Our Southern Journey--The Brogan Cemetery

Because we made such poor time leaving Texas, we tried to compensate by leaving earlier from Vicksburg. Which, admittedly, put us both into sort of a heated mood. The ongoing battle with the air conditioner in a twenty year old F-150 didn't help to cool things off either.

Which brings me to:
When my husband drives, it's like

Mistake #3--Don't assume you'll be able to "make up time" in the South

The posted highway speed in every state from Texas to Virginia was 70 miles an hour. In order to make up time, it requires you to drive faster than the posted speed limit. When your posted speed limit is 70 miles an hour, you never make up the time. Trust me. My husband tried, and it didn't happen.


Mistake #4--Have a back-up plan. If you don't have a back-up plan, be good at thinking on your feet

This one was all my fault, and I readily admit to that. I planned to go to three cemeteries. The Brogan and Clark cemeteries in Claiborne County, Tennessee and the McKenzie Cemetery in Grayson County, Virginia. Not only did I not calculate in nearly enough time and daylight to visit all three of these cemeteries, I didn't calculate any time in if something went wrong. And I fell right into the trap I had already seen coming.

There are two Brogan cemeteries in this part of Tennessee. I know this. I have seen them both on FindAGrave.com. I know that one of them is in the wrong county. And I even had it in mind that I needed to bring the locations of both in case I made a mistake.

Did I listen to my better judgment? No. Did we go to the wrong cemetery? Yes. Were we able to find the information for the other cemetery on our own? Not on your life. Did we have cell reception to fix it? Absolutely not.

At this point, I was already in hysterics. At least I had the presence of mind to say a prayer. If we could somehow find this one cemetery, the one I most needed to visit, I would be willing to give up going to the other two. And that was the price I had to pay for being unprepared.

My husband is amazing, and endlessly patient with me. Instead of becoming fed up and deciding to move on, he headed in the direction of town so we could at least get reception. He was going to stop at the town hall to see if they couldn't help us, while I was still dealing with my utter devastation in the passenger seat.

All of the sudden he pulls into the parking lot for a funeral home. I was somewhere between "That is a really good idea," and the bitterness of not getting my hopes up.

The two guys we talked to were obviously Southern gentlemen, and were very nice. We asked if they could tell us where the cemetery was, and they asked who we were looking for. I told them Willis I. Greene, and the elder of them pulled a book off the shelf and started looking for something. That's when he found this:

Brogan Cemetery roster--Caliborne County, Tennessee

My face must have given me away, because he said, in a perfect Southern drawl, "You didn't think we was gon' find this, did you?" I sincerely thanked them, and the younger gentleman gave us very detailed instructions on exactly how to get there. Together with the description on the cemetery roster, we had no problem finding the cemetery after that.

We drove down Upper Caney Valley Road, and I have to say that Tennessee is one of the more beautiful places God ever made. I loved it. And the only time I was grateful to be in an F-150 on that entire trip was when we got to the cemetery, because the entrance looked like:

Entrance to the Brogan Cemetery in Claiborne County, Tennessee

The cemetery itself wasn't in much better condition. The stones were in great shape, but it has grass and weeds as tall as I am.

After a very stressful afternoon, I finally found the headstone I had been searching for.

Headstone for Willis I. Greene and Laura Clark Greene, buried in Brogan Cemetery, Claiborne County, TN

Laura Clark Greene and Willis I. Greene

By the time we got into the cemetery and began taking pictures, it started to rain. And I mean, POUR. Between BillionGraves locking up my phone, the sheets of rain coming down, and our time being more limited than ever, we had to leave in a hurry.

We used all the time we had, and more, which made it impossible to wait out the rain or visit the Clark Cemetery. It makes me sad, because the Clark Cemetery was right down the street. But because it is even further off the beaten trail, it was safer in the end to leave it for another trip.

Brogan Cemetery--Claiborne County, TN

I've since added Brogan Cemetery to Google Maps, and will update the information for the cemetery on FindAGrave.com. Everything I can do to put this cemetery on the map is so important to keep Generation 2.0 from making the same mistake I just did. For better or worse, things that are not listed in the proper places on the internet are inaccessible in real life--and risk being lost to history.

Mistake #5--Don't forget to have enough to do

I was a passenger for the entire journey home because I can't drive a manual yet, and I was so bored. There is no reason for a genealogist to ever be bored, there is simply too much to do. Granted, most of the work on my to-do list required an internet connection, but there was plenty I could have done instead to pass the time.

I did manage to watch the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with Kelly Clarkson, my reaction to which was definitely shaped by the experiences on my trip. My thoughts on it and those experiences are, for the time being

To be continued...