Cannon County Headhunting
CannonWire staff (Kim Davenport)
Cannon County, Tennessee's online Newspaper
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
No, these are not bail bondsmen, nor are they looking for scalps.
Just Cannon County headstones.
When looking around the internet to see if there’s anything new around Cannon County on a Google search, the United States Cemetery project came to light because there is a whole section dedicated to Cannon County cemeteries.
Of course, that in itself is not unusual, but having pictures to go along with the words is.
It seems that some people with Cannon County roots have undertaken the huge project of documenting and recording via digital camera and good old hiking through both new and old cemeteries to get their prizes.
Kim Hendrix, born in Kansas, ended up in Illinois and now living in Southeast Missouri, along with Peggy Smith, started out as county coordinators for the Oklahoma Cemeteries, armed with a film camera which, of course, was time consuming and expensive. In 2005, Kim and her family took a trip a trip to Virginia and on their way was looking for ancestral grave sites. On the stops, she was photographing as many stones as she could in the time that her husband gave her at each cemetery. She averaged 15 minutes per cemetery. She then decided to put all of them online. In the meantime, her husband decided to get her a different camera for Christmas which really helped.
Then enters Peggy Smith to help with the overwhelming project that first started with developing lots of rolls of film and scanning each photo for the website. The first states undertaken were Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee. In 2008, they started the World Cemeteries Project.
Hendrix knows how hard it is for many people to travel across country to visit their ancestral headstones, as well as how much the stones are being weathered, vandalized, stolen, disgraced by people letting cattle or other animals graze on these graves, developers removing cemeteries or just plainly building roads or buildings over these cemeteries, with the headstones even being removed and piled up.
She states that through time many stones are harder and harder to read so it is that much more important to preserve these stones so the present and future generations can see at least what these stones looked like at one point in time. She stated that many people have started replacing the old stones with new ones and that it’s sad as so many haven't even gotten a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to an ancestral cemetery to see what an ancestor's stone looks like.
Hendrix recommends to leave the old stones in its orginal location and place the new stone close to or next to the old stone. Totally removing the old stones that the loved ones chose for that particular person buried in those graves and placing new ones in its place may not be the thing to do. She welcomes any old photos of the old stones that are no longer there.
Then enters Bobby Lykins, the County Coordinator, who lives here in Cannon County. He stated he’s a transplant, but his wife, who was a Bailey, is a Cannon Countian and was raised on Hare Lane. They presently live on a small farm on Hill Creek.
He stated he is a part of some hard-core genealogists that like to give back to their community and has been involved with genealogy for some 25 years. He also credits some “cuzins” for their help.
Bobby states, “It’s a great way for folks who live in other states or even other parts of our state, or maybe be just not able to get out physically to see the cemetery and the actual headstones of some family member. Now they can simply click and see a part of their family and never leave the house.”
He downplays his efforts by saying it’s one of his favorite past times and that he just walks the cemeteries, clicks a few photos and puts them online, but we all know there’s a lot of time involved to it. He gets every angle of the plot, as far as the headstone, any photos, special inscriptions, military add-ons, etc. He is also getting pictures of historical markers and anything related to the county.
Kim stated, “Without our wonderful Volunteer Photographers and County Coordinators The United States Cemetery Project would not be where it's at today.”
Thanks to Kim Hendrix, Co-Owner United States Cemeteries Project, and Bobby Lykins, for their huge work on a project that will not only help people now, but for years to come.
Here’s the link to Cannon County’s page: