History students helping restore forgotten cemetery

9:08 am | October 23, 2012

COOKEVILLE (AP) — U.S. history students from Tennessee Tech and Nashville State Community College are restoring a Cookeville cemetery that was nearly forgotten, and they are seeking information on those who were buried there.

The Cookeville Buck Cemetery was set apart for African-Americans at a time when they were not allowed to be buried with white residents.

Many of the graves do not have markers, but burial records show there are a Spanish-American War veteran and veterans of World War II and the Korean War buried there.

Carolyn Powell is a teacher who is coordinating the volunteer efforts.

She told the Cookeville Herald Citizen that the project contributes to students’ knowledge of history. It also gives them hands-on experience and allows them to apply some of what they are learning.

“It’s experiential history,” she said.

The graveyard had become overgrown with grass, brambles and saplings, and many of the tombstones and graves had sunk.

Powell said the students have to clean the sandstone markers in a special way so as not to damage them. Then they have to reset the stones so that the rain and elements do not erode the writing.

The Putnam County Archives is seeking photographs and information on anyone who was buried in the cemetery. They are also collecting donations to mark some of the graves.

County Executive Kim Blaylock visited the site last week to see the students’ progress.

“It’s sad to think there’s a cemetery here in the middle of the city of Cookeville and nobody even knew it was here,” she said.

Elizabethton Star back open navigation

Switch to our desktop site