I decided to take a long drive today. I just needed to get out for a while. I ended up on a curvy stretch of road that appeared to have been battered and beaten by landslides from the looks of all the repairs (and yellow signs). It’s definitely not a road that I would want to drive during heavy rains!
However, it was a beautiful drive with gorgeous scenery. I had to stop when I spotted this old cemetery. France Cemetery is about half way between Monterey and Sparta off of highway 84, also known as Monterey Highway or Calfkiller Highway.
Here I saw some of the most interesting graves. I’ve never seen huge slabs of concrete like this over graves before. It left me wondering why?
Many of the tombstones were eroded so badly that they could not be read, but Cap’t Champ Ferguson’s grave had a newer tombstone placed to mark his grave along with a Confederate flag and flowers. I did a quick search online to find more information about Captain Ferguson and found an interesting article from Tennessee Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans titled, Champ Ferguson: Hero & Martyr, or Something Else?
I wasn’t completely alone out here. There was this shy little lizard. It darted in between the tombstone and concrete slabs to keep a watchful eye on me.
Back on the road and closer to Sparta, I noticed the river next to me. There were several places to pull off the road, so I took the opportunity to stop again. It was so green! When I noticed the sign for Calfkiller River going over a bridge in Sparta, my imagination ran wild over the name of the river. Given the swampy appearance, I imagined all of the cows in the community drowning in the river or being eaten by alligators, not that we have alligators here. I just have a wild imagination.
There are 3 explanations for the name of the river given in the article Legends & Stories of White County, TN, by Coral Williams; but I think this one is the most interesting:
“When the white settlers first crossed the mountains and came into what is now White County, they found a small tribe of Cherokee Indians living in the little valley. This Indian chief, with his band of marauders, made frequent raids upon the young and tender cattle of the pioneers. Because he lived on the bank of the river, it became the custom to refer to the stream as Calfkiller’s river which later became Calf Killer River.”*
*Williams, Coral. “Legends & Stories of White County, TN.” The Heritage of Daniel Haston. 30 December 2008. Wayne Haston. 23 June 2012. <http://www.danielhaston.com/history/tn-history/white-county/legends-whiteco1.htm>.