MY WORD: Tour tells tales of the dead

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By Duanne B. Puckett

The local newspaper has published wedding announcements longer than all of us have been alive. In my days with the newspaper from 1971-1998, I can remember publishing details about the bride’s gown and flowers, the musical selections, and even a list of all the parties or showers that were held in honor of the happy couple.

However, an announcement from 1867 would have raised a few eyebrows: “...The bride, who our readers all know, is not mere ‘skin and bones’…”

Who was the bride? Who wrote the article?

Join Mike Harrod and me on Tuesday, Oct. 8 as Friends of Grove Hill hosts its annual fall walking tour along with wine and cheese at the Grove Hill Cemetery. You can meet us at the chapel at 5:30 p.m. by using the Old Mount Eden Road entrance. A donation of $10 is requested from each person so we can continue our restoration efforts.

Proceeds from tours and private donations as memorials and honorariums have allowed Friends of Grove Hill to make major repairs to some of the older stones near the chapel. Some urns were broken. Monuments were cracked in half and stacked on the ground. Gaping holes existed in some seams of the larger memorials. They have all been put back together like Humpty Dumpty.

Other stones were covered in moss or had turned black from years of exposure to the weather. A little elbow effort with a biodegradable solution and soft brush has removed the coatings and revealed long-lost names and information. For example, I cleaned a 4-foot obelisk of Elizabeth, wife of J.E. Wood of Louisiana, departed this life Dec. 5, 1856. The date alone was significant since the cemetery only opened two years prior.

The rest of the story came, however, when I reached lower to the ground and cleaned the block on which the obelisk sat. In eloquent verse is inscribed: “While superintending with self-sacrificing kindness the education of her nieces at the Shelbyville Female College. Tho she died away from home, she had won by her courteous and consistent conduct the confidence of all her knew her.”

If Friends of Grove Hill had not come to life four years ago, the story of Elizabeth Wood would not have come to life either.

The same goes for the various individuals that Mike and I have researched for the Oct. 8 walking tour: a college president, a minister who died from cholera, a silversmith, a victim of a train wreck and even the bride and newspaper author I mentioned in the beginning of this column.

In other words, dead men and women can tell tales – because of Friends of Grove Hill.


Duanne B. Puckett is retired and lives in Shelbyville.