Recorded History of the Nashville City Cemetery
It will be remembered that by official agreement that part of the City Cemetery so long in litigation between the Cemetery Company and the Nashville and Decatur railroad has been finally ceded to the latter. It will be borne in mind that this cession involved the unpleasant duty of removing the remains of a large number of persons who had been buried there, as was supposed their last earthly resting places. To secure final places of sepulture for these the Mayor and city Council purchased ground in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, and agreed to have the remains removed under the immediate supervision of the surviving relatives. The contract for removal was given to R. H. Groomes, undertaker on Cherry street, and the sad work was commenced on Monday morning. They are now fairly under way. We visited the cemetery yesterday afternoon, and saw a number of hands engaged in exhuming these remains of coffined clay. The work is being done carefully and is in highly responsible hands. The sensations are painful enough as one after another we see unearthed the crumbing frame work of an immortal soul that once flushed with manly pride in our business departments, or glowed with woman’s love. These reflections superinduced though mournful, are not wholly unprofitable… As fast as the bodies are exhumed they are conveyed to the Mt. Olivet Cemetery and reinterred in the ground allotted to that purpose. There have been twenty-five thus exhumed and reinterred, and there are two hundred and fifty others.
Mr. Groomes is sending boxes and cases, as they are demanded daily, and the work it is thought, will be completed in about twenty days.
The resting place of these remains will then be given up to the railroad, and the shrill whistle of the locomotive will sound where but yesterday the breezes sighed a requiem over the quiet dead. The remains will be in their final resting place in Mt. Olivet.
The Forgotten Brave
On the open common immediately south of the City Cemetery, we recently stumbled upon the neglected graves of the Confederate dead whose names are given below. There is no enclosure whatever around the dreary spot, and the mounds which mark the resting place of the brave boys who left their homes in the far South to meet death around the ramparts of Nashville are fast being obliterated. Impoverished as they generally are, the citizens of nearly every southern village have given decent interment to the remains of all Confederate soldiers who fell in their vicinity. For Nashville is reserved the positive discredit of begrudgingly to the few gallant fellows who left their bones among us the sepulture to which they are entitled.
May we not suggest that the ladies take this matter in hand – or that the White Crook Corps lend their aid in behalf of an object second only to a proper care of the living. Some of our large property holders will certainly donate a lot, while the proceeds of a single performance of the White Crook will simply suffice for rest.
Totals: Alabama 18; Arkansas 4; Georgia 6; Kentucky 1; Louisiana 5
Graves of the Confederate Dead.
Sunday last was a day long to be remembered by the citizens of Nashville, and the noble response of the ladies to this work assigned them… From one until six o’clock our streets were crowded with fair women and brave men, winding their way to Mt. Olivet and the city Cemetery. The street cars, some twenty in number, was passing every five minute, but did not afford nothing like the accommodation demanded by the immense mass that crowded the streets along the line of the road. Many persons pressed into service hacks and other vehicles, and others who could not obtain accommodation, were to be seen walking to city Cemetery, with their hands full of flowers and evergreens. It is estimated that fully ten thousand persons visited the Cemeteries during the day.
Every Confederate grave was lavished with flowers strewn by fair hands and some of the number were handsomely decorated. There was a solemnity in the whole affair, and everything passed more quietly than could hardly have been expected in such a large crowd…
We hope to see the custom kept up from year to year. The offering is a simple one and will do the dead no good, but yet it shows the gallant heroes are remembered still.
The fence of the south side of the City Cemetery, constitutimg the dividing line between that place and the depot of the Nashville and Decatur railroad, having been entirely or partially destroyed, hogs and cows have easy access to the sacred City of the Dead and are not slow to avail themselves of the circumstances. It can not, therefore, be a matter of surprise that tombstones are broken down and newly made graves made a prey to the rooting propensities of filthy swine. The attention of the men claiming to be the city authorities has been repeatedly called to the fact but they do not seem inclined to abate the abuse complained of.
If the Mayor of the City Council or the Cemetery Committee or somebody else having the necessary authority and a decent regard for the feelings of the living and the memory of the dead could order the immediate rebuilding of the fence, the trouble and money so expended would rebound much more to their credit than if thrown away in getting up boisterous political processions and noisy ovations…
The city authorities claim to have the government of the city in their own previous keeping. The control and care of the cemetery is embraced in the sphere of their official duty. Thousands of our citizens are sacredly interested in seeing that they do no longer disregard this important part of their obligations to the living and the dead.
THE CONFEDERATE DEAD
Messrs. Anson Nelson & Co., real estate Agents of this city, on yesterday concluded a satisfactory contract with the lady managers of the Tennessee Memorial Association, having their headquarters in this city, for the purchase, at very reasonable terms, of one of the most eligible sites in Mount Olivet Cemetery, three mile from the city, on the Lebanon Turnpike, to be used expressly for the reinterment of the remains of all Confederate soldiers buried in the immediate vicinity of Nashville. The site selected in this beautiful necropolis of the dead is nearly, if not quite, located in the very center of the original design of Mount Olivet.
The extent of the property affords ample space for the sepulture of two thousand bodies; this number it is true, is greater than are buried immediately around Nashville, but the project evinces a commendable and liberal spirit in the ladies having the purchase in charge, and will avoid the unsightly crowding that characterizes many burial places. It is intended to employ artificial labor and ingenuity in arranging the site. The central point is to be elevated above the remainder, and will have a pleasing slope to its outer edge or circumference. The mounds will be arranged in lines and diverging foot-paths bordered with flowers and perennial grass will pass between them. On the outer edge or border will be an elegant avenue intended as a carriage way, twenty feet in breadth, and to be bordered on either side with a row of ornamental magnolia trees, evergreens, etc. In the center of this miniature mountain, ample room will be left for the erection of a suitable monument or memorial in after years.
Messrs. Nelson & Co. have agreed to arrange the ground for the reception of the remains, as it will become a portion of Mount Olivet Cemetery, will hereafter keep it is good order, thereby forever dispelling any speculations regarding neglect or inattention. Too much praise can not be bestowed on the thoughtful and provident ladies of Nashville and elsewhere engaged in the movement. They have but one other obligation to perform – the re-interment of the remains and all is done…
The Memorial Concert
The concert of the amateurs in behalf and for the benefit of the Memorial Association was repeated last evening to another delighted and crowded house. The corps of vocalists was strengthened by a valuable acquisition, in the presence of J. W. Keating of Memphis, who, at the earnest (blotted) remained over in Nashville to aid in the performance. The second performance was quite equal to the first, and the singers acquitted themselves with great credit, as acknowledgement of which on the part of the audience was evidence in their rapturous applause and repeated encores. At this late hour we can not attempt a detailed critique of the performances, nor, under the circumstances, are such things always to be expressed in amateur performance. Suffice it to say the performances were such as to make us proud to say we are a Nashvillian.
We give notice in advance that on tomorrow we will publish a full programme (torn) memorial services to take place will be dedicated with appropriate ceremonies at Mount Olivet (torn) Cemeteries on Sunday next. The former burial place will be dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. The work of reinterring those Confederates dead lying to the west of the City Cemetery is going forward vary rapidly, but it will be impossible to transfer those buried in the City Cemetery before memorial day, hence the necessity of services at both places. This was determined on by the ladies of the Memorial Association, who held a large and interesting meeting yesterday afternoon.
Beautiful and Solemn Programme for the
From time immemorial it has been a beautiful custom to strew the graves of the loved and lost with bright flowers, emblems of the love of the living for the dead. The orange flowers of the bridal wreath and the immortelles that decorate the tomb mark two great epochs of human existence, and the memory of the one and the other forms the golden or the saddening reminiscence of all of us who have passed the heyday of youth. How often has the same gentle hand caressingly crowned the virgin brow and tenderly laid the cross of flowers upon the casket that bears the last of earth! What would we not give in latter years to look upon the buds, the blossoms and the wreaths that would recall our moments of happiness of the memory of our griefs in the house of our last parting with the loved ones who have gone before. How grateful to the burdened heart to know that in the church yard afar off there still blooms in perennial loveliness the flowers our hands have hung about the tomb where our hearts lie buried. And what more fitting tribute to the chivalry of a country’s soldiers than the decoration with floral mementoes, their last resting place by the hands of surviving daughters.
If we remember aright the custom of decorating Confederate graves originated three years ago with the noble and patriotic ladies of Columbus, George. They selected the 26th of April as the day for the anniversary, which may do for the climate they have at Columbus, but it is too early for Tennessee, as we know too well by the experience of last year as well as this.
The lady managers of the Memorial Society of Tennessee have appointed Sunday, the 9th of May, at 3 o’clock, for the dedication of the Confederate Cemetery at Mount Olivet, and for the decoration of the graves both at Mount Olivet and the City Cemetery. In future, the 10th of May will be observed for the ceremony.
Order of Exercises. Music by Odd Fellow’s Band. Prayer by Rev. W. J. Ellis.
The following ladies have been appointed to receive flowers and evergreens for decorating the graves of the dead: Mrs. John Kirkman, Mrs. I. C. Nicholson, Mrs. G. W. Fall, Mrs. George Cunningham, Miss Aline McCall, Mrs. T. J. Harding, Mrs. Thomas Marshall, Mrs. Wm. H. Evans, Mrs. F. G. Porter, Mrs. Henry Weber, Mrs. Ed. Hickman, Mrs. Wm. Clare.
Captain Little’s omnibuses will connect with the Cherry Street cars for Mt. Olivet.
Boxes will be placed at the gates of each cemetery for contributions. It is hoped the children will remember this, and bring their offerings.
We are requested to state that the services will be entirely religious and that all are invited to be present and to participate in the solemn occasion.
Mt. Olivet Cemetery. City Cemetery
Today brings as occasion of general sadness to the hearts of our people. It is the fourth anniversary of the Ladies’ Memorial Service since the furling of the “Conquered Banner.”… (For the events planning, refer to Republican Banner, Wednesday, May 5, 1869 which was repeated in this article) … As regards final contributions, they have been large and handsome. However, the Society is in need further donations…
At Mt. Olivet Cemetery that portion of the burial place purchased for the Interment of the Confederate dead, will be dedicated, and the following order of exercises observed, commencing at 3 p.m. precisely: (as reported in the May 5th 1869 article)
The work of interring the outside dead – that is those who were buried without the enclosed cemetery – Mt. Olivet and the City Graveyard, and around Fort Negley, has been done as fast as pecuniary aid was received. Thus far some 290 remains have been removed.
For the accommodation of those anxious to attend we may state that Captain Little’s omnibuses will connect with the Cherry Street cars for Mt. Olivet. (more about arrangements as reported in the May 5th 1869 article).
After the services are concluded at Mt. Olivet, the decoration services at the City Cemetery will be observed, so that persons desirous of witnessing both ceremonies can easily do so.
Sunday last was the time set apart by the Ladies Memorial Association as Commemoration Day. The morning broke bright and beautiful, and an uncloudy sky continued throughout the entire day. The hour appointed for the exercises at Mt. Olivet was fixed at 3 o’clock, but as early as 12 o’clock the streets were crowded with people, who were proceeding in the direction of the lines of the street railroad. Up to one o’clock, the cars running to the City Cemetery were comfortably filled, but after the time, and until nearly 4 o’clock, the rush was beyond description. A large number of extra cars were placed on the track and every five minutes a car passed the postoffice corner densely packed with men, women and children.
Memorial Day Sunday
*Partial Transcript. See complete article for more descriptions of the events.
Mt. Olivet Cemetery
The Confederate Graves
Services at the City Cemetery
The managers of the Memorial Society have appointed May 15, as Memorial Day. The hours for decorating the graves of the noble and brave Confederate soldiers will be from 4 until 7 o’clock p.m. Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The removal of the remains of all the Confederate soldiers from the City Cemetery and suburbs will be completed by that day, except those belonging to private families.
The debt now due for the removal (not including headstones) is about $2,5000, which indebtedness is hoped will be greatly diminished by contributions deposited with the committee at the gate of Mount Olivet on Memorial Day.
Nashville Committee At The Gate
Edgefield Committee At The Gate
Nashville Committee Of Evergreens and Flowers
Edgefield Committee Of Evergreens and Flowers
The committee on flowers are requested to solicit donations of evergreens and flowers, to arrange them into wreaths, bouquets, etc. and send them to the old Academy, care of Mrs. Thomas Marshall (if not convenient send them directly to Mt. Olivet) not later than 10 o’clock on the morning of the 15th. Evergreens can be sent at any time during the week previous to that day.
Mrs. Felicia G. Porter
Floral Decorations at the City Cemetery and Mt. Olivet
At two o’clock Sunday crowds of people from all directions were winding their way to the City Cemetery. They came on foot, in carriages, in wagons, in omnibuses, in the street cars, and in all sorts of vehicles. There were old people and young, gray haired sires and smiling children, and a wide stream of humanity flowed in through the gates and distributed itself about the grounds till all the avenues were thick with people. Many brought flowers and evergreens, wreaths and crosses, to place upon the graves of the departed friends and kindred. By three o’clock the crowds had swelled to thousands, and the tide had turned and was ebbing outward. Comparatively few Confederate dead now remain in the old cemetery, but the graves of those few were decorated with great care. The grave of General James E. Rains was surrounded with wire arches, which were beautifully wound with flowers and evergreens, while a silken scraf with the words, “Their deeds live in memory” was stretched between. The tomb of General Zollicoffer was also rich with floral remembrances, wreaths and crosses. In private lots we saw many graves that showed the ministrations of kind hands. At half-past three the stream had fairly set outward and in the direction of Mt. Olivet. And now were brought into requisition every species of vehicle, hacks, omnibuses, express wagons and furniture cars all appeared insufficient to transport the large number of people. The road between the two cemeteries and the city was one double procession of going and returning vehicles, and above all pervading everywhere, was the dust which rose on all sides in thick masses and shut our the prospect to the half suffocated passengers. But the cemetery when attained was a grateful contrast. Softly the breeze stirred the groves of evergreens and oaks, and maples and gloriously the sunshine from a cloudless sky, dwelt upon the prospect and shimmered over all the monuments of the dead.
The plot of ground devoted to the burial of the fallen heroes of the Confederacy is a gently rising mound, and there are now resting there 1,360 soldiers. The circle was surrounded with festoons of evergreens and in the center were evergreens in wreath work and festoons, forming a sort of arbor, in which was a huge vase of choice flowers, above which was the motto, “Our Dead Heroes.” In the burial of the remains of those reinterred, attention was paid to placing those of different States together, and each groupe was designated by the name upon muslin strips, trimmed with evergreens. We noticed Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, New York and Tennessee were represented among the fallen. The work of transferring those buried at the old cemetery had but just been completed, and time has not been allowed for fitting up the ground in a proper and becoming manner. The graves are many of them very fresh, and the place was yet to be sodded and walks to be constructed. Four little girls from the Confederate Orphan Asylum in Clarksville distributed flowers over the graves, and there was a profusion of offerings. The grave of General Adolphus Heiman was covered with a wire screen, which was ornamented with beautiful wreaths and flowers.
Mt. Olivet is a beautiful spot, and art has added greatly to the natural appearance. Its walks have been tastefully laid out, and lovely evergreens have been planted with care for general effect. The place is capable of being made one of the most attractive and delightful cemeteries in the South or West. The outlook thence over the surrounding country of hills and valleys and cultivated fields, and Nashville in the distance, is very striking.
The committee appointed as Collectors at the gates of Mt. Olivet and the City Cemetery, were promptly at their posts. A division had been made so that a detachment remained on duty half an hour and was relieved by others. The amount collected to liquidate the debt of $2,500, incurred in removing the Confederate dead from the old cemetery to Mount Olivet, was very considerable, and will not fall short of about $1,000.
The crowd commenced to disperse from the grounds of Mount Olivet about 5 o’clock and by 6 only a few stragglers remained. The day closed as it opened, warm and genial, and a cloudless sky.
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