This past Sunday, Joe and I took a quick day trip to see some friends in Winchester, Tennessee. While there, the four of us went on a long walk, and we strolled all around the neighborhood.
These graves were originally located by a church that stood in Winchester until the 1950s when Tims Ford Lake was developed. The graves were moved to higher ground before the area was flooded (in order to establish Tims Ford Lake).
We happened upon a various number of graves…
But one grave stone, in particular, drew my eye…
Julia A. Fanning
Born December 20, 1812
Died October 2, 1877
A little research yielded the following information…
Julia Ann Yarborough was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee in 1812. (She was a “Christmas baby.”) I could find no record of her father or mother. However, I do know she married. Julia wed Benjamin Franklin Fanning on April 22, 1856 when Julia was forty-four, and Benjamin was just one year shy of sixty. But Benjamin had been married once before.
Benjamin was born October 7, 1797 in Elbert County, Georgia, and his first marriage (when Benjamin was 16) was to Mahala White Fanning who bore him 15 (fifteen) children!
James Fanning, Stephen Fanning, Samuel B. Fanning, Unknown Fanning, Elizabeth Fanning, Mirilda Fanning, William Carroll Fanning, John W. Fanning, Francis Marion Fanning, Martha Jane (Fanning) Holliday, America Fanning, Victoria Fanning, Mary Fanning, Unknown Fanning, Unknown Fanning
I love reading diary accounts and journals from the 19th century for the names alone.
So imagine what it was like when Benjamin and Julia married after Mahala’s passing. Talk about an instant family for Julia!
Benjamin and Julia did have one son together, Thomas, who was born to them in 1858 when Julia was 46 years old. Sadly, in 1870, twelve short years later, Benjamin passed on. And tragically, when Thomas was sixteen, he was killed by “an accidental gunshot wound.” Julia lived three more years and passed in 1877.
I know it may sound silly. . .
But as I walked that neighborhood Sunday afternoon—and even as we drove home—I thought of Julia. About what she looked like, what her voice sounded like, if her hands were small or large, her eyes blue or green or brown or hazel. What did her laughter sound like? Did she laugh often? Or was she more stoic? What was it like to live as a single woman until age forty-four, then get married to a man who had a passel of children!
I thought of Benjamin and Thomas, too. About what kind of relationship they shared. If they were close. If Thomas got along with all of his brothers and sisters.
Even now, I wonder if Julia and her family were believers in Christ (I have reason to believe they were due to the faint reference on the headstone which I haven’t quite deciphered all of it yet). But I sure hope they were because I’d love to meet Julia and her family someday and find out what their life in Winchester was like, what Julia learned and appreciated about her earthly journey, and her heavenly Father—who knows every person’s name, whether history records their stories or not.
So…if only graves could speak.
But maybe they can—especially with the help of today’s internet and all the online genealogies. I’m so grateful for those people among us who, like me, love tracing lineages and keeping track of births and deaths, sons and daughters, and all the marriages (and living) in between.
Are you a fellow cemetery lover? If yes, tell me about your latest cemetery tromp. What draws you to those places?
Blessings on this first Tuesday of March—and please, if you’re in a state that’s part of Super Tuesday, then get out there and VOTE today!
It was Dana Corkern’s 49th birthday on Sunday, so Dana, Curt, Joe and I celebrated by going to Sunrise, a delicious breakfast/brunch/lunch place in Winchester, TN.
They brought Dana a birthday pancake! Did I mention breakfast was delicious!? : )
Which do you like better?
Biscuits or Pancakes?
(Me? I couldn’t decide so ate both!) ; }