Last week, I shared a little of Monterey’s history and showed some of Whittaker Cemetery’s fascinating “tent” or “comb” graves. They are definitely different!
One of the reasons I chose Whittaker Cemetery to visit has to do with a historic connection. Does the last name Mudd ring a bell? If you’re a Civil War history buff, it probably went off loud and clear. Dr. Samuel Mudd treated the injured leg of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth after he fled Ford’s Theater.
The extent of Dr. Mudd’s role as a conspirator has never been completely clear. Some think he barely knew him while others feel they were quite close. However, when Booth arrived at Dr. Mudd’s Virginia home with a broken fibula, the doctor didn’t alert authorities right away. His later interviews concerning Booth were also riddled with inconsistencies. His name literally was “mud” in the eyes of many.
Dr. Mudd went on trial for his role in the assassination plot in 1865. He was convicted and escaped the death penalty by only one vote, given a sentence of life in prison. This was commuted in 1869 by President Andrew Johnson, after which Dr. Mudd returned home to Maryland. He resumed his medical practice and slowly brought the family farm back to productivity. He died in 1883 at the age of 49.
One of Dr. Mudd’s cousins was actually a resident of Monterey for the last six years of his life. A native of Baltimore, George Whitefield Mudd was only 16 when President Lincoln was assassinated. I’m sure that his cousin’s actions had an impact on his life and reputation. From the 1880 Census until his death, George moved from West Virginia to Missouri to South Carolina to finally Monterey.
George Mudd was a master mechanic for the railroad and Monterey was a repair station for trains belonging to the Tennessee Central. He and his wife, Ida Zoe Walters Mudd, had three sons. They lived a quiet life. He died in 1928 and his wish was to be buried back in Maryland. His sons, however, chose to make his final resting place in Whitaker Cemetery.
Interestingly enough, I learned that when two men from the funeral home went to Whittaker Cemetery to dig a hole for George Mudd’s grave, there was a casket already in that spot! Apparently, they buried George there anyway and the identify of the person George was placed on top of was never learned.
From reading my blog, you know I post a lot of pictures of grand monuments. They are always exciting to see. But there’s also a special place in my heart for the humbler markers made by hand. The ones not carved by a master stonemason but the markers made by someone very close to the deceased.
These homemade concrete markers for Maude and Issac Riddle, studded with colorful stones, are two of my favorites. My great-great-grandmother Louisa Claar’s marker is also a simple concrete marker with her name scratched on it by hand.
Here’s another homemade grave marker, etched by hand. It looks like there’s a cross and some wheat sheaves or corn stalks across the top.
I share this marker for Tommy Hedgecouch because it’s a modern example of an incredibly old tradition that’s been around for centuries. Graves were often marked in the past with wooden markers or crosses. When you don’t have much money, you use what you have. Unfortunately, such markers are very susceptible to the elements and don’t last very long. Few make it beyond a decade or two.
There were some small, very plain markers in the back of the cemetery. The grave of Foster Wallace (1924-1938) is hand carved and plain. The cross on it told me someone still cared.
Also among the shadows was this homemade marker for Venie Buckner.
I found a fieldstone with the last name of Bohannon scratched on it, no dates that I could find. There are 34 Bohannons at Whittaker Cemetery. I’m sure they know who it is and still visit often since silk flowers (in great condition) are beside it.
If you look closely, you can see someone has written something on it.
I was intrigued by these three homemade brick monuments, each with a little alcove to place objects. Only a simple stone with the name “Forster’ indicates who they might be.
I’m also intrigued by what people like to leave on graves to show their affection for a loved one. This one below was under a tree and I normally might have walked right on past it. But something nudged me to duck under the branches and have a look.
This child’s grave also has a memento draped upon it.
This child’s grave had a mother owl and her baby beside it.
In front of the grave was this little battered angel.
I hope you’ve enjoyed wandering through Whittaker Cemetery with me. It’s a peaceful place amid the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau, a perfect haven amid life’s chaos. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and get a look at the tend graves.