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New life for old cemetery

Cleaning, facelift in future plans

By DAVID MELSON - dmelson@t-g.com
Posted 1/14/23

A historic, partially abandoned cemetery near Bell Buckle may be receiving new life soon.

Church Cross Cemetery, on the grounds of the long-closed Cross Roads Church of Christ at the intersection …

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New life for old cemetery

Cleaning, facelift in future plans

Posted
A historic, partially abandoned cemetery near Bell Buckle may be receiving new life soon.
Church Cross Cemetery, on the grounds of the long-closed Cross Roads Church of Christ at the intersection of Church Cross Road and Coop Road west of Bell Buckle, today lies in partial abandonment, with tombstones largely dating to the 1800s surrounded by overgrown grass and brush in many areas.
The remains of many pioneer residents of northeastern Bedford County rest on the grounds
Brooke Smith-Sanders, whose farm is near the cemetery, is spearheading an effort to cut grass, remove brush, and generally renew the cemetery.
“We hope to restore this historic site and give it the dignity it deserves and desperately needs.,” Smith said. “This is a treasured site for our area and entire county.
Parts of the cemetery, including the portion where her father Jimmy Smith was buried in 2020, are well-kept. Older portions, especially where descendants likely left Bedford County many years ago, are in disrepair. Tombstones, only some which are legible, are leaning and/or broken.
One portion contains no tombstones, but Smith-Sanders and Eric Maddox, who is working with her on the project, say they think people are buried in that area.
“These are people buried here. They deserve more respect,” said Maddox, a District 1 member of the Bedford County Commission, who also lives nearby.
Deputy Jared Featherstone of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, a member of a longtime Bell Buckle-area family, is also working with Smith-Sanders and Maddox.
Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation is also working on the project.
A work day will be scheduled in the near future to clean the cemetery, Smith-Sanders said.

Smith-Sanders can be contacted at b.smith.0972@gmail.com or 931-703-9532. See the church and cemetery’s Facebook page at “Cross Roads Church of Christ and Cemetery.”

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  • BILLY REYNOLDS

    This church has been taken care of by the Bingham/Artleys since the 1960's. It was NEVER abandoned. No one was given permission to enter this private cemetery and touch and walk across the graves of our ancestors. This has been know as the CROSS ROADS CEMETERY AND CHURCH since the 1830s. David Melson has reported on this property many times yet did not talk to the Artleys who know whom is buried here, and know that the area "they think might contain graves". actually conatins graves. Maybe talk to them?

    Many of us have generations buried in this cemetery and do not want weed whackers and golf carts on the property across the graves of our ancestors.

    Monday, January 23 Report this

  • Brooke Smith Sanders

    Hi there Billy. I think there is some confusion here this article is about the cemetery and the cemetery alone. The building is being returned to the heirs and the cemetery is going back to the families that have loved ones buried there. The cemetery is public, it always has been, its listed in the original deed that way. I have spoken with the ones you are talking about many times over the years and have had a great relationship with them until recently. They have cared for the cemetery in the past, but unfortunately it needs more now. We have tried to work with them and they choose not too. They are the ones that said there were many unmarked graves there, but didn't know locations or names. I have talked with lots of other people that have families buried there and they are working on helping identify these unmarked graves. The cemetery belongs to all the families with ancestors buried there, me included, my father was buried there in 2020 and we set up our family plots at that time. I can't stress this enough, no "weed whackers" will be there and certainly no "golf carts". We would never dream of disrespecting it in that way. It holds great value to the families, and also to the community for its history. Please reach out and we can talk more. I would love your input about your ancestors and would be glad to show you the plan to care for it. Unfortunately there have been instances between several other families and the self appointed over seers that have created an environment that isn't healthy. Our only goal here is to pick up sticks, dead trees, and trash so we can give this wonderful place the respect it deserves.

    Tuesday, January 24 Report this