04 February 2009

It's Time for a Road Trip, and Tombstones are on the Horizon! (post 1 of 5)

Me, my Mom, and my Aunt. From time to time, when schedules permit, we have a "girl's day." You know the kind - a get together that allows all involved to not only enjoy themselves (usually over food; my Aunt calls it fellowship), but also vent about the good and bad in life. These days are fun. We still have them. The fun really begins, though, when we take a "girl's trip!" These are 1-2 day getaways to a not too distant destination. This is number one of a series of posts in response to genealogy blogging prompt #5: Genealogy on Vacation.

When I read genealogy blogging prompt #5, I chuckled. It reminded me of a few trips in which I dragged my Mom and Aunt to cemeteries. Then I realized something: I have dragged them to a cemetery on EVERY girl's trip we've taken! Had to blog about it. It all started a few years ago when my aunt just had to get away. I mean, she HAD to get away. It was that, or she was going to "nut up" (as we like to say). So we began to plan our trip. Scratch that. I began to plan our trip. You see, one of the things my Aunt loves about these trips is the fact that I do the beginning information gathering. All she has to do is arrive on the given day at a given time. I've done everything else. I have the directions, maps, and itinerary ready. All she has to do is drive; I navigate. (My dog doesn't get to go, no matter how hard he tries.)

It's no secret in the family that I'm a cemetery and history lover. My Aunt likes history well enough, but I don't think cemeteries were too high on her priority list. So, on that first trip, I had some information regarding local cemeteries, but I wasn't really expecting to use it. I didn't want to scare her away from inviting me again, after all! We did use the information, though. We went to TWO local cemeteries! Little did I realize, that first trip was the basis for all trips to come -- a tradition was born. Read on about girl trip #1 to Chattanooga, Tennessee. More destinations will be coming up in a series of posts. Photos are included for your viewing pleasure. :-)

Our main mission for the trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee was to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. In fact, we went straight there, even before we checked into our hotel. The aquarium is located on the Tennessee River. There is an ocean section and a river section. The ocean section was cool (I particularly loved the rays), but I think I learned more in the river section.

I must also mention the butterfly garden. My Aunt and I both love to take pictures, though we sometimes focus on different things. We were in the Butterfly Garden for a really, really, really long time. Something we wouldn't have been able to do in any other company. ;-) A butterfly or two landed on my shirt, and one landed on my Aunt's purse. Fun time!

Right outside the Tennessee Aquarium was a very nice water monument, as well as a historical marker about the Trail of Tears in Chattanooga. Text from the marker:
Trail of Tears
In May 1838 soldiers, under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott, began rounding up Cherokee Indians in this area who had refused to move to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). About 15,000 Cherokees were placed in stockades in Tennessee and Alabama until their removal. Roughly 3,000 were sent by boat down the Tennessee River and the rest were marched overland in the fall and winter of 1839 - 39. This forced removal under harsh conditions resulted in the deaths of about 4,000 Cherokees.

In late June 1838 a party of 1,070 poorly equipped Indians was marched overland from Ross' Landing at Chattanooga, TN, to Waterloo, AL because of low water in the upper Tennessee River. Following the general route of present-day U.S.Hwy. 72, they camped at Bolivar, Bellefonte, and Woodville (Jackson County, AL). About 300 escaped along the way, and on June 26, the remainder refused to proceed from Bellefonte. The local militia, under the command of Army Capt. G. S. Drane, was called out to get the group started and escort it to Waterloo. Arriving in miserable condition on July 10, 1838, the Cherokees were placed on boats to continue their journey West.

The "Trail of Tears," which resulted from the Indian Removal Act passed by U.S. Congress in 1830, is one of the darkest chapters in American history.

This historical marker will forever mark the beginning of this "Trail of Tears."
After getting some food and a great green apple drink, we headed out to find our hotel. We later went to a drive-in movie. Yes, they are few and far between. I found one in north Georgia (Trenton) called Wilderness Outdoor Theater. My Aunt was taking lots of pictures, of course. I was little hesitant (I felt silly!), but finally snuck in a few.

The next morning we grabbed breakfast and checked out of the hotel. We were on our way to two cemeteries. The first one was a Confederate Cemetery. I honestly believe that was the only name I saw, but I cannot be sure (bad Graveyard Rabbit). It was located in downtown Chattanooga, but not a tourist area. When we first pulled up, we saw the gate was closed.

My Aunt called a number we had that was supposed to be for information, but we really didn't get anything out of it. While driving around the cemetery, trying to see it from the car, I noticed a fence did not go all the way around it. My Aunt stopped the car, and I hopped up onto a short wall and ran in. She was not in a parking space, but on the road, so I hurried and snapped a few photos.

There was a large obelisk monument with "Our Confederate Dead" on it in the center of the portion of the cemetery not fenced. As you might imagine, many of the gravestones were diffcult to read. Here's one for Sergt. August Lorenzen.

Here's another stone that caught my Aunt's eye. I snapped a photo on our way out of the cemetery.

John Pomfret Long
Born Knoxville, Tennessee
November 25, 1807
Died Chattanooga, Tennessee
January 30, 1889

He moved to Ross' Landing in 1836.
Became its first Postmaster (1837-1845)
At his suggestion the name Ross' Landing
was changed to Chattanooga in 1838.
Was the town's leading merchant (1836-1860)

Our second cemetery to visit was the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This is a huge, sprawling, beautiful cemetery. From their website: "On Dec. 25, 1863, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga," issued General Orders No. 296 creating a national cemetery in commemoration of the Battles of Chattanooga, Nov. 23-27, 1863. Gen. Thomas selected the cemetery site during the assault of his troops that carried Missionary Ridge and brought the campaign to an end. The land was originally appropriated, but later purchased, from local residents Joseph Ruohs, Robert M. Hooke and J. R. Slayton.

The site Thomas selected was approximately 75 acres of a round hill rising with a uniform slope to a height of 100 feet; it faced Missionary Ridge on one side and Lookout Mountain on the other. Gen. Grant established his headquarters on the summit of the hill during the early phase of the four-day battle for Lookout Mountain."

One entry is under a large archway. It is inscribed: "Here Rest In Peace 12,956 Citizens Who Died For Their Country In The Years 1861 To 1865."

The monument we were most excited to see in the Chattanooga National Cemetery was the one for Andrews Raiders.

[Note: There is an Andrews Raiders virtual cemetery on FindAGrave created by Rob Weller that's worth a look.]

The rest of day two was spent on Civil War Battlefields. While not traditional cemeteries, I strongly believe they deserve a mention as such.

We drove up Lookout Mountain to visit the Robert Cravens house and Point Park. The views were breathtaking. The mountainside was the site of Battle of Lookout Mountain, also known as "The Battle Above the Clouds" fought November 1863. There are many monuments at Point Park. The New York memorial (pictured) features a Union and a Confederate Soldier shaking hands.

I also took a photo from Ochs Overlook. From here (on a clear day) you can see the city of Chattanooga, as well as major sites of the Civil War - Brown's Ferry, Orchard Knob, and Missionary Ridge.

Our final stop on the way back home was at Chickamauga Battlefield. There was much to see here, as well. The museum is well worth a visit. The Battle of Chickamauga was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. More than 34,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed or wounded. The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park is the nation's oldest and largest.

We did not have time to fully explore this military park, but we absorbed what we could. One site we come across gave me goosebumps. It being back in the woods, and there being thunder in the distance added to the atmosphere.

Benjamin H. Helm
Brig. Gen. C.S.A.
Commanding Brigade
Berckinridge's Division
Mortally Wounded Here
About 10am Sept 20th, 1863

Benjamin Hardin Helm was a brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln.

The last monument we viewed at the Chickamauga Battlefield was the one from the state of Georgia. As you might imagine, it's the tallest monument in the park. The color bearer atop the monument points north toward Chattanooga. [Note: Nick Kurtz at Battlefield Wanderings has a nice post with more photos - Georgia Monument at Chickamauga.]

The words inscribed on the Georgia monument will be what I leave you with. Thanks for following me on road trip #1...

"To the lasting memory of all her sons who fought on this field - those who fought and lived and those who fought and died. Those who gave much and those who gave all."

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