DAVIDSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) —Tucked away near trees and under grass are the lives of people who contributed to Tennessee’s history.
“We’ve been doing a lot of the boots-on-the-ground survey work… actually going out to these rural areas,” said Caroline Eller.
For the last two months, Eller has journeyed across Davidson County looking for cemeteries.
“We know about 600 cemeteries exist, give or take, but there’s hundreds of others that have not been documented or that hopefully will be documented during the course of this study,” she said.
For over 20 years, volunteers have been surveying and recording information about the hundreds of cemeteries in Davidson County.
“We have that data set that we’ve been working from for several years, and knew that we needed to find out more information and update the documentation that we had,” said Eller.
So, the commission applied and was awarded over $35,000 in grant money last year.
The project is being supported in part by the Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior and the Tennessee Historical Commission.
The commission began surveying sites in June, and so far, Eller says they’ve visited 150 cemeteries.
“They’re very dynamic pieces of our history,” said Eller. “They capture the history of families, of community members, of churches.”
The test of time or vandals have impacted headstones and other markers Eller has come to see, but her hope is their research will span more preservation efforts as the project continues on.
“We’re going kind of broad with the project in the hopes that that will be used to have more targeted efforts where we can get additional grant funding or volunteer work or even friends groups to form and take care of individual sites,” she said.
Eller’s work is far from done, but she’s hopeful what they are doing will encourage others to protect the history we often times forget.
“We definitely hope that other counties can use this as a template for their area and help their communities do a similar effort,” she said.
Eller says the historical commission recently held a meeting in Cane Ridge to share more about their efforts.
She says they’ve also sent out letters to property owners who might be interested in providing information about cemeteries in the area.
If you have or know of a cemetery that should be included in the database you can reach out to Eller via email at email@example.com or call her at 615-862-7970.