I have written you before about the deplorable conditions of the Nashville City Cemetery and particularly the corner of it in which my 5 great- grandmother, Anne Robertson Johnson Cockrill is buried.
I took the attached picture of my grandchildren beside the grave when we were there in July.
I was there again this weekend, when I drove to Nashville from my home in Florida to attend the first Annual meeting of the Nashville City Cemetery Association, which I joined as soon as I received a notice it had been formed.
I am so pleased someone is showing some interest in this besides me!
Every time I am there, it is worse. In July, there was a badly bent ornamental iron fence around these graves, and a poor condition chain link fence that did not quite meet the stone wall along 4th Street, and now the iron fence is bent and twisted worse, and the chain link one is DOWN!
Clearly , there is a problem here.
I understand perfectly that the old tree that shaded the graves and shielded it form the industrial area around it, was old, and had to come out, BUT nothing was planted in its place. ( I know Jacksonville's tree ordinance would have required a replacement tree; don't you HAVE a tree ordinance, and maybe you need one!)
In the past, when I wrote you, my letter was passed on to the parks department, under whom this cemetery's "care" falls... but I never got a response from them, nor from DAR, who have a brass plaque in her honor on Anne's grave.
If she were an ordinary citizen of your city, interred as she is, the condition of her grave and the whole cemetery would be a sad, sad shame.
Her having been one of the members of the Donelson Flotilla, ( as were many of the others buried there) and the first schoolteacher in the state, a heroine for her actions at Wautoga, on the riverboat, and at Ft Nashboro, I am appalled that it has taken all this to get something done about a decent, respectful and honorable gravesite for her!
I gathered at the meeting, that the fences will be repaired and or replaced. That certainly is a basic start! I understand there are plans for evergreen and deciduous trees along the back ( South) line of the cemetery. I think coniferous make a lot more sense, as they will not shed leaves ( by their definition) and need raking up, look messy, etc, AND will serve as a screen from the surrounding " view" all year; whereas a tree that sheds its leaves will be bare for a large port of the year.
I fully understand how the city has grown up around the cemetery, and that you nor I or anyone else has much control over the use of the adjacent properties; although I did suggest someone see about a zoning restriction so that a Taco Bell or roadhouse ( or some other equally inappropriate business) goes in next to it!
I am no on the education committee of the new group, with the idea of getting more schoolchildren interested in this cemetery and their own Tennessee's founding, by way of a scavenger hunt ( as University Christian School here has done, having the children fine a stone with a lamb on it, a stone of a man killed by Indians, etc) vs just a dry tour of the graves and being lectured as to who is there.
Brochures of the City cemetery ought to be distributed as they are for other Nashville landmarks and attractions. Without the people interred there, there would BE no Nashville and NO TENNESSEE!
Now, were these ancestors of mine buried in a private or church-owned cemetery, I could do work on the stone, plant flowers and a tree or two... but in a city-owned property even these : beautification's " ( in my eyes) would be " Vandalism" to the parks department!
I suggest, in fact, that that small triangle in the far corner beside these particular two graves would be a perfect place for a magnolia tree, with ivy planted underneath ( as grass just does not grow under a magnolia!) and a small bench to sit on would be lovely...
You must have thought a lot of her, from Centennial park , which was her land grant, and the marker to her there, installed by the schoolchildren of Tennessee. Can't we make her final restingplace reflect the same respect?
I am, in the meantime, sending a report of the meeting to the Robertsons online with whom I am in contact, soliciting their participation in the Cemetery Assn, as well.
Catherine Fryer Cline