Volunteers clean 210-year-old cemetery

Friends of Old Fountain Head Cemetery held a successful clean-up day at the cemetery on May 18 with 20 people volunteering. 


This was the first organized cleaning day the FoOFHC has had. They plan to have one next year at the same time. The cemetery was established in 1809 and has been identified as one of the oldest in Tennessee. 


Becky Jennings said, “We were just thrilled with the turnout and everyone’s participation and how willing they were to help and how hard they worked. We couldn’t have had a better crew or a better day.”


The FoOFHC were joined by Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 2177 of Portland. The group is known for volunteering to clean old cemeteries that have the graves of confederate and union soldiers. They work on identifying graves of those who fought in the Civil War on both sides and put flags on these graves. 


They are also involved in other projects in the community such as providing food baskets at Christmas. There are eight Confederate soldiers and one Union soldier buried at OFHC. Flags were put on each grave by the group. 


SCVC 2177 member Dennis Stubblefield said, “We honor all our forefathers involved in the Civil War - both Confederate and Union. We volunteer as much as we can, if we have the manpower. We have worked on the Rippy Cemetery. It hadn’t been maintained for 40 years. It has both Union and Confederate soldiers.”


SCVC 2177 member Larry Wims added, “By maintaining headstones that is maintaining history. Most of the people’s ancestries will have family members who fought in the Civil War. People might want to do an ancestry search to learn who in their family was involved.”


The volunteers took between seven and eight trucks loaded with tree limbs, sticks, and other trash to the city dump. Over 20 tires were found and removed because or illegally dumping in areas of the cemetery. The FoOFHC will bear the expense of disposing of them properly.


President of FoOFHC Bettie Mason expressed her gratitude for the hard work done by the volunteers and said funds are needed to keep up the cemetery. Those who would like to donate can mail their donations to Old Fountain Head Cemetery at P. O. Box 163, White House, TN, 37188. 


A private donor has offered to match all funds, dollar-for-dollar, that come into the cemetery account between now and the end of June. The FoOFHC encourages everyone that can to make a donation during this time.


Mason said, “My daughter, Diane Gordon, told me that one little girl who had worked hard all morning collecting twigs, dead flowers and faded flags from all over the cemetery came up to her and said she wanted to give her money to help the cemetery. My daughter cried when the little girl handed her 13 cents. If we all had a heart as big as this child, OFHC would be in good hands.”


The cemetery is owned by the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is located where the old Fountain Head meeting house of the Methodist Episcopal Church once stood. The Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held its first session in 1812 there with both Bishop Francis Asbury and Bishop William McKendree presiding.

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