Swannanoa Valley Cemeteries Tour
from press release
[also see other stories: tour of historic Old Toxaway Baptist Church Upper Cemetery; slide show tour of Old Broad River Cemetery and story about it; tour of Mt. Moriah Calvert Baptist Church Cemetery; and book about Decoration Day history]
On Saturday, May 25, 2013, in honor of Memorial Day weekend, the Swannanoa Valley Museum will hold a three-hour tour of some of the oldest cemeteries in the valley, beginning 10 a.m.
Local experts Robert Goodson and Bill Alexander will take participants through the Piney Grove, Tabernacle, and Ingram cemeteries while sharing the history of these sacred places as well as the lives of the people buried within them.
Piney Grove Cemetery, associated with the First Presbyterian Church of Swannanoa, dates back to 1794. Veterans from almost every U.S. conflict are buried within the cemetery as are many of Alexander’s relatives.
Alexander said, “The earliest gravestone in the cemetery belongs to my ancestor James Alexander, though he is buried on top of his wife. He was first buried in the valley’s earliest cemetery, Patton Cemetery, behind what is now W.D. William’s Elementary School.”
But after the congregation of Patton’s Meeting House moved to their present location at Piney Grove, they moved his body and buried him in the same grave as his wife.” Participants will hear many more of Alexander’s stories about those laid to rest in the cemetery throughout the tour.
Robert Goodson will lead the tour through both the Ingram and Tabernacle cemeteries. According to Goodson, “the Ingram cemetery was set aside for the family by Bobbie Ingram and his wife, Jennie Martin Ingram around 1820.”
The Tabernacle Cemetery, associated with Tabernacle United Methodist Church, was founded as early as 1837. One exceptional story as once told by Black Mountain resident, Cora Stepp Dula is that in 1889, when she was eight years old, she heard about a black servant who passed away on the North Fork of the Swannanoa. After he was buried in Tabernacle Cemetery someone planted a hemlock seedling at the head of the grave rather than place a headstone.
The hemlock grew until it was struck by lightning in 1970. A cross section of the great tree, with 105 growth rings, is displayed in the church. Part of the tree’s stump still stands beside a granite marker that shows the original location of the first Tabernacle Meeting House.
The tour will meet at 10:00am at the Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 West State Street in Black Mountain. Cost is $20 for museum members or $30 for nonmembers. (Veterans are free with a paying counterpart.) To register contact the museum at 828-669-9566 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found on the museum's website www.swannanoavalleymuseum.org.