Historic cemetery receives attention from public

Published 2:57 pm Monday, January 22, 2018

While Mother Nature threw a curveball on the original plan, a handful of citizens would not be deterred in their mission to revitalize a historical gravesite.

One week after their cleanup had to be rescheduled due to weather, volunteers made their way to Cedar Grove Cemetery in Elizabethton Saturday to start the process of cleaning up the area as part of a grassroots effort to preserve part of the area’s history that dates back to the 19th Century.

Since arriving to the area roughly nine years ago, Elizabethton IDEAS Group member Earl Stone has made an effort to help where possible. After learning about the location’s history, Cedar Grove took the attention of Stone.

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“I’m not a native to Carter County, I’m originally from Northeast Louisiana,” Stone recently told the Elizabethton Star. “I saw the story of Cedar Grove on the news and it struck me to help anyway possible, and as soon as possible.”

And Stone’s IDEAS comrades were quick to join in the fun Saturday. Over the span of morning hours, the group was able to clear a sizeable amount of debris and shrubbery scattered across the cemetery. IDEAS members were joined by Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and others during the day. Jiggy Ray’s also provided lunch for workers.

“I want to say thank you to the sheriff for letting us be of assistance and definitely want to give a thanks to all those that came out Saturday,” Stone said Monday morning via cell phone. “This project will take a little time to complete, but the outcome is well worth it. The best part of this is actually having help, input and assistance from the community. I’m intrigued, excited and blessed.”

According to the historical marker located at Cedar Grove, the location was established as a “colored cemetery” in the early 19th Cemetery. Resting at the location are some of the county’s early African-American families, church leaders, veterans and the county’s last known slave, Josephine “Aunt Jo” Taylor,” a slave of Nat Taylor — the father of former Tennessee governors Alf and Bob Taylor.

State leaders have been recently working with the county to help situate the location. Lunceford has recently offered the department’s assistance in maintaining the cemetery.

Individuals looking to get involved in the next cleanup can visit the location on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. in the Southside community of Elizabethton.