Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grave Site Restoration has Begun!

The DAR and Southeastern Building have really come through, taking a helpful role, spearheaded by cousin Sandra Long (7th generation descendant). Dan Allen, the archeologist, says that the restoration progress depends on weather and other projects he has going. He hopes to have his part completed by January 2015.  Next steps will be a fence and landscaping. The neighborhood association will guide that process.

Link to story in the 'Tennessean' about the day.

My reflections on the clean up
The day was crisp and sunny. The DAR brought a table filled with water, coffee, spiced cider, sausage biscuits and pastries. Someone even brought a 8ft fancy torch gas heater to stand under. Gloves, warm coffee in hand and brush-moving exercise meant I did not used the heater much.

30 people made quick work clearing the brush away from the gravesite. Saws, loppers, chain saws in hand it only took a few hours to clear away 30+ years of overgrowth. The cedar trees, most memorable from the 1980's to mark the grave location, had been twisted by a tornado and most of the top soil around the graves had been pushed around with the subdivision development. Revealed under the brush was a large dirt hump and the rubble pieces of the box grave of James Franklin. All pieces intact, Dan Allen and his son made quick work surveying the pieces, visualizing how the site will reassemble. They think they also found evidence of the destroyed marker of James' wife Mary Lauderdale Franklin.

Thank you to Daniel Parker for some fine chainsaw work. Daniel, his wife Julie (7th generation) and I had several conversations over the years about manhandling the brush. He got his chance to make it so under the watchful guidance of Dan Sumner Allen. (yep decedent of same Sumner)

Mr. Allen is also a master of the divining rod. We watched with wide eyes as the rods moved to show the grave locations. He explained his methodology to the crowd as he IDs two graves. He also explained that as a scientist this is only one of many pieces of evidence he uses to ID grave locations and it should not be used as the only source of evidence. Dan spoke about Christian burial traditions of the early 1800's. Where the wife would be relative to the husband, how the orientation of the plots are relative to the sun. Much religious tradition was purposefully executed. He also used a probe, drove deep in the soil, to "feel" where the plots stop and start. Part of his restoration services will include a full archeological report.

Also present that day was Kenneth Thomson, Sumner Historical Society President, who recounted a documented interview from Carrie Childress Franklin back in the 1930's who said Mary Lauderdale died before her husband James and was buried there, but the marker had been destroyed.

Decedents hauling brush and serving coffee that day : Ernest Franklin, Kenneth Thomson, Doretta Jenkins, Chad Young, Sylvia Young, Seth Long, Tommy Franklin, Sheena Franklin, David Franklin, Terry Martin, Steve Franklin, Sandra Long, Julie Parker, and Lyn Hoyt.   From the Tennessean picture. (If I have missed any acknowledgements, please correct me!)

The Franklin family, DAR and SAR want to thank everyone who has donated to this cause. And thank you to our neighbors in Saundersville Station for keeping a watchful eye. Here is an update graphic on the fundraising. You are a part of preserving Sumner County and Tennessee history and saving James Franklin's grave.

Print Version of the Tennessean article.