A historian spent years restoring a neglected cemetery off Blacks Ferry Road. In the process, he also restored its legacy.
ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A cemetery in Anderson County sits in the woods near Blacks Ferry Road. For a while, it was neglected and overgrown with plants. Then, in 2012, a local historian decided to step in and clean it up.
Now, the historic cemetery dating back to the Civil War is open to the public.
“I was determined to clean it up and everybody was saying, ‘There’s no way you can,'” said Leo York, cleaned up the cemetery. “Even TVA said there’s no way you can, but I did.”
While cleaning it up, York did some research and on Saturday he invited people to reflect on the history and his findings of the cemetery. They gathered around gravestones that marked graves more than a century old.
“You really have to give him credit for cleaning it up and making it well known,” save Dave Babcock who visited the cemetery.
York said he discovered that the cemetery wasn’t always in its current spot as he researched it. The Tennessee Valley Authority dug it up and moved it as construction was done on the Bull Run Steam Plant. In the process, they created records and did interviews with local residents, York said.
Using records from TVA, he discovered it was the Black Family Cemetery where John Black, an enslaver, and his descendants are buried. He said there are 200 bodies. Some are veterans of The Civil War, and nearly 75 are people who were enslaved. In 1962, the TVA put the bodies back.
York eventually identified a man named Hade Black, who is buried in the cemetery. He found that he was a former slave who had inherited land from his enslavers.
“Now that was a surprise, to find out someone who formerly enslaved a family to include them in their will,” he said.
York hopes people gain an appreciation for local history as a result of his years of work restoring the cemetery and the history surrounding it.
“The more people know about their local history, the more pride they have for their community,” said York.
Credit: Source link