Monday, March 14, 2011

Compensation for the Many Cares of Life

“Providence has given us hope and sleep as a compensation for the many cares of life”

    Providence Methodist Church and Cemetery in Madison County, TN
I just read on my blackberry that a couple of escaped convicts were being chased by the police through Madison County, Tenn. That was somewhat ironic because I had just been researching my grandfather's maternal line, the Williamsons, and they settled and helped to develop Madison County just at the edge of the Haywood County, Tenn line.

One interesting aspect of the Williamson family is their relationship to the cemetery at the Providence United Methodist Church.

My third great grandfather, Beverly M. Williamson moved from Franklin County, Tenn., likely with a land grant, at some point before 1850. His farm was in Madison County near the site where Providence Methodist Church sits today.

According to the book “A Journey Into Yesteryears” by Martha Jones:

"...a piece of the property owned by Williamson was referred to as a "burial ground" with some graves dating back to the 1700s. Each fall, a man named Mr. Adams would come visit Williamson and together they would trap animals for fur. One year he became sick and died. Williamson allowed him to be buried 'on the hill in the burial ground' and that is how that area became an official cemetery.”
The headstones of Beverly Williams and two of his wives, Ellen and Nancy
On April 19, 1869, Williamson officially deeded the land to his church, Providence United Methodist Church.

When Williamson died in 1877 he joined his two wives in the cemetery and the family would continue to utilize it as their final resting place for generations to come.

Eventually, Williamson's children; Bob, John, Mary, Tom, James, Clark, Bee and my second great grandfather Joe Williamson were all buried in the cemetery along with their spouses and children.
Backrow: Janie Williamson Williams, Jessie Williamson, Nannie Williamson
Front row: Jo Williamson Reed, Joe Williamson, Mai Williamson Shelton
Unfortunately, my second great grandfather, Joe Williamson, became all too familiar with the cemetery in his lifetime. His wife Mary Elizabeth Joyner died on January 16, 1898 at the age of 36, leaving Joe with five girls ages 15, 13, 10, seven and two.

In 1901, Joe issued a deed for an acre of land that his father had left him for a school to be built near the church and cemetery.

In 1905, his daughter Jessie died at age 20. That same year, Joe donated three more acres of land to the church. Part of the land was between the church and the cemetery while another was located on the south side of the cemetery.

Two years later in 1907, Joe's daughter Nannie died at age 24. In his lifetime, Joe experienced the early deaths of his mother, father, step-mother, wife and two daughters and all were buried in the Providence cemetery.

Joe himself died on Jan. 22, 1909 at age 51 and was laid to rest there as well.

Only five years later, his daughter Janie, who was my great grandmother, died at 27 leaving her 4-year-old son, my grandfather Bo Williams without a mother.

Janie, like those from her family who had gone before her was buried at Providence.
Click to read
In the 1980s, my grandmother, Elizabeth Williams, joined a group of ladies from the church who gathered each week to sew in order to raise money for Providence.

When my grandfather died at age 97 he was buried there next to my grandmother and close to the graves of one of his sons, Jess Williams, his mother, grandparents and great grandparents.

You can read more about the Providence Methodist Church Cemetery and the Williamson family here.

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