood for whites) opened, white business and civic leaders began burying their families in the more prestigious Hollywood burial ground, while black church, education, and business leaders bought plots in the new private, African-American cemetery, Mt. Olivet (NR 302).
Riverside's funerary art spans time periods and styles from frontier barrel vaults to turn of the century mausoleums, from unadorned bedstead tablets to soaring, elaborately ornamented Victorian era obelisks, reflecting changes in the town's economy as well as in artistic tastes and symbolism. Riverside Cemetery is important to Madison County history because its grave markers form an "index" to the county's founders and other persons significant to the region's development. Riverside replaced the original city graveyard that had been established circa 1822 before the State Legislature changed the town's name from Alexandria to Jackson in August of that year. The earlier municipal burial ground was abandoned by 1824 when Riverside opened. Soon thereafter, most bodies buried in the old graveyard were moved to Riverside and those remaining were
Riverside includes one acre given by Samuel Shannon, and approximately four acres given by Samuel Lancaster in 1850. Lancaster's deed to the city specifies that part of the land he donated would be for the continued use of his family and servants. Before donating his acreage, he had sold at least six family plots which were included in the deed transfer to the city. Another half acre was added in 1866 from the James Caruthers estate. From 1872 through March 1878, the city purchased additional acreage to the north from Thomas L. Robinson. The city sold lots and made burials in that section before the court case involving Robinson's sale to the city was resolved. After the latter addition, the main entrance was moved from the middle of the east side to its present site on the northwest corner of the cemetery
Riverside represents the early nineteenth century municipal cemetery on the southern "frontier" with its burials crossing class, race, and religious lines, and its physical layout exhibiting a geometric plan that transitioned from small, informally arranged cemeteries (such as Old Salem Cemetery outside Jackson) to large, private, landscaped Victorian era style memorial gardens (such as Hollywood Cemetery in Jackson). Although as early as 1858 an improvement committee recommended that "forest trees be removed" and ornamental plantings be added, the earliest documented landscaping was in 1879 when trees were planted and the grounds improved in an effort to conform to new trends in cemetery design. In conjunction with the improvements, the city held a contest for the cemetery to be called something other than "city cemetery." 'Riverside,' a name the Jackson Tribune and Sun called "at once the most appropriate and beautiful" of the entries, was chosen. Winner Benjamin Davidson suggested the name because the Forked Deer River flows nearby. While the city retained land ownership, in 1918 the Riverside Cemetery Improvement Association formed "to preserve, maintain, beautify and improve" its grounds, an attempt to keep pace with new ideas incorporated into newer burial grounds, such as the nearby Hollywood Cemetery established in 1886 that featured artistic street and section layouts and planned, park-like landscaping. The Association disbanded in 1976, returning maintenance responsibilities to the city.
Settlement Patterns and Social History
Established in 1821 and named Jackson in 1822, the town is centrally located in the Western Grand Division of the state. From its earliest settlement, the town's rich soil and proximity to the Forked Deer River led to an economy based on agriculture and commerce. Eventually served by five railroads, by 1858, the Mississippi & Tennessee Central, Mobile & Ohio, and Illinois Central rail lines firmly established the Jackson's importance as a hub for transportation of cotton and lumber. Riverside Cemetery burials include people who developed the area's railroad and cotton sectors as well as politicians, civic, and business leaders who fostered economic and cultural growth.
Tombstones in Riverside reflect the Scots-Irish settlement pattern in Tennessee, with people born in Scotland, Ireland, England, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia moving to West Tennessee as soon as the Indian lands officially opened for white settlement in 1819. Some, like Robert I. Chester (died 1892) lived in East and Middle Tennessee before moving to Madison County. His tombstone indicates that he was born in Pennsylvania, and documentary evidence traces his places of residence to Jonesborough and Carthage, then Jackson. (Photographs 28, 29). Rev. Alexander A. Campbell (died 1846) and Presbyterian minister Johnston E. Bright (died 1878) were born in Virginia, according to their tombstones, as were at least twelve of approximately fifty-five others whose markers indicate birthplace. Rev. John Brooks (died 1880) was born in Ireland as was Robert Stark (died 1854) whose marker indicates he came to the U.S. in 1817.
People buried in Riverside Cemetery represent the wealth and workforce that made Jackson a town of importance on the western frontier in the first half of the nineteenth century. Riverside Cemetery contains bodies of many of the town's earliest settlers including several of President Andrew Jackson's relatives by marriage: Rachel Jackson's nieces, Martha Thompson Hays Butler (died 1857) and her husband, Dr. William E. Butler (died 1882), and Elizabeth Hays Chester (died 1841) and her husband, Robert I. Chester (died 1892). (Photographs 28-31). Undoubtedly, their presence influenced the town being named for the popular War of 1812 General. An entry in an 1827 visitor's diary that the "western district" was "principally settled by old and respected families who had claims under government or felt a spirit for emigration — which is most universally felt by all in this State" referred to the Donelson family.
William Edward Butler (died 1882), known as the "Father of Jackson," moved his family to the fledgling town in 1821. Although he served with future President Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, his brother's involvement in signing the 1818 Chickasaw Treaty, more than Dr. Butler's connection to Andrew Jackson, gave him the opportunity to be one of the first speculators to accumulate land in the Western District. In 1821, he made his first contributions that fostered the town's growth: planting cotton and importing a cotton gin. From those beginnings, the town's economy became based on cotton and the transport, brokerage, and processing related to the fiber. Butler even donated thirty acres as the site for the town of Jackson. In addition, he donated land for a female academy and served on the county court. Butler also organized the West Tennessee political faction loyal to Andrew Jackson and opposed to David Crockett. Although he lost to Crockett in a bid for the legislature, the wealthy, aristocratic Butler later engineered fellow Madison Countian Adam Huntsman's successful campaign as the Jacksonian congressional candidate representing the "common" citizen. Butler, his wife, son, and daughter-in law are buried in Lot 238. Butler's daughter, Mary Jane (died 1824), has the oldest, legible marked grave in Riverside Cemetery.
Butler's brother-in-law, Robert I. Chester, "quite a polished genteel man," moved to Madison County from Middle Tennessee where he had been postmaster at Carthage in 1822. His wife's relationship (niece by marriage) to Andrew Jackson likely furthered Chester's long public service career as postmaster, surveyor, land registrar of the western lands, U.S. marshal of the western district, state legislator, and Tennessee elector. In the 1850s, Chester gave a barbecue for over a hundred people with food tables stretching sixty yards long and dancing as entertainment. He also hosted wedding parties for friends and neighbors in his home. Chester was Vice-President of Jackson's Presbyterian High School Board of Trustees in 1872 and a member of the Tennessee Historical Society. Although he lived in Jackson, Chester held thousands of acres in several West Tennessee counties. In 1879 Chester County, formed in part from Madison County, was named in his honor. Colonel and Mrs. Chester and Dr. and Mrs. Butler are among the Riverside Cemetery burials that represent the typical antebellum West Tennessee planter in their upper-class manners and lifestyle, agricultural endeavors, and slaveholding.
In addition to Andrew Jackson's relatives and political supporters, Riverside Cemetery burials include some of their arch rivals, members of the opposition Whig party. One of the earliest was Milton Brown (died 1883). A lawyer who moved to Jackson in 1832, he served as Chancery Court Judge before being elected in 1839 as a representative to the U.S. Congress. He served three terms, later becoming president of the Mississippi Central & Tennessee Railroad Company, then the Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company. He is credited with bringing the first railroad to Jackson and as a Congressman, he introduced a successful bill to annex Texas. He was also a founder of Southwestern University (which became Union University), and of Lambuth College. William T. Haskell (died 1859) succeeded Brown as Tennessee's representative to the U.S. Congress 1847-49. He had also been a member of the state's General Assembly in 1841-43. Like a few other early Tennessee politicians, he served in the Seminole War in 1836 and the Mexican War. Known across the state as a spellbinding orator, he represents the pattern of former soldier turned politician and Middle Tennessean who moved to the West Tennessee "frontier" during the early 1800s. Haskell and Brown led the rise of Whig controlled politics from their West Tennessee base, stifling Jacksonian Democrats, one of the remarkable changes in state political history. Butler, Brown, and Haskell laid the historical foundation for West Tennessee's prominence in state politics.
With the close association of some founding families with Andrew Jackson and the area's significant slaveholding planter class population, it is not surprising that Madison County had a number of War of 1812 and Confederate veterans, many of whom are buried at Riverside. In addition, the cemetery holds soldiers from the Revolutionary, Mexican, and Spanish American wars as well as World Wars I and II. Perhaps Riverside's most significant military features are two sections where unknown Confederates were buried.
Jackson (and, thus Riverside) has several ties to the Civil War. In part because of its rail access, Jackson was a strategic town for both the Union and the Confederacy (CSA) during the Civil War. Union Brigadier General Jeremiah Sullivan formally occupied the town in June 1862 and used it as a supply center. Burial of nearly 100 unknown Confederate soldiers who died during the war in various engagements near Jackson bears testimony to the strategic importance of its railroads to both armies. The exact number of unknown CSA. burials is undetermined. The local United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) placed a monument on Lot 224 and another on Lots 427-429 to commemorate the unknown fallen men. Although a 1937 cemetery survey indicated thirty-five stones inscribed "C.S.A." in Lot 224, the UDC monument gives forty as the number of burials there. The larger section, Lots 427 A through 429 B holds seventy-five burials according to its UDC monument; however, the 1937 survey reported 100 to 106 graves. One tombstone in the larger section denotes that at least two members of Confederate cavalry buried there fell at the Battle of Britton Lane in Madison County. The reason for two separate Confederate unknown plots is a matter of speculation. Some local historians believe one section was initially used to bury soldiers who died in Jackson's military hospital and the other was for those who died in area battles.
Many identified Confederate veterans are buried in family plots at Riverside, including Joe B. Freeman (died 1862) who was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh and died while being returned to Jackson. Some markers reflect regimental and rank information such as Duke Love Kimbrough (died 1896), "Ord Sgt," Company C, 7th Kentucky Cavalry, L. E. Talbot (died 1919), Company D, 3rd Tennessee Cavalry, Samuel H. Gill (died 1871), Company L, 7th Tennessee Cavalry, and Robert A. Treadwell (died 1911), Company A, Tennessee Cavalry. J. G. Cisco (died 1922) spied for the Confederacy throughout the War. At least one Union veteran, Hartwell P. Farrar (died 1921) with Company D, 48th Illinois Infantry, is buried at Riverside.
Civilians interred at Riverside served the Confederacy in non-military capacities. Associate Justice of the state Supreme Court, Archibald W. O. Totten (died 1867), was Governor Isham Harris's appointee to join Tennessee with other southern states in the Confederacy. President Andrew Jackson's nephew-in-law, Samuel Jackson Hays (died 1866), attended West Point with Davis and maintained a lifelong friendship with Jefferson Davis. The Confederacy's president even offered Hays a position as a Confederate General. Hays and other men of means, such as Robert H. Cartmell, outfitted companies for duty.
Many of the early settlers brought with them, or soon purchased, African-American slaves to raise cotton, the basis of the town's prosperity for approximately a century. Riverside's burials and documentary evidence attest to slave presence and migration. Willis Pope's (died 1896) marker indicates that he was born in 1825 in Davidson County, Tennessee. John A. Greer (died 1903) and his sister Emily Greer Person (died 1915) and their spouses, buried at Riverside, inherited land and slaves from their father, Alexander Greer, who migrated to Madison County in 1822. Considering that the practice of the time was to bury slaves in the same municipal cemetery as their white masters, it is likely that at least some of the Greer family slaves are buried at Riverside. Examples of such burials exist. Anne Huntsman Scurlock (died 1882), daughter of pioneer Adam Huntsman, erected a marker in Riverside for the grave of her servant, Silas (died 1857) with the inscription, "He is not forgotten by his attached mistress." Similarly, the marker for "Aunt Becca" (died 1866) is inscribed, "Beloved Servant of J. W. & Jane Campbell." Both Silas and Aunt Becca are buried on the southwest section in the "colored" section. Some slaveowners, such as Samuel Lancaster, buried their slaves in the same lot with their own families. When he deeded land to Riverside in 1850, he reserved one section for his servants and his own family.
In 1830, barely ten years after the town of Jackson was formed, Madison County held 4,167 slaves, more than any other Tennessee county and approximately one-sixth of the total number in all of West Tennessee. The combined wealth of the early planters and the sweat of their slaves made Madison County a significant factor in the antebellum "King Cotton" southern economy. By 1860 the county raised six percent of all cotton grown in the five-state region of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi and slaves comprised nearly half of Madison County's total population. In its racially inclusive burials, Riverside Cemetery represents Jackson's early social history.
Comparing Riverside with Hollywood and Mt. Olivet cemeteries highlights one way societal attitudes toward African Americans changed between Riverside's inception in the early nineteenth century and opening of the latter two burial grounds during the Jim Crow era. Although church records and city council minutes indicate that several hundred black people are buried in the cemetery, only a "few" have tombstones. Approximately fifty markers are extant; Smith notes at least seven more that existed at the time of a 1937 transcription project which are no longer on site.
Through Riverside graveyard's history, one part of the Civil War's legacy can be read — the increasing segregation of the races, leading to separation in cemetery burials as well as in the rest of society. Considering that on the eve of Civil War, Madison County's white to black population was nearly equal at 11,400 versus 10,095, it is not surprising that after the War, African Americans needed, as well as wanted, their own burial ground. Newly freed slaves throughout the South quickly began forming their own separate institutions — schools, churches, and cemeteries. In May 1880, when the city council voted to buy three acres for an African-American cemetery known as Eastside, stating that "no permit shall be issued for the interment of colored persons in said cemetery Riverside cemetery in the city of Jackson except to such as of them as own lots therein," they reflected the same fears that led to the State's 1881 "Jim Crow" law requiring segregated public facilities. The move to segregate Riverside Cemetery prompted African Americans to acquire their own private burial ground in 1885, known as Mt. Olivet, ensuring that they would have a final resting place, free from city council expulsion. One African-American family, the Lanes, evidently had plots in Riverside before the city council decision. Bishop Isaac Lane (died 1937) and his family played major roles in local, regional, state, and national history of the African-American community.
Unlike many late nineteenth century black families in the South, the Lane family lived the promise of Reconstruction. Born a slave, Isaac Lane felt a call to preach prior to the Civil War. Denied the opportunity to preach sermons due to antebellum Methodist Episcopal Church, South restrictions against African Americans becoming ministers, Lane accepted the "exhorter" designation. Soon after the war ended, he became a deacon, and in 1870 he and a small group of fellow blacks organized the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) church denomination. In 1882, the CME denomination with Bishop Lane leading the way bought land for the first "colored" high school in Jackson. Within fourteen years, the school became Lane College, accredited in 1936 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, and a viable college to the present. Although the College, Bishop Lane's namesake, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (7/2/87), the extant buildings were built after he passed his seventy-first year, beyond the time of his most active involvement with the college. (Photograph 41).
Bishop Lane's son and daughter-in-law, Dr. James Franklin Lane (died 1944) and Mary Edna Johnson Lane (died 1927?) are also buried at Riverside. The Lane College President's House (NR 11/8/91) recognizes Dr. Franklin Lane's contributions related to the college. The cemetery markers mention other aspects of their lives, apart from Lane College. (Photographs 40, 42, 43). Dr. James F. Lane's wife, Mary Edna was also an educator, teaching in high schools in Memphis and Knoxville as well as at Lane College. Her grave marker summarizes her legacy: "Dedicated Christian layman, teacher, civic and social worker. Loyal member of the Liberty CME Church for over a quarter of a century and leader in establishing the foreign missionary work of the C.M.E. denomination. An early pioneer in better race relations through service in the American Missionary Association. Dedicated teacher in the high schools of Memphis, Knoxville and Lane College of Jackson, Tennessee. Past president of the city and state Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. Organized the Athenian Art Club of Jackson, Tennessee that provides scholarships for worthy students. She lives on! A symbol of Christian living and as an inspiration to future generations." Few such women have any extant building, structure, or site other than their tombstones to indicate their existence and significance.
Mrs. Mary Edna Lane's impact on Tennessee's African Americans and on women's history may well have equaled her husband's influence in his arena. She started the Athenian Art Club in Jackson that granted scholarships to students as part of its mission. Black women's missionary societies typically furnished and maintained housing for the denomination's pastors and supplied funds for various other church-related projects such as church buildings, sending missionaries to foreign countries, and helping the needy in the community. Providing social welfare to the African-American community was particularly critical during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before white-controlled governments extended their programs to blacks. Across the nation, black women, especially the upper class, formed women's clubs with purposes similar to white women's organizations — to achieve progressive social aims and to uplift members and their communities intellectually, morally, and spiritually. Black organizations such as the American Missionary Association and the Colored Women's Clubs added goals beyond those of white groups: achieving civil and political rights, promoting interracial understanding, and preventing lynching. As a leader in the C.M.E.'s foreign mission society and in various clubs, Mary Edna Lane extended Jackson's ethnic ties to the state and nation, leaving a rich heritage of civic, educational, and religious service for her successors. The Lanes epitomize the legacy of Reconstruction. Because their activities beyond the realm of Lane College are not adequately commemorated elsewhere, their importance lends additional significance to Riverside Cemetery. Riverside Cemetery burials Bishop Isaac Lane (died 1937) and Min Wilson (died 1877), who was hanged for killing the white sheriff, exemplify the range of former slaves' experiences in Jackson and the post-war racial strife as well as triumph. Much of the Lane's significance also reflects later development and social patterns.
In addition to pioneers, politicians, and former slaves, Riverside burials include educators, philanthropists, journalists, and authors. Riverside's deceased provide evidence of at least two other educational institutions significant in Jackson's history — Memphis Conference Female Institute, and the Presbyterian Female College, the latter no longer in existence. During the same time period that the Lanes were fostering Lane College's growth, several whites now buried at Riverside were involved in other education ventures. Amos W. Jones (died 1892) served as president of the Methodist's Memphis Conference Female Institute from 1853 to 1878. Organized in 1840, the school evolved into Lambuth University in 1924, an institution that continues to the present. Within a few years of the Civil War's end, Presbyterians organized a Female College. Ordained minister Johnston E. Bright (died 1878) directed it while his wife, Sarah (died 1878) taught music and art. His daughter, Camille Bright Bell (died 1937) also taught there and later in the public school system, gaining a reputation as a lively, interesting educator. Major James B. Conger (died 1871) chose to dispense knowledge outside the conventional educational system, making a name for himself over the years as "a valued contributor to the Scientific American."
Philanthropist Monroe Dunaway Anderson (died 1939) used gains from business enterprises to aid his hometown. Born in Jackson and the son of the First National Bank president, he, his brother, and brother-in-law formed a cotton brokerage firm based in Oklahoma City and later in Houston. His charitable foundation gave a planetarium to Lambuth University, endowed libraries, college buildings, and built auditoriums in Jackson as well as a cancer center in Houston. Although not as wealthy as Anderson, Uriah R. Heavner (died 1913) who moved to Jackson in 1875 was a widely known contractor and a "first-class architect." Jay G. Cisco (died 1922) started the Forked Deer Blade newspaper, writing editorials for years. Robert H. Cartmell (died 1915) documented considerable local history for posterity in a series of diaries kept over much of his long life, information that continues to be useful to historians. Noted poet John L. H. Tomlin (died 1905) whose work appeared in such publications as the Southern Literary Messenger, Gentlemen's, and Grahams Magazine also maintained an extensive correspondence with nationally known poet, Edgar Allen Poe.
Riverside also exemplifies American social class and religious stratification during its period of significance. In its early years, Riverside included a potters' field (Lots 149-154) for burial of indigents. Catholics and Jews were buried at Riverside for years until B'nai Israel opened for Jewish citizens circa 1900 and Calvary Cemetery was established in 1951 for Catholics. Riverside's records note the removal of several Catholics for re-interment at Calvary.
Riverside Cemetery's tombstones span the frontier settlement period in the early 1820s through the end of its period of significance in 1952 and illustrate the major trends in grave marker design and symbolism during that time. Because its tombstones mark graves of a variety of people in Jackson, such as the town's founders, military veterans, and African-American slaves, Riverside includes elaborately carved markers, mausoleums, government issued soldiers' markers, and simple, unadorned markers as well as a few fieldstones. Its range of marker styles and extent of embellishment indicate the expanse of socio-economic classes buried within its grounds. Although Riverside holds a significant number of high-style Victorian era and Classical Revival style markers, it contrasts with the higher percentage of such monuments in nearby Hollywood Cemetery (organized in 1886), indicating Riverside's earlier period of use. Riverside's simple, linear layout versus the aesthetically pleasing design at Hollywood also signifies that Riverside represents an earlier phase in the town's evolution. Riverside's abundant, artistically carved stones, the brick and wrought iron fencing, street and plot layout, landscaping, and more meticulous maintenance distinguish it as a predominantly white, affluent cemetery when compared with Mt. Olivet, the town's large, private African-American cemetery (formed in 1885). Although Riverside was established before the prime Victorian era influence on American memorial art, many of its residents died during the last three decades of the nineteenth century and their intricate markers lend a Victorian era appearance to much of the cemetery. Except for the oldest section on the south side, views in every direction at Riverside Cemetery include a variety of grave marker types from large obelisks, some topped with urns, to tablets to flower bed planters to ledger stones. None of the stones highlighted below had visible carver's signatures.
As ideas in cemetery design evolved, so did choices of symbolism in funerary art. Although some markers merely provide indication of a burial rather than identifying or eulogizing the deceased, many Riverside burials reflect early nineteenth-century society's changing attitudes toward death and artistic expression in funerary art, and they illustrate how tombstone carvings demonstrated a family's wealth and social status as the local economy rebounded after the Civil War. For example, the inscription on Elijah Bigelow's (died 1830) bedstead style marker, "Sacred to the Memory of," reflects the transition from the eighteenth century Puritan skull and crossbones motifs to the early nineteenth century style of memorializing the deceased with aesthetically pleasing grave markers. It marks the interim stage between society's concept of death as a frightful experience expressed in stark realistic designs and the more elaborate ornamentation displayed by the end of the nineteenth century. (Photograph 33). Victorian era values spanned much of the nineteenth century, particularly in funerary art. Using planter box style grave markers to show appreciation of nature by decorating graves with ornamental vegetation epitomizes the pastoral aspect of Victorian attitudes. Several planter grave markers, many of marble, dot Riverside; however, most inscriptions are too worn to read. Another facet of Victorian ideals, cherishing children, is reflected in Riverside's funerary art such as the tombstone for Chris Lawrence Baker (died 1909) in which a female child figure holds a bouquet of flowers draped across her right arm.
By the late nineteenth century, Riverside monuments also reflected the trend (seen on a grander scale in nearby Hollywood Cemetery) toward large, ornate funerary art and Classical Revival architectural style influences. Markers for some of the town's founding fathers, while displaying elements from antiquity and traditional symbolic motifs, were less elaborate in adornment and more modest in scale than other Classical Revival influenced markers at Riverside. For example, early settler, Robert I. Chester (died 1892), has a large combination style marker culminating in a variation of a vaulted obelisk topped with an urn. A row of protruding dentil detailing separates the pedestal from its flat architrave and the overhanging "roof." The upper section, the narrowest portion of the shaft and just below the urn, is a cross-vaulted obelisk with a trefoil design (representing the Holy Trinity) on all four faces linked by a narrow raised band. (Photograph 28). Dr. William Edward Butler (died 1882) also has a comparatively modest marker considering that he is the "Father of Jackson." Reaching only about five feet in height, the double-stepped granite base supports a Doric column resting on a square block with chamfered shoulders. The lower base block is rusticated, surrounded by a striated border. A simple urn graces the top of the column. (Photograph 30). Urns often top obelisks, a form borrowed from ancient Egyptian culture. Urns symbolized the death of an adult and also a container for tears of the deceased's family. While, to ancient Egyptians, obelisks symbolized Ra's (the sun god) life-giving rays, Christians used the obelisk to represent rebirth or reaching toward heaven.
One of Riverside's more distinctive examples of Classical Revival funerary art, in part due to its size, is the double obelisk for Milton Brown (died 1883) and his wife, Sarah F. (died 1876). Reaching approximately fifteen feet in height, two Doric columns sit atop a massive rectangular block, triple-stepped pedestal base approximately three feet across the front and fifteen inches wide. A scroll unwinds around each column at the midway point. Each face of the base has an elaborately embellished cartouche with incised lettering. It exhibits less overt religious symbolism in favor of more ostentatious display of wealth and social status befitting a U.S. congressman and railroad president. (Photograph 38). Also typical of the Classical Revival period, mausoleum design borrowed elements from ancient civilizations. The Allison-Dudley mausoleum incorporates engaged, fluted columns, arched façade and entrance, and cartouches. (Photograph 32). An example of the Classical Revival influence on funereal sculpture in Riverside Cemetery is the life-sized sculptured angel marking Marie Lou Cartmell Hoffman's (died 1894) grave. Her Roman style dress typifies the era's fascination with antiquity. (Photograph 36). A separate family plot with members of the Cartmell family has "white" bronze obelisks that incorporate classical elements such as the anthemion design, an urn, and an eternal "flame." The flame indicates life and Christ as the light of the world. Popular during the 1870s-1890s, the zinc/bronze mixture retains its gray color and lettering while stone markers often become discolored and the inscriptions disintegrate. Markers for Robert H. Cartmell and Mary Jane Cartmell (died 1915 and 1865, respectively) were made by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, one of a half dozen or so companies that manufactured such markers. (Photographs 22-27).
Religious motifs depicting compensation for a good life rather than Puritan style warnings of doom dominate Riverside's religious funerary art. The monument for Sarah Ford Person (died 1915) exemplifies Christian piety with its larger than life sized female figure bearing a cross which she appears to be resting on the ground, symbolizing death's relief. Amos W. Jones's (died 1892) marker includes religious symbolism with a cross extending through the middle of a crown, symbolizing the Christian belief that the deceased is trading an earthly burden for a heavenly reward. Crowns also denote triumph over death. Jones's marker also exemplifies personalization of funerary art. As president of Memphis Conference Female Institute, the books and bookshelves carved near the center of his obelisk appropriately commemorate Jones as an educator. (Photograph 21). Riverside contains at least two examples of Gothic styled gateway or bi-columnar monuments. With corner columns, four arched entrances under vaulted roof, and open interior, this style was considered a "portal to eternity."
Even though Riverside Cemetery represents the early settlement era in design and marker styles, every vista has a few large, elaborate tombstones. On the other hand, Riverside contrasts with the more aesthetically pleasing landscape plan and predominance of high-style markers in nearby Hollywood Cemetery whose funerary art epitomizes Jackson's Gilded Age period of industrialization and wealth. The markers for the city's founding fathers are modest in comparison to the next generation of leaders who are, for the most part, buried at Hollywood. For example, the "founding father" of Jackson, Dr. William Butler (died 1882), has a five-foot-high Doric column obelisk topped by an urn. Like Butler, the majority of early settlers buried at Riverside displayed less wealth and artistic expression in their grave markers than did the typical Hollywood Cemetery burial. On the other hand, when compared with Jackson's African-American cemetery, Mt. Olivet, organized in 1885, only one year before Hollywood Cemetery, Riverside markers are more numerous and elaborate. Mt. Olivet's plot layout evolved rather than being planned, maintenance has been less consistent, and markers are smaller and simpler.
Riverside's markers and setting retain their historic integrity. The cemetery exemplifies the range of funerary art styles and symbolism — from vernacular, to simple bedstead, to eclectic, Victorian era and Classical Revival — popular during its period of significance.
Alexander, Harbert. "Madison County." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 566. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society and Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
"American Missionary Association." North by South Page. (22 September 2002).
Baker, Steve. "Jackson." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 467-68. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society and Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Your Guide to Cemetery Research. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 2002.
Chester, Robert I. "Deed Book." Original Manuscript, M72, Rutherford County Archives, Murfreesboro, TN.
City of Jackson, Tennessee Homepage. "Monroe Dunaway Anderson."
David, Arthur L. "Isaac Lane." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 523-24. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society and Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
________. "Lane College." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 523. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society and Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore Page. Updated 19 November 2001.
Fowler, Russell. "Milton Brown." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 95-96. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society and Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
Freedmen's Bureau Online. "Freedmen's Bureau Indenture of Apprenticeship Bonds for Madison County, Tennessee 1865-1866." (21 May 2002).
Goodspeed Biographical Appendix, Madison County, Tennessee.
Jackson Chamber of Commerce Page. "Monroe Dunaway (M.D.) Anderson.
Jackson-Madison County Library Page. "Bishop Isaac Lane."
Key, F. Carmack, comp. Post Offices of Smith County With Officers. Carthage, TN [?]: privately published, 1970 [?].
Lovett, Bobby L. and Linda T. Wynn, eds. Profiles of African-Americans in Tennessee. Nashville: Annual Local Conference on Afro-American Culture and History, 1996.
Mielnik, Tara Mitchell. "Christian Methodist Episcopal Church." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 156. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
________, and Carroll Van West. "Chester County." In The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture, ed. Carroll Van West, 148. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Society, 1998.
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Old Cemeteries Society. Victoria Tombstone Tales of Ross Bay Cemetery Page.
Phillips, C. H. The History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Jackson, TN: Publishing House C.M.E. Church, 1898. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1972.
Political Graveyard Page.
Smith, Jonathan K. T. Tombstone Inscriptions in Historic Riverside Cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee. Rev. ed. Jackson, TN [?]: privately published, 1998.
_______, comp. Tombstone Inscriptions from Black Cemeteries in Madison County, Tennessee. Jackson, TN: privately published, 1995.
________, comp. My Old Salem Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions Scrapbook. Jackson, TN: privately published, 1995.
Sons of Confederate Veterans. John B. Ingram Bivouac 5 Camp #219 page.
Tennessee State Library and Archives. "World War I Veterans Index."
United States Congress. "William T. Haskell" and "Milton Brown" in Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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Verbal boundary description and justification
The nominated boundaries contain approximately 10.5 acres indicated as Parcel "B" 8 on the attached Madison County Tax Map 88 D. These 10.5 acres represent all of the historic property associated with Riverside Cemetery during its period of significance.
Photographs by: Carroll Van West
Middle Tennessee State University, Center for Historic Preservation
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Date: 9 April 2002 and 13 August 2002
Negatives: Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37243
Overview facing southwest
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Overview facing west/southwest
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Overview facing west/northwest
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Overview facing west
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Overview facing west
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Overview facing west
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Overview facing south
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Overview facing south/southwest
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Overview facing southeast
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Overview facing northeast
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Overview facing east
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Overview facing east/northeast
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Overview facing east
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Overview facing west
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Russell Family Plot
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Overview facing south
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J. M. Cartmell-C. P. Hoffman Family Plots
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McCowat Family Plot
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Brick Barrel Vault
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Amos W. Jones grave marker
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Cartmell Family Plot
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Robert H. Cartmell grave marker
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Mary Jane Cartmell grave marker
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Lizzie Cartmell grave marker
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William E. Cartmell grave marker
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Infant Cartmell grave markers
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Robert I. Chester grave marker
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Elizabeth Hays Chester grave marker
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Dr. William E. Butler grave marker
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Dr. William E. Butler grave marker
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R. A. Allison mausoleum
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Elijah Bigelow grave marker
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Elizabeth Muse grave marker
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Wrapped Body grave marker
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Marie Lou Cartmell Hoffman grave marker
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M. H. Nance grave marker
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Milton and Sarah Brown grave marker
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Harriet Hampton grave marker
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Lane Family Plot
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Bishop Isaac Lane grave marker
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Dr. James Franklin Lane grave marker
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Mary Edna Johnson Lane grave marker
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Entry gate, facing southeast
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Wrought iron fence, facing west
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1. Jonathan K. T. Smith, Tombstone Inscriptions in Historic Riverside Cemetery in Jackson Tennessee, rev. ed., (Jackson, TN [?]: privately published, 1998), (12 July 2002).
2. Smith, Tombstone Inscriptions, 81.
3. Smith, "Remarks," Tombstone Inscriptions, 1.
4. Ibid., 3.
6. Ibid., 4.
7. Rachel Jackson's sister, Jane Donelson Hays (died 1834), is believed to be buried in lot 355B, possibly in the partially exposed brick vault. Her sons, Stokely Donelson Hays (died 1831) and Samuel Jackson Hays (died 1866) are also believed to be buried in the Hays family lots 355-356. In April 1869, Riverside's sexton reported to the city council that " 'Gen'l. S. J. Hays removed from Butler & Hays vault and buried in old cemetery. Mrs. S. J. Hays, Mrs. Deadrick, Lizzie Hays, J. Hays, Mr. Preston, all from Butler & Hays vault and bur. in old graveyard.' " Jonathan K. T. Smith, "Addenda," Riverside, 2.
8. Juliana Conner, "Diary," in Emma Inman Williams, Historic Madison: The Story of Jackson and Madison County Tennessee From the Prehistoric Moundbuilders to 1917 (Jackson, TN: Madison County Historical Society, 1946), 468.
9. Butler, a native of Pennsylvania, began his medical practice in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. While there, he married Rachel Jackson's niece, Martha "Patsy" Hays.
10. Goodspeed Biographical Appendix, Madison County, Tennessee (12 August 2002).
11. Smith, Riverside, 54-56.
12. Jonathan K. T. Smith, "Families," My Old Salem Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions Scrapbook, (Jackson,TN [?]: privately published, 1995), (23 July 2002), 10-13.
13. Smith, "Riverside Cemetery," 1.
14. Smith, "Riverside Cemetery," 1.
15. Williams, Historic Madison, 198; U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, University of Virginia Library, Geospatial & Statistical Data Center Page, (24 August 2001). In the 1860 census, Madison County recorded 11,400 whites and 10,095 blacks with only 83 of the latter free.
16. Smith, "Riverside Cemetery," Tombstone Inscriptions, 1-3.
17. Jonathan K. T. Smith, comp., "Supplement," Tombstone Inscriptions from Black Cemeteries in Madison County, Tennessee (Jackson, TN: privately published, 1995), 4.
18. For example, Dr. Lane formed the West Tennessee Farmers Conference and the Negro Businessmen's League to facilitate discussion of economic and social problems and to network with other blacks across the region. In 1944, he and other presidents of historically black colleges organized the United Negro College Fund that continues to provide financial support for worthy black scholars. Much of his significance reflects the later social history of Jackson.
19. Jonathan K. T. Smith, "Families," My Old Salem Cemetery Tombstone Transcriptions Scrapbook, 14.
20. Goodspeed Biographical Appendix.
21. Smith, Tombstone Inscriptions, 81.
22. Monument Styles," Old Cemeteries Society. Victoria Tombstone Tales of Ross Bay Cemetery Page. (26 November 2001).