Cemeteries' 'Decoration Day' continues long tradition

Angie Mayes • Updated May 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Decoration Day services will take place Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Greenvale Community Cemetery to honor and pay tribute to those buried at the historic final resting place for many former settlers and residents of the Greenvale community. 

In the event of inclement weather, the service will move to the nearby Greenvale Baptist Church. The cemetery and church are in Wilson County, south of Lebanon off State Highway 266 on Greenvale Road.

According to cemetery records, the earliest recorded deaths taken from headstones are November 1886, January 1896 and August 1899. The cemetery was officially established in 1900 after property owner Dr. J.S. McMinn ‘bargained and sold” a parcel of land located on top of a hill located on his property overlooking the Greenvale valley to several members of the Greenvale Community who wanted to establish a final resting place for themselves and family members.

Dr. McMinn divided the parcel into 25 sections – 10 graves per section – selling them for $5 each with the stipulation the graves “would be retained by property owner until paid.”

Cemetery rules and regulations were adopted during the first business meeting in 1907, indicating the cemetery “should be cared for with tools and wheelbarrow to be designated and paid for by shareholders.” Annual assessment for cemetery upkeep varied from 25 cents to 50 cents with minutes calling for owners to move excess dirt within three days after burial or be charged a removal fee.

The cemetery currently has a perpetual care fund established to fund upkeep and maintenance. The name “Decoration Day” originated from Memorial Day established years ago to honor deceased veterans who served their country. Family members and friends decorate the graves with flowers for this special day set aside to honor relatives.

For more information, contact Jeff Phillips at 615-426-6032.


Caraway Cemetery

There are many gravesites at the Caraway Cemetery in Gladeville.

The community cemetery, just off Stewart’s Ferry Pike, was built in the late 1893 by the Caraway family, which laid out the cemetery on the family farm. It’s currently the final resting place of many family members.

This year, as in past years since 1988, the caretakers and families of the cemetery will observe a memorial and decoration service Sunday at 2 p.m.

“This has been a tradition longer than 1988, but before that it was mainly a clean-up event, said Gladeville resident Wayne Foster. “Now, with families bringing fresh and other flowers to the gravesites, it helps improve the look of the cemetery.”

The public, not just family members, is invited to help decorate the graves this Sunday. For more information, call Foster at 615-444-7057.


Other services

Other cemetery services will take place in Wilson County this month. Also Sunday at 2 p.m. will be Lebanon’s Grant Cemetery decoration service. Contributions to the cemetery fund may be mailed to Cheryl Henry at 2850 Ben Green Road, Lebanon, TN 37090.

The Jones Hill Cemetery decoration service will take place May 22 at 2:30 p.m. in Watertown.

Local men’s grandfather honored

Turner Lee Wilkerson – great-great-great-grandfather of Ben Wilkerson and James Denny – was honored last Saturday at 2 p.m. by the Sons of the American Revolution at the Wilkerson family cemetery.

The elder Wilkerson was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and moved to Smith County from Virginia in the early 1800s. There, he settled on several hundred acres of land, given to him as a land grant for his service in the Revolutionary War. The land was passed down to successive generations of the Wilkerson family until it was sold a few years ago, Ben Wilkerson said.

A memorial stone was unveiled at the family cemetery. Ben Wilkerson said relatives from across the U.S. attended the ceremony. He said the cemetery is the burial place of several Wilkerson family members, some in unmarked graves.

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