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Cemeteries of the Smokies

Cemeteries of the Smokies

Ever since I got really involved in hiking and supporting Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its park partners, I’ve heard of “the cemetery book.”

When I joined the board of the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), Steve Kemp, editor and publisher for GSMA, now retired, said that the book was “coming along”.

Now Cemeteries of the Smokies by Gail Palmer is here!

Flipping through its 704 pages – yes, 704 pages – I can understand why it took Dr. Gail Palmer two decades to finish it.

If you’ve walked almost anywhere in the Smokies, you’ve encountered cemeteries – the Woody cemetery in Deep Creek, the cemetery outside the Little Cataloochee Baptist church, the ones on the Cades Cove drive.

But Palmer found 152 cemeteries. For each site, she provides in-depth histories alongside a complete listing of burials and dates, kinship links and epitaphs.  The author has collected this infomation in one place, displayed with color photographs, detailed lists, charts and an index of local family names.

Dr. Gail Palmer has a doctorate in cultural studies from the University of Tennessee. She’s written novels set in the Smokies and understands mountain life. Members of her mother’s family has lived and died in areas that are now in the national park.

Wiggins Graves

“While finishing my doctoral degree in cultural studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I decided I wanted to write a book about the Smokies,” Palmer said.

‘“I knew many of the cemeteries were hidden away from view in beautiful locations, sometimes only a few steps from a roadway or well-traveled trail.” She received help from many people and spent hours searching archival material and locating cemeteries.

As a hiker, I want to know that the trail directions are clear and correct. I tested them on the Hoyle cemetery, a four-grave cemetery that I found only with the help of my companions at a Decoration Day years ago. The directions in the book were spot on. Maybe I’ll create a new hiking challenge – find all the cemeteries in the Smokies, as described by this book.

Buy this book from the Great Smoky Mountains Association, a park partner that donates money to the park.
See

The Details
Cemeteries of the Smokies by Dr. Gail Palmer, published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2017. ISBN 978-0-937207-92-5. Price $29.95.

Choose Gifts with Expertly Chosen

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to think about now is buying more gifts. But what if your sister has a birthday next week? If she’s an expert foodie, you don’t want to get her a gift card for her local supermarket. How about a mushroom growing kit or a rolling pin with embossed dinosaurs rolling pin?

Trust me! I didn’t think of these gifts but Expertly Chosen did.

With the Expertly Chosen website, users select a range of interests and personality traits for their recipient. They also choose a price range. The website then collates gift ideas from experts in each of these areas, resulting in a list of suggestions unique to that recipient. Again it avoids that desperate all-purpose gift card.

The owners asked me to look at their website and pick something to review. Their main categories run the gamut from Entertainment to Travel and Adventure. From the latter, I chose Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. It’s a hefty book, not a book to take on a trip, but a fantastic book to plan your travels. I tested the book out just as I would test out a pair of boots.

Where am I going next, I thought? Tucson for some spring hiking and culture. Atlas Obscura  (AO) suggested the Titan Missile Museum, which displays the remnants of cold war missiles. Never heard of it – one point for AO.

Next, I think I know North Carolina well. What did they suggest? Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington full of pitcher plants and Venus flytraps.

This book reminds me of a travel Dream Book. It’s $18 on the Expertly Chosen site and $21 on the supposed cheap giant online book site. How do they do it? Of course, I could have gotten the book in other places but I didn’t know about it until I saw it on ExpertlyChosen.

Subject matter experts choose the gifts. I keep looking at their York bamboo trekking poles and wonder if they need testing as well.

Expertly Chosen is a useful site and fun to browse as well.

Best Outdoor Books of the Year (or so).

If you need a gift quickly, you can’t do better than a book about the outdoors. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I enjoyed this year.

North Carolina Waterfalls

North Carolina Waterfalls by Kevin Adams documents 1,000 waterfalls in the state. Adams is a photographer by trade and his photos are beautiful. In addition, his information is accurate and complete. He describes how to find the waterfall, how to photograph it and gives it a beauty rating.

For children, you can’t go wrong with When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Erica Magnus. Yes, even boys will want to read about the Appalachian Trail.

If your giftee wants a novel, try Boar Island by Nevada Barr. All her mysteries are set around a national park and this one focuses on Acadia National Park.

I haven’t yet reviewed Women of the Smokies by Courtney Lix but it looks good. From Margaret Stevenson to Dolly Parton, many women have influenced Great Smoky Mountains National Park – and some still do.

Of course, you can buy the books online.

But why not try your independent bookstore?

Or for many outdoor books, look at the Great Smoky Mountains Association(GSMA) bookstores. They manage the bookstores in the Smokies. If you don’t live close to the Smokies, you can get the books from the GSMA website.

I can’t end this column without mentioning that you can buy Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South from GSMA as well. The national park service centennial may be over but our parks are ready for the second century.

Get out there!