10,000 Records

Project of the Nashville City Cemetery Association



Recording of Tombstone Inscriptions
Major recordings of the Cemetery City tombstone inscriptions were conducted in 1908 and again in the 1960’s. During 2005-2006, 135 Volunteers participated in a NCCA project to once again record inscriptions. Every tombstone had been assigned an identification number. Volunteers inspected every tombstone. The final count was 1,950 tombstones and 15 historical markers surveyed during this project.  On a survey form, a volunteer wrote down the inscription, line by line, exactly as it was inscribed on the tombstone. Another 1,000 tombstones did not have legible inscriptions because the names and dates had been worn away or cracked off or were covered with lichen. 

Resource Maps

 CLICK HERE to learn about the 1908 Plat Map with sections and lots and the 2005 Map with identification numbers.

Research Resources listed in Documentation
1908 Plat Map – CLICK HERE
“Old City Cemetery, Nashville, Tenn.”
Section Plat Maps with Lots and individual names on Lots.
Smith* & Drake, Engineers. Published October 9, 1908. 


*Felix Randolph Robertson Smith

Felix Randolph Robertson Smith, Engineer, under the direction of Major Eugene C. Lewis, was responsible for important surveys of the Nashville City Cemetery in 1908. This survey work resulted in the Plats of the Sections & Lots (1908), the recording of the Inscriptions on Tombstones (1908) with a Supplement (1911) and the publication of the Alphabetical List of the Dead (1909).  Mr. Smith’s work provided the earliest documentary evidence of the Sections, Lots and Tombstones and Inscriptions at Nashville City Cemetery.

Biographical Information

Felix Randolph Robertson Smith, son of Elizabeth Anderson Robertson Smith and Thomas Smith, was born March 16, 1838.  Felix was the grandson of Lydia Waters and Dr. Felix Robertson, and the great grandson of founders of Nashville, Charlotte Reeves and James Robertson.  Mr. Smith died on February 12, 1920, and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.

Smith 1908
CLICK HEREfor the Alphabetical List of the Dead from 1909.
CLICK HERE for the list of Inscriptions corresponding with the 1908 Plat Maps.  Published in Tennessee Records: Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts, compiled by Jeannette Tillotson Acklen, published Nashville, 1933. 

Supplement 1911 Listing
CLICK HERE for the list of Inscriptions corresponding with the 1911 Supplement.
Published in Acklen, Tennessee Records, 1933.

Garrett – Jill K. Garrett and Iris H. McClain

They worked on recording the cemetery inscriptions between 1954 & 1970. CLICK HERE to access the listings.  This limited edition, entitled Old City Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions, was typed in 1971.


A useful resource for graveyard symbolism can be accessed online by CLICKING HERE.

Some Matters of Importance

  • Epitaphs were seldom recorded in the earlier surveys. Epitaphs are very difficult to read because they were written in cursive style. Wherever possible, in the 2005-2006 project epitaphs were recorded by the volunteers.
  • Interment Date is date of burial at the City Cemetery, not the date of death. Burials usually took place within a few days of death, but in some cases there was delay because the person had died out of town.
  • Death Date on the tombstone might be in error because of a stone carver’s mistake or because the tombstone was placed on the lot many years after the person’s death and the exact date of death had been forgotten.


Death date finding aids

  • For Death Records in Davidson County and in Tennessee Google Tennessee State Library & Archives Research and Collections. Then enter: Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908-1912 – Or – Davidson County Death Records 1900-1913.


    Report: 3-8-2015

  • Age of the Person at Death often inscribed on an individual’s tombstone, in the 19th century, was the age the person would have reached in the year of his death, such as “In the 57th Year of His Age”.
  • Difference in Spellings often exist between the names inscribed on the tombstones and the names written in the Interment records. These differences are due to the stone carver or to the City Cemetery Sexton who wrote the names in the Interment Books. Sometimes the spellings of family names differ on the tombstones in the same family lot.
  • Tombstones fallen face down, broken or below ground or illegible because of lichen. In the future, it may be possible to read some of these tombstone inscriptions when they are re-set, conserved or repaired. Additional inscription data will be added to this web site when available.  At the conclusion of the restoration in 2009, Sections and Lots will be re-visited. 


Research helped to fill-in the missing portions of inscriptions

Additional information has been typed in bold in the Inscription write-up, for example:

(Inscription worn away except letters “Wet”)

Lewis Wetzel
Born March 31, 1804
Died April 14, 1848


By using the 1908 Plat, the Section and Lot were located and a tombstone on that Lot was named “Lewis Wetzel Died 1848” The Interment index listed his burial as April 16, 1848. Smith 1908 listed the entire inscription. All these together made it possible to complete the original inscription as shown above.


Descendants are Invited to email historical information, including copies of obituaries to or send mail our office at P.O. Box 150733
Nashville, TN 37215.

Fletch Coke 2013
Nashville City Cemetery Association
Coordinator Tombstone Inscription Project