Welcome! Friends of Nashville City Cemetery Newsletter
NCCA November Newsletter 2016
Letter from the President
Dear NCCA Members and Friends,

As I gaze through this gorgeous Autumn Foliage here on the grounds, I am reminded how lucky we are to have such a significant and beautiful treasure in the Nashville City Cemetery.  I want to thank each of you for your tremendous support throughout the year.  By your generosity, we may continue to improve facilities, research, and services.

This year’s Living History Tour was a splendid success!  If you missed the fun, you may check it out on YouTube.  And drop by to see our live sheep, the Nashville Chew Crew.  Thank you too, to author Brian Allison.  Plans are already underway for 2017, so please mark your calendars for October!

We are also thrilled to announce that cleaning of our next block of monuments is well underway.  And we will fortunately be able to fund nearly a score of replacement tombstones this year.  Also look for exciting news on the horizon in the Grundy lot, as well as new Kiosk pages.  Improvements have already commenced in the General James Robertson lot, with more to come there as well.

Our Arboretum Guide for the Nashville Tree Foundation, has been recently revised and restocked.  And we have had the exciting donation of three priceless ‘Restoration’ American Chestnut trees, which will someday grace the grounds again with their massively spreading branches.

Finally, plans are in the making for a beautiful, brand new old City Cemetery book.  If you have photos, information, or maps that may be of use, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  Underwriting support is welcome as well.

Hope to see each of you for the camaraderie and warmth of our Annual Holiday Membership Party, December 8th.  It shall be a lovely evening.

Historically yours,

Todd Breyer
NCCA president 2016

On the Tour -  Susan 
portrayed by Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell  
Susan was an enslaved woman working in the household of Sarah Childress Polk. She slipped slowly into insanity following an illness in 1861. Despite efforts to watch her, she managed to smuggle a knife from the kitchen. Susan murdered her children, then used the knife on herself. They sleep together in an unmarked grave, one of the many forgotten souls whose story has slipped away with the years.

Susan’s children were buried in an unmarked grave in mid-November 1861 in City Cemetery. Three days later, the grave was opened and Susan was buried with them. The names and ages of her children were not recorded. Their graves rest among nearly 2,000 unmarked graves of people who died while enslaved in Nashville. These graves were dug between 1846-1865.

When doctors told Susan that she had “congestion of the brain,” it meant cerebral swelling. In modern medical terms, that could be meningitis, encephalitis, or a type of fever. There is no way to be certain anymore. Her symptoms were not recorded since she was enslaved. The newspapers reported that “derangement was hereditary in that family of servants,” but noted that she showed no signs of illness before. The same article mentioned that she had “always been kind to her children.”

Record Breaking Crowds at the 2016
Annual Living History Tour   
“Tales from the City Cemetery”
By LHT Co-Chair Ashley Poe  
On October 15th, the Nashville City Cemetery Association hosted the annual Living History Tour.  The theme of this year’s tour was “Tales from the City Cemetery”- true tales of murder, scandal, and retribution.  Highlights from the tour include a duel between Thomas J. Overton and John Dickson- fought by our own board members Albert Austin and Jim Hoobler, respectively- William Heffernan, a city contractor who was murdered in cold blood in 1865, and Dr. Jack Macon, an enslaved doctor who refused to stop practicing medicine.  The focus this year was the untold story of several who are buried in City Cemetery.  For example, Susan was an enslaved woman in Sarah Childress Polk’s downtown Nashville home.  After a bout of illness, she murdered her two children, then herself.  With around twenty thousand burials at the cemetery, the NCCA feels that it’s important to give every individual a chance to be remembered by history. 

It was a great day, with an estimated 500 plus attendees.  The tours began later than usual this year, running from 3:00pm to 7:00pm.  We were able to catch a giant, beautiful orange moon after 6:00, setting a perfect scene for the tour.  Attendees also got to stop and see Zach Richardson and the Chew Crew.  The Chew Crew are hair sheep who are used to maintain grass in an environmentally friendly and safe method.  They were a huge hit!

NCCA wishes to thank all of our interpreters, tour guides, volunteers, and most importantly, the attendees.  The Living History Tour is our largest annual fundraiser, and the goal is to promote awareness about the cemetery and its residents.  We seek to educate and entertain at the same time.  A huge number of tour attendees had never been to the City Cemetery before, and were able to learn about the cemetery, its hours of operation, and residents.  We look forward to many more years of educational, entertaining tours.  Be on the lookout for news about the 2017 Living History Tour!

Missed the 2016 LHT?  Want to revisit it?  Check out these links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMBUlSEcg70&authuser=0 [Watch LHT on youtube]

http://www.thenashvillecitycemetery.org   [LHT 2016 Brochure & much more]
Metro Nashville Network for rebroadcast of the LHT 2016 interpretations.

Learn more about the adorable Chew Crew. They are "in the system" now and the Nashville City Cemetery  was their second job on a Metro Parks property.   Metro is actually in the process of soliciting bids for a 5-year contract to provide Controlled Grazing on Metro-owned property county wide.  We may be seeing a lot more of the Chew Crew at NCC.
http://nashvillechewcrew.com/meet-our-team  Zach was the shepherd during the  LHT 

Master Gardener Corner

Robert Mather, 
President Master Gardeners of Davidson County & Co-Chair of the City Cemetery Project. Master Gardener Corner & NCCA Board Secretary

Fall is here finally!  This does not mean our work in the yard and garden is over.  Get rid of those old leaves and stems that have fallen, especially near plants that might have had disease problems this season.  In general, healthy plants will benefit from a good mulch of leaves around the stems and trunk. That little blanket of mulch helps the plants winter over and hold in moisture.  Mulch also blocks out the sun on your perennial plants and keeps them dormant until spring as well as weeds from getting a head start on your spring gardens. Don’t forget your compost pile. Come spring you will be glad you have composted (don’t forget to turn the leaves).

Wait until late winter (February) to do any pruning on trees and shrubs, otherwise you might stimulate new growth that winter’s freezes will kill off and weaken your plants.  This is why we wait until February to trim the Boxwood at the Nashville City Cemetery.  We’ll fill you in on the proper way to trim you Boxwood in February.

Winter months do not mean you cannot enjoy your gardens. Witch Hazel, Nine-bark, American Beauty-berry and Blue star are among the many shrubs that change the color of their foliage.  Hubricht’s blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii) has amazing clusters of light blue blooms in the spring and soft, fine-textured mounts of green, narrow, almost needle like leaves all summer.  in fall, they change from green to luminous gold that seem ablaze in the sunlight.  Hubricht’s blue star prefers full to part sun and well-drained soil, slightly on the dry side. This is one of several native varieties available in our area, include in the gardens at the Nashville City Cemetery.
 The “Cemetery Sweepers” Project:
Nashville City Cemetery provides work opportunities
for the Men of Matthew 25. 

Jim Finchum, the Director of Matthew 25 writes that “[o]ne might ask the question “Do you know what we get to do today”? I find that there is only one answer, “We get to make an impact in someone’s life.” Matthew 25 is celebrating 30 years of service to homeless men in our community and has made an impact on more than 5000 lives with 50% of those men being veterans.

With a mission that provides emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing, Matthew 25 provides services to homeless men in the Nashville-Davidson County area, who have the desire to help themselves move from the streets to become productive and self-sufficient members of society, through structured programs that Matthew 25 identified as work, save, learn, and progress.

Work is a top priority as the unemployment rate plays a key role in homelessness.  Matthew 25 helps find our residents employment opportunities. The Nashville City Cemetery is one such blessing to Matthew 25. Each month The Nashville City Cemetery allows Matthew 25 to bring 5 men to sweep grass clippings after the city mows the lawn and remove branches that have fallen on the tombstones.  While the men receive the opportunity to be employed they receive much more of a personal benefit as well.

One area of interest the Men of Matthew 25 have is history. This employment opportunity has provided just that. Our men were able to hear the history of The Nashville City Cemetery from Fletch Coke, one of the founders of Matthew 25. These history lessons range from the breakdown of who is buried where, to the tomb of William Driver and the history of naming the flag “Old Glory”.  The history provided has instilled a great amount of respect with the men who have had the opportunity to work there. A respect that has led these men to share the experience they are having at the Nashville City Cemetery with others.

One resident says:  “I was on a personal roller coaster. I had serious medical and drug problems. My family had lost faith in me. Matthew 25 provided me a drug and alcohol free environment and helped me find full-time employment. I am now able to visualize getting my life back together, and being united with my wife and children again.”

Thank you Nashville City Cemetery for caring about our community, caring about the unfortunate circumstances that surround our community as stated by one resident above, and thank you for taking active participation in changing lives of homeless men by allowing such a great opportunity to Matthew 25.

Jim Finchum
Director Matthew 25

To learn more about Matthew 25,
visit their website www.matthew25helps.com    

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