On 4 October, 2008, I had the opportunity to visit the cemetery where several members of my family have said that Robert Stanton Carter is buried. The cemetery is located in Jackson County, Tennessee near a border with Putnam County and is known as the Whitefield or Whitfield cemetery.
The cemetery is located on a farm that adjoins a farm owned by my cousin, Joe Neal. Joe is the son of Bertie Carter Neal, sister to my mother, Martha Carter Harris. Joe and his wife have lived in this area all their lives and his wife went to a school that was near the cemetery. Joe’s mother told him that Robert Stanton Carter was buried in this cemetery and that the grave “had a little fence around it.”
Joe is experienced in leading these groups. He showed the cemetery to Larry Mabry when he was writing Jackson County Cemetery Inscriptions – 1801-2003.
Our visit to the cemetery started at Magdaline Carter Montgomery’s house, another of the Carter sisters, all children of Henry Carter and Alsie Ragland Carter. Robert Stanton Carter was their grandfather. Magdaline was going to take us to Joe’s house. Magdaline lives in Granville, Tennessee on Highway 53 which we took to Martin’s Creek. Martin’s Creek follows the creek of the same name out of Granville to the North. It twists and turns like it’s namesake until you come to Eschon Road. A left on Eschon and we were soon at Joe’s home.
Joe and his children had been stripping tobacco all day and he had just gotten back from one of several barns where he has tobacco. Sometimes I may not see Joe for years at a time but I had seen him in June at my mother’s funeral. It was good to seem him again.
The road to the cemetery fell into disuse years ago and therefore, getting to the cemetery involved crossing Joe’s farm and then going onto the adjoining farm and hiking through woods. We piled into a farm truck and went over farm roads, through pastures of goats being cared for by a very attentive Great Pyrenees and onto the adjoining farm. We stopped at a barn that belonged to the farm’s owner but Joe was using to hang tobacco.
We left the truck and started hiking through the woods. Joe told us that where we were walking had once been a road and I could see evidence of that. Parts of the road were fairly well covered with small rocks and the edges of the road bed were somewhat marked by mounds that were created when the road was built or when the adjoining land was plowed and the furrows were turned to the edge of the road. But now the road was grown up in little saplings and branches from larger trees hung down and were brushed out of the way as we walked through the canopy.
I’m guessing that we walked about a quarter of a mile from the barn when we came to the cemetery. I was expecting only a handful of graves but based on existing stones and the bounds of the cemetery pointed out by Joe, I would estimate that there were approximately seventy-five (75) graves.
The cemetery was laid out in rows and there were a number of headstones. The headstones were not the shaped granite or marble seen newer cemeteries but stones that were taken from nearby fields and crafted with the resources available in the late 1800’s. Only one stone had readable markings: “Mary Davis” and the date “1906”. The marking on Mary’s tombstone was not deep and appeared to have been handwritten; the letters were not uniform. Joe said that at one time there was another stone with markings but that someone had stolen it.
There was no evidence of a “little fence” nor was there anything else to identify any of the other graves. The entrance to cemetery was there. It left the abandoned road and went up a little slope to the cemetery—just big enough for a horse-drawn wagon to carry the deceased.