State Archaeologist Visits Cemetery
May 27, 1997 Visit to Horseshoe Bend Hardgrave Cemetery and Providence Church Cemetery by the Tennessee State Archaeologist, G.F. (Nick) Fielder
I met Nick at the Horseshoe Bend Cemetery at 2:00 PM today. Because of heavy rains and mud, we walked up to the graveyard. He was impressed by it and had never seen it before. He will be writing a report on his visit including all he discovered and all the information I had already given him. Thus there will be a permanent file on both of these cemeteries in the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation.
Mr. Fielder uses a probe to check the soil in possible grave locations and is skilled at determining graves, even without markers. He is 100% sure that someone is buried in the two sites marked for Francis and Sarah Hardgrave. Upon his official word, I am declaring Horseshoe Bend the final resting place for Francis and Sarah. He checked in front of every marker and found a grave, plus several other graves with no markers. We are sure of at least 30 graves and possibly many more. He confirmed that Columbus, W.H., F.H., and two other unreadable stones are for infants or small children.
We used compasses to check the directions of the headstones, all of which are facing east and lined up in north/south rows. They are a few degrees off, but he says that there has been a 9 degree change in the magnetic poles since the early 1800’s.
He helped me find two surveyor stakes and determined that one of the maps I have is an official survey of the graveyard and surrounding lots. Thus we measured and stepped off the boundaries of the cemetery. I will clean up to these boundaries, mark them and prepare for the fence we will ultimately provide.
We spent less of our two hours at the Providence Church Cemetery which was also not in his records. He looked at the stones and the ground, then made a few suggestions on getting people involved in helping preserve the cemeteries. He has also armed me with a state law that makes owners of property including a cemetery obligated to “. . . protect such gravesite or crypt from disturbance.” This may especially help me to get some more assistance from the Condo Association considering the vandalism there. And I hope to use it to get the Horseshoe Bend Association to help with a fence.
Today’s two hours with Nick Fielder were both enjoyable and beneficial to the preservation of the cemeteries. I am gathering support. Earlier this month I talked with the city councilman from the Providence Church district and he has promised to donate money and encourage involvement.
Charlie Doggett, May 27, 1997
TN Laws & Guidelines on Historic Cemeteries
Specific Laws on old cemeteries in Tennessee