Editor’s note: This is part 3 of a series on area cemeteries
By DAN WHITTLE/Courier Correspondent
The pristine "Cherry Cemetery" is tucked away in the southern-most farming region of Cannon County.
Now meet lifelong Cannon County resident Mitzi Tenpenny Brandon, Cherry Cemetery's dedi-cated volunteer researcher and history preservationist.
She has focused on Cherry Cemetery, located in the Woodland community, and it's founding dating back across parts of three centuries.
Her devotion to loved ones helped trigger her extensive research.
"My grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Woodrow Shelton) instilled in me the value of family and the importance of taking care of loved ones," Mitzi shared. "This extends to the final resting places of those loved ones as well."
Cherry Cemetery is her grandparents' final resting place.
"In 1998, I needed a project for my MTSU history class, and doing a history of the Cherry Cemetery and its upkeep seemed like a good way to memorialize this beautiful cemetery. I enjoyed the initial work on the project in 1998, and it has been a pleasure to update the work this year."
She couldn't do the work alone, however.
"Special thanks to Brittany Brandon, Melanie Henderson, Melissa Fulghum and Matt Elmore for their assistance in the initial gathering of names," Mitzi credits. "I could not have finished this project without their help."
More assistance was welcomed: "Peggy Miller, Jean Young, Lori Hughes, and James and Marie Prater provided valuable help with updating the tombstone records. Also, thanks to Peggy (Miller) for assisting with proofreading and ensuring accuracy of the records."
The "origin" of Cherry Cemetery is remarkable, because for decades cemetery visitors had walked by an ignoble-appearing "pile of rocks" that covered a grave, which turned out to be the root of the cemetery's origin.
"I had never paid any attention to those rocks and was surprised to learn they marked a grave," Mitzi shared.
Cherry Cemetery is named for a baby who died in 1856.
"I found a marker for Jasper E. Cherry alongside that pile of rocks. The inscription reads: 'Sacred to the memory of Jasper E. Cherry, born April the 3 1853,'" Mitzi confirmed.
The marker verifies the child died Oct. 22, 1856.
"Assuming that the Cherry family owned the property at the time of Jasper's death, and using 1856 as a reference point, I attempted to trace the Cherry family's roots in Cannon County," Mitzi noted.
This was no easy task.
"Starting with the 1850 census of Cannon County, I found three Cherry listings," Mitzi recorded.
Due to ages discovered in that research, Mitzi deducted the likely parents of infant Jasper to be Irvin Cherry, 32, and Serena Cherry, 33.
But the trail ended there.
"I feel like Irvin and Serena could have been Jasper's parents," Mitzi reports. "Another interesting note is that little Jasper's marker with the name 'Cherry' is the only one that I can find at Cherry Cemetery."
Her research indicates Jasper Cherry's burial was followed one year later, June 1857, with the interment of John Rains.
"Based on information from headstones, after the Rains' burial, a 15-year span lapsed before anyone else was buried in the cemetery," Mitzi's research reflects.
Cherry Cemetery also hosts the remains of Hester Parker Young and husband Houston Young, another historic Woodland area family.
Like father, like son.
"My father, Houston, is buried here. He was a barber. I'm also a barber," noted Millard Young, who has served as president of Cherry Cemetery's Trust Fund since its inception in 1982. "Great Grandfather Fate Young, along with my parents, Houston and Hester Young, plus a sister, are all buried here.
"I would estimate Cherry Cemetery to be the largest rural cemetery in these parts," noted barber Millard who interrupted a "clip job" on the head of customer James Hill to share information for this forum.
"In Cherry Cemetery, we have graves presently covering approximately 8 acres, but we have ample room to grow for more graves with another three acres available," the Cherry Cemetery board president itemized. "Those three acres extend to the woods, and a beautiful spring, giving us 11- to 12-acres total."
He complimented Mitzi Tenpenny Brandon for "her tireless efforts and dedication" in recording the remarkable history and evolution of Cherry Cemetery.
"What Mitzi has done and continues to do is very commendable, and vitally important out of respect for our loved ones who rest in beautiful Cherry Cemetery," Young credited.
To find Cherry Cemetery on Cove Hollow Road, take Highway 53 South out of Woodbury toward Manchester, turn right on Hollow Springs Road until reaching Cove Hill Road.