We are going to spend this month looking at graveyards!
Since October is a month associated with Halloween and ghosts, and since the Historical Society is regularly asked about cemeteries and where someone in their family may be buried, it is a fitting subject.
We have written about old Trousdale County cemeteries in the past, so this time around we will turn our attention to some of the more interesting people buried locally.
Let us start with the most interesting grave in the old Hartsville Cemetery located at the crest of the hill on River Street — the burying place of the very gentleman for whom Hartsville is named, James Hart.
While we have written about ole’ James in the past, with many new people in our community and with the passage of time since our last article on him, he is worth revisiting.
For starters, Captain James Hart is buried in the oldest part of the cemetery that was his family’s private “burying grounds” until the late 1800s, when it was made into a community cemetery.
So that makes his grave one of the oldest in the cemetery, but not the oldest!
Hart was a part of the local home guards in the American Revolution. His brothers all fought in that war in the service of North Carolina. While his brothers received land grants from the state of North Carolina after the war, James’ service in the local militia did not give him the same benefit.
We know that Capt. James Hart and his wife, Sara Hamilton, moved to Middle Tennessee around 1795 or a little after. In 1798 he was buying land from Major Thomas Donoho, whose North Carolina land grant included much of what is now Hartsville.
Once here and living on his new property, Hart invested in a local grist mill, erected an inn, ran a ferry on the river and opened “Hart’s Race Track.”
He was a busy man indeed!
Hart died in 1819 at age 62. But he didn’t get a tombstone until after 1828! We know that because he shares a tombstone with his wife and seven of his 10 children.
And that leads us to another reason his tombstone is interesting. Very few of his children lived to adulthood or contributed to the next generation.
Hart’s stone lists the following: James Hart, 1756-1819; Sarah Hart, Died 1822, aged about 53 years; Peggy Hart, 1789-1792; Nancy Hart, 1792-1800; Samuel Hart, 1794-1822; Moses W. Hart, 1797-1800; Billy H. Hart, 1799-1826; Polly Hart, 1801-1828; and ‘Baby’ Hart, 1808-1808.
None of them listed lived past the year 1828, which leads us to believe the stone was made after that year and is as much a memorial stone as a gravestone, since it lists so many names.
Peggy Hart, who died in 1792, is the oldest listed name in the cemetery. But since the family didn’t move here until after that year, it is pretty certain that she was buried back in North Carolina and her inclusion is a memorial rather than a burial.
Daughter Polly, listed as born in 1801, married Major William Lauderdale. We have also written about this fellow, as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is named in his honor. After having three children, Polly died in 1828.
What of the other three children who are not included on the stone?
One was Cyrus Hart, born in 1803. He married and fathered two sons, both of whom died in the year 1852. Cyrus himself died two years later in 1854. Another was Cynthia, who lived from 1807-1827. The last was Winslow Hart, born in 1810.
Winslow was more fortunate than his parents or siblings. He married and had four children: Sallie Hart Burford, 1851-1878; Mattie Hart Reaves, 1844-1879; William Bilbo Hart, 1833-1908; and John W. Hart, 1848-1907.
William never married, but John married Fannie Caruthers, a member of the same family that founded Cumberland University and had a member who was elected governor of the state.
For a man with 10 children, you would expect to find a Hart descendant on every street corner in our town, but it is not so. But thanks to the descendants from Polly Hart Lauderdale and her brother Winslow, James Hart has family numbering today in the thousands, living from Tennessee to Texas and on to California!