Originally published at Hillbilly Savants by John Kerns
Any history buff just has to get a kick out of Knoxville, Tenn. Its past is much like the rest of southern Appalachia: Rich, weird and elusive, which of course makes it all incredibly interesting. Many of the characters that created that history now lie in a hilly, craggy old graveyard that sits just north of downtown called Old Gray Cemetery.
Named after English poet Thomas Gray, who wrote “Elegy in a Church Courtyard,” the gentle slopes of Old Gray lie between what is now an adult bookstore and a cabinet manufacturer. Out of downtown, you take Broadway, a noisy four-lane that guides motorists through the blighted urban holes beneath Interstate 40. Just over a long hill from the highway overpass, the cemetery sits to the left. Pass through the narrow iron and marble gates of Old Gray and the noise and bustle of the city falls away. Old Gray Cemetery is peaceful, beautiful and downright creepy.
Here are a few pictures from today’s excursion up to the cemetery. If you want to see all of them, go here.
The grave of one of the more fascinating characters that lies in Old Gray, William G. Brownlow. A pro-slavery, yet strict Union man, Brownlow was a controversial national figure. His paper, The Knoxville Whig had a huge distribution, due largely to Brownlow’s editorials. After the war, he was elected Tennessee’s first Reconstruction Governor, and then to the U.S. Senate.
Finally, for more information on some of the haints that call Old Gray home, visit here.