Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Swain County's World War 1 Dead - A Request

Cross at the grave of Private Fred Mathis
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial
Lorraine, France
Photo Credit: soilsister at Findagrave.com

Dear Readers:
The 100th anniversary of Swain County's active involvement in World War 1 overseas is upon us. Of the 22 Swain County soldiers who died during the "Great War", 14 died between September and November 1918. I think it's important to honor the enormous sacrifice made by these young men and I'd like to put together a couple of blog pieces (for fall publication) about them.

While I have most of the basic information on each of these soldiers (where they were from, date of birth, date and place of death, and cemetery), I do not have much additional information on the majority of them. That's where you and/or people you know come in. I would love to have pictures, letters, personal anecdotes, or any other additional information I can get that would bring them to life on this blog.

The names of Swain County's WW1 dead are as follows:

Barker, William Harvey
Bates, Everett
Cathey, Charles Clyde
Cochran, John Thomas
Franklin, Walter Isaac
Freeman, Caro (There is a good amount of information on Caro on his findagrave.com page as well as in the Swain County Heritage book, but I'd love more.)
Kalonaheskie, Joe
Kincaid, James William
Leatherwood, James L
Mashburn, Earnest Loyd
Mason, William
Mathis, Fred
Moore, Grady C
Queen, James Robert
Shuler, Finley
Shuler, William
Stephenson, William Berry
Styles, Andy
Turner, Floyd C
Wiggins, John W
Winchester, Benjamin Harrison
Youngdeer, Steve

If you or a family member/acquaintance are in possession of any material you'd like to see used to honor these brave soldiers, please get in touch with me in either the comments section (please include your email address), via email at oldeswain@gmail.com, or via the Facebook page. You will be credited as the source of the material when the blog is published.

Thank you for your consideration!


Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Lambs of the Tabor Cemetery

Today I was enjoying my last day of vacation and chose to take a drive out to an area of the county I don't get out to nearly as frequently as I should - the Highway 28 corridor going from Lauada to Franklin. I had no particular destination in mind but while on Brush Creek, I noted a tiny sign for the Tabor Cemetery on the left and decided to follow it. Upon topping out on a hill above the creek, I found one of the most beautiful and well-tended cemeteries I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. 

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

I love looking at old tombstones - not only because of the curiosity I have about the lives of the people they commemorate, but also for the artistry of the stones themselves. Whilst wandering through the stones at this cemetery, I noted something 'different' here amongst the ones marking the graves of children. In older cemeteries, lambs are often seen on the headstones of children - most of the cemeteries in Swain County have them. However, the Tabor Cemetery has a very interesting array of lamb stones - at least 7 different types - such that I felt them to be worthy of their own blog article. Some of these are below.

I would encourage all who are interested to visit this peaceful cemetery and view the beautiful stones that, while unique, are a bittersweet reminder of the very tenuous existence of children in days not so long past in these mountains.

Frank West was born on September 10, 1905, died on October 5, 1905 of unknown causes. He was the son of Henry and Minnie (nee' Marr) West. His parents are buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Macon County.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

Everett Bates Jr., was born on February 27, 1919, and died on January 1, 1921 of meningitis. He was the son of Everett Robert and Lillie (nee' Marr) Bates. Everett Sr. was shipped to the World War 1 front in 1918, leaving behind Lillie, who was pregnant. He died in combat in France in November of that year before his son was even born. His remains appear to have been repatriated, and are interred near those of Everett Jr.. Lillie was remarried (to Floyd Cunningham) in March 1921 and is buried in Swain Memorial Park.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

Troy Tabor was born on October 3, 1928, and died on December 22, 1928 of unknown causes. His parents are unknown (no death certificate was filed), however, he may have been the son of the Reverend John and Amanda (nee' Cookston) Tabor, who he is buried next to.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

John H. Watkins was born and died on March 17, 1929 of unknown causes.  He was the son of Emlis Floyd and Delsia Angeline (nee' Anderson) Watkins. His parents are buried in the Derreberry Cemetery in Cherokee County.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

Kathleen Tabor was born on October 9, 1942 and died on January 13, 1946 of diphtheria.  (Note: her death certificate states that she was born in 1941). She was the daughter of Verlin and Louise (nee' Welch) Tabor, who are buried next to her.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

Melvon Ray Burnette was born on January 11, 1945, and died on February 6, 1945 of pneumonia. He was the son of Don Melvin and Jessie (nee' Howard) Burnette, who are buried next to him. (Note: His tombstone may contain a misspelling, as Macon County birth records spell his name as 'Melvin'.)

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers

Robert Zane Nelson was born and died April 12th, 1962 of unknown causes. He was the son of John E. and Wanda (nee' Tabor) Nelson, who are buried in the cemetery with him.

Photo credit: Wendy Meyers


Note to the reader: to reach the Tabor Cemetery, take US 19-74 west from Bryson City and turn left on NC 28 South at the old 'King's Grocery' (Texaco gas station). Drive approximately 5.5 miles and take a left on Brush Creek Road. Approximately 1 mile up the road, it will split, with Marr Creek going straight ahead and Brush Creek going off to the right - stay on Brush Creek. In about 0.3 miles, you'll see a sign for Dan Springs Baptist Church on the right. About 0.1 miles past that, you'll see a low sign for the Tabor Cemetery on the left. Take the left and follow the gravel road about 0.1 mile to the cemetery at the top of a hill.

As always, please reach out with any corrections you might have or other information/pictures you feel could add substance to this article.


Burnette family members (information on Melvon Burnette cause of death)
Ed Ammons (information on Robert Zane Nelson's parents)
Kathy and Ryan Bennett (information on Robert Zane Nelson's parents)