Project of the Nashville City Cemetery Association
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Recording of Tombstone Inscriptions
Major recordings of the Cemetery City tombstone
inscriptions were conducted in 1908 and again in the
1960’s. During 2005-2006, 135 Volunteers participated in a
NCCA project to once again record inscriptions. Every
tombstone had been assigned an identification number. Volunteers inspected every tombstone. The final
count was 1,950 tombstones and 15 historical markers
surveyed during this project. On a survey form, a volunteer wrote down the inscription,
line by line, exactly as it was inscribed on the
tombstone. Another 1,000 tombstones did not have legible
inscriptions because the names and dates had been worn
away or cracked off or were covered with lichen.
Resource Maps: CLICK
HERE to learn about the 1908 Plat Map with sections and lots and the 2005 Map with
Research Resources listed in
1908 Plat Map - CLICK
“Old City Cemetery, Nashville, Tenn.”
Section Plat Maps with Lots and individual names on Lots.
Smith* & Drake, Engineers. Published October 9, 1908.
*Felix Randolph Robertson Smith
Felix Randolph Robertson Smith, Engineer, under the direction of Major Eugene C. Lewis, was responsible for important surveys of the Nashville City Cemetery in 1908. This survey work resulted in the Plats of the Sections & Lots (1908), the recording of the Inscriptions on Tombstones (1908) with a Supplement (1911) and the publication of the Alphabetical List of the Dead (1909). Mr. Smith’s work provided the earliest documentary evidence of the Sections, Lots and Tombstones and Inscriptions at Nashville City Cemetery.
Felix Randolph Robertson Smith, son of Elizabeth Anderson Robertson Smith and Thomas Smith, was born March 16, 1838. Felix was the grandson of Lydia Waters and Dr. Felix Robertson, and the great grandson of founders of Nashville, Charlotte Reeves and James Robertson. Mr. Smith died on February 12, 1920, and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.
CLICK HERE for the Alphabetical List of the Dead from 1909.
CLICK HERE for the list of Inscriptions corresponding with the 1908 Plat
Maps. Published in Tennessee Records:
Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts, compiled by
Jeannette Tillotson Acklen, published Nashville, 1933.
Supplement 1911 Listing
CLICK HERE for the list of Inscriptions corresponding with the 1911
Published in Acklen, Tennessee Records, 1933.
Garrett - Jill K. Garrett and Iris H. McClain worked on recording
the cemetery inscriptions between 1954 & 1970. CLICK HERE to access the listings. This limited
edition, entitled Old City Cemetery Tombstone
Inscriptions, was typed in 1971.
- a useful resource for graveyard symbolism can be accessed online by CLICKING HERE.
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Some Matters of Importance
Epitaphs were seldom recorded
in the earlier surveys. Epitaphs are very difficult to read
because they were written in cursive style. Wherever
possible, in the 2005-2006 project epitaphs were recorded
by the volunteers.
Interment Date is date of burial at the City
Cemetery, not the date of death. Burials usually took
place within a few days of death, but in some cases there was delay because the person had died out of town.
Death Date on the tombstone might be in error because of a stone
carver’s mistake or because the tombstone was placed on
the lot many years after the person’s death and the exact
date of death had been forgotten. Death date finding aids:
Death Records in Davidson County and in Tennessee
Google Tennessee State Library & Archives Research and Collections
Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908-1912
Davidson County Death Records 1900-1913
Age of the Person at Death often inscribed on an
individual’s tombstone, in the 19th century, was the age
the person would have reached in the year of his death,
such as “In the 57th Year of His Age”
Difference in Spellings often exist between the
names inscribed on the tombstones and the names written in
the Interment records. These differences are due to the
stone carver or to the City Cemetery Sexton who wrote the
names in the Interment Books. Sometimes the spellings of
family names differ on the tombstones in the same family
Tombstones fallen face down, broken or below ground or
illegible because of lichen. In the future, it may be
possible to read some of these tombstone inscriptions when
they are re-set, conserved or repaired. Additional
inscription data will be added to this web site when
available. At the conclusion of the restoration in
2009, Sections and Lots will be re-visited.
Research Helped to Fill-in the missing portions of
inscriptions. Additional information has been typed in
bold in the Inscription write-up, for example:
(Inscription worn away except letters “Wet”)
March 31, 1804
April 14, 1848
By using the 1908 Plat, the Section and Lot were located
tombstone on that Lot was named “Lewis Wetzel Died 1848”
Interment index listed his burial as April 16, 1848. Smith
listed the entire inscription. All these together made it
complete the original inscription as shown above.
Descendants are Invited to email historical information,
including copies of obituaries, firstname.lastname@example.org or to mail to our P.O. Box 150733, Nashville, TN. 37215
Fletch Coke 2013
Nashville City Cemetery Association
Coordinator Tombstone Inscription Project