As part of getting to know my new town, I have made a couple of trips to the Old Gray Cemetery that was established in 1850 in downtown Knoxville. My sister Cayley and I first visited Old Gray last fall as part of our sightseeing tour of the city. We don’t have any relatives buried there, but we share a common love for cemeteries. We walked among the graves, observing the quiet resting place for over 9000 people including Tennessee politicians, businessmen and Civil War Veterans. I knew I wanted to return as a way to learn about the history of the city and the people who lived here.
Before my next visit, I reviewed the cemetery website which is more informative than most of those I have used in the past. Here I found a printable map with the “famous” graves and a short biography of the historical figures. I was also able to get a list of all the Civil War soldiers buried there. Of the 185 men who served, 82 were Union, 102 were Confederate and there was one man who served on both sides. This confirms what I know about Eastern Tennessee and it’s divided loyalties. Literally brothers and neighbors could be on different sides of the Civil War and now they lie together in their final resting place. There is something poetic about that.
On entering the cemetery, I was impressed by their “user friendly” map and a weather protected binder listing of all the people buried there and the location of their graves. If you did have a relative buried here, it would be a refreshing sight to be able to find them yourself! I wish more cemeteries did this. I went back to the binder a few times when I was trying to find the exact location of a particular grave.
Here are a few people I visited – I will be writing about them and other interesting characters in future blogs, as I learn more about them through Tennessee records.