Efforts Underway to Reclaim Historic Cemetery

An historic cemetery in Northern Smith County gets a much needed face lift. More than 150 years of slaves, community leaders and war veterans are buried within this four-acre tract of land, lost among sharp, thorn-covered vines and thick underbrush. Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith brought about 10 trustees to the cemetery this morning. He has a history of cleaning up old cemeteries, including this one ten years ago.

"I have a philosophy," said Smith, "and it's not an original philosophy, but I heard it years before, how do you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?"

It's a sentiment echoed in the hearts of many descendants of those buried here, including Jean Polk, who thanked Sheriff Smith for his efforts.

"We just appreciate them coming and taking care of this," said Polk, "so we can come out and find other descendants that's buried out here."

Within hours of beginning the cleanup, trustees had already found three grave stones which had not previously been officially recorded, including 8-year-old Cathrine Campbell, 33-old W.M. Rhome, and 19-month-old L.P. Brown. And of course, the grave site of world war one veteran, Columbus Littlejohn, is now clearly visible for all to see.

"How can you forget veterans?" asked Smith. "How can you forget the people that made this country what it is today? They deserve recognition after all of these years and it's sad to see it in this situation. But, we're about to change that."

Sheriff Smith says the cleanup process is expected to take several months. He added, within six months, it should look as good as the Hopewell Cemetery which currently sits adjacent to it.