Saturday, November 1, 2008

When The Town Pitches In To Serve Those Who Have Lost

Often times when a family lost a baby or young child in rural Tennessee, the entire town got together and helped give the child a proper burial because often the parents could not afford it.

I realized this on a trip to visit my Grandpa in Carter County, Tennessee. I went to a cemetery to see where my great grandparents were buried. As I was wandering around the cemetery looking at all the grave markers, I noticed a small grave marker underneath an overgrown bush. After pushing the bush back, I found a small gravemarker with the words "Inf. Dau. of Monroe and Matilda Dugger". I thought it was odd since no one mentioned a baby girl that had died. I asked my Grandpa about it when I got back to the house, and he was shocked to learn that there was a sister he never knew about!

I later learned from a lovely elderly woman who knew my great grandparents that it was their second child. They didn't have much money to bury the child with a nice grave marker so the entire town donated money and time to help them. She said that many of the women in town helped care for the couple's first child while also making meals for the family. Many of the men helped dig the grave and multiple families donated money to help afford a beautiful gravemarker.

Once the child was buried, the town moved on and never spoke of it again. The couple never spoke of it again and never even told their children (as far as I know).

Isn't it amazing how after a huge loss such as that of a child, that the town will come together in order to ensure that the child has a proper burial?

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...


Thanks for this touching essay --- I'd like to think these fine characteristics are just of the South and Southern Mountains but I know the spirit of helping and of sharing is not just a regional occurrence --- they are universal.