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Benevolent Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

During my research a few years ago, I came across this description of the Rutherford County, Tennessee – Benevolent Cemetery.  I referenced it as a source for my Great Grandparents place of burial.  Several months later I went back to the site to check on a new name that I’d come across only to find the website gone.  Fortunately, I recently found a re-posting of the same information.  This time, with all the proper citations and references in place, I post it here where I can control how long its available for research.

Rutherford County, Tennessee – Benevolent Cemetery

Made available to The USGenWeb Archives by Jim Walker – J-Walker@worldnet.att.net


1100 Broadway,

Nashville, TN 37203 fax # 259-8093

By Trine Tsouderos, Rutherford Today

Murfreesboro – A person could pick his way through the scrubby field off

Highway 231 and never know he was stepping on and over the remains of 320

souls. Johnson grass and other weeds obscure the stones marking hundreds of

graves, mostly of African-Americans, in the Benevolent Cemetery.

Pushing aside the weeds, the names on some of the stones are difficult to


Some date back 100 years to when the cemetery was new and its owners, the

members of the Benevolent Lodge No. 11, were many and strong. The Benevolent

Lodge was an African-American club in Murfreesboro made up of members who

agreed to care for one another in illness and in mourning. Part of the

lodge’s legacy – the club itself is defunct – is its cemetery, which was

deeded over to Allen Chapel AME Church by one of the lodge’s oldest living

members, Mary Goodman.

The Rev. Melvin E. Hughes of Allen Chapel said his congregation periodically

received checks from local funeral homes because they had buried someone in

the Benevolent Cemetery. That helped pay for the upkeep, Hughes said.

But a few years ago, funeral homes stopped burying people in the cemetery,

and the checks stopped coming. Since then, the weeds have grown tall, the

graves have become obscured, and it has become easy to dismiss the cemetery

as a field of weeds. Hughes bemoans the state of the cemetery. The church

is in the midst of a major building program and simply does not have the money

to keep up the cemetery.

Donations or some kind of grant money is needed, he said. “At least to insure

it and keep it up,” Hughes said. He estimates it would take about $50,000 to

insure the cemetery and maybe put a fence up. Several people have made offers

to buy the cemetery land for business uses, which lies in a well-placed spot right

off Highway 231. So far, the church has turned them down. But Hughes said he has

contacted some local franchises about buying the cemetery. One half of it is still

available for burial, Hughes said. So far, there has been little interest in using

the cemetery for future burials, Hughes said.

Hughes said he hopes interest in the cemetery’s history and importance to

the county’s African-American community will spark donations to help pay for

its upkeep. Or perhaps people will start researching who is in the cemetery.

If some kind of historical significance can be attached to it, the church may be

able to obtain some kind of grant, he said. For instance, several people buried

in the Benevolence Cemetery apparently served in the Spanish-American War, in

which the United States joined Cuban rebels in the island’s fight for independence

from Spain in 1898.

For more information about the Benevolence Cemetery, call Allen Chapel AME

Church, 893-7842. The following names were taken off the tombstones in

Benevolent Cemetery in Murfreesboro and published in A History of

Rutherford County’s African-American Community by the Rev. Melvin E. Hughes

Sr. Some of the information is incomplete because of deterioration of the

grave markers.



Walter Rucker Oct. 23 1924 September 24 1926

Savannah Rion Feb. 20 1898 Oct. 2 1899

Ellen Alexander 1831 Oct. 30 1911

Samuel and Minnie Shanes Family

Edgar Shane

Joe Shane

Willie Shane

Nexie Virginie Murfree March 2 1884 Nov. 1 1903

John B. McClellan Jr. Nov. 26 1894 May 13 1934

Joe Alexander 1820 June 15 1904

Louis McDowell Feb. 23 1910

Nathan Turner Jan. 7 1847 Jan. 11 1906

Ike Foster 1864 1959

Adam Delbridge

John Cheers

Isaac and Fanny Fisher:

Issac April 20 1904

Fanny April 4 1894

Sir Thomas Moore Sept. 24 1874 Jan. 22 1901

Nacissa Turner

Hattie Newell May 27 1879 Sept. 2 1898

Mindora Carney Aug. 28 1879 Aug. 30 1898

Richard Vaughn Nov. 5 1900 Dec. 18 1912

Frances Thompson 1893 Nov. 15 1903

Deck North Sept. 7 1909

Henry Smith

Belle Roberson May 10 1846 April 5 1908

Joseph R. Pickett March 12 1846 Oct. 21 1899

Rev. B.F. Anderson Feb. 15 1840 March 3 1915

Mattie B (rest of identification was destroyed)

Fred Barns 1850 1926

Lidda Howse April 9 1880 May 31 1931

Charley F. Howse

George Keeble Feb. 5 1910

Sons of William and Mary

L.I. Harden May 25 1856 1914

Dr. G.C. Harden Jan. 18 1856 July 28 1932

Ollie L. 1880 1954

Virgil 1884 1966

Oscar Sehorn

Fannie Alexander Lytle Nov. 13 1898 Nov. 13 1936

James and America Eules

Luke Malone Feb. 22 1933 July 11 1916

Mattie Pickette April 25 1897 July 17 1916

Rev. E.D. Childress April 19 1917

Matthew Thompson Sept. 18 1891 Dec. 12

Salem Jordan Sept. 27 1879 Oct. 11 1916

Annie Tilford 1870 May 27 1919 Star Chamber 399 Quite,TN

Willie Jarrett Feb. 6 1887 June 16 1939

Eldres Miller 1900 1967

George Scruggs March 17 1919

Nannie G. Williams

Lethia Cunningham

Lizzie AUSB April 13 18? Dec. 16 19? (Remainder of information

was destroyed)


Mattie Sue Long Aug. 25 1872 July 15 1955

Mariah 1845 1929

Hillard 1848 1918

Gustic Lasiter

Jimmie Lasiter 1851 1935

Felix Avent Oct. 28 1876 Aug. 6 1961

James Childress Feb. 4 1897 April 19 1927

Roxie and H Dillard

Annie Bell Butler 1898 1973

William Fletcher 1841 1926

Eugene M. 1881 1925

Fannie K. 1883 1927

Fannie Cowan 1889 1828

Winter 1831 1931

Terrie Fuggett 1886 1938

Thompson Feb. 19 1916 Dec. 5 1928

Dee Phillips Jan. 25 1928 ?

Minnie B. Woodson March 20 1881 Nov. 14 1929

Robert T. Johnson July 6 1902 Oct. 17 1929

Vernon Robinson

Seppie Quarles Dec. 21 1987

Mable Mitchell July 16 1988

Oscar Gordon Jr. July 19 1928

Carrie T. Weatherly Black June 9 1920

Homer Weatherly

Ben Sublett Sr. Oct. 5 1894 March 6 1933

Jim Hickman April 1 1957

Joseph Alexander 1867 1932

Maranda Hodge Sept. 10 1880 Aug. 6 1933

Van Hickman Feb. 23 1938

Wyoming Smith Nov. 11 1947

Clemmie E. Price Smith Nov. 11 1947

Ed Williams 1877 1947

Zera Smith March 25 1951

Hattie M. Johnson Sept. 6 1984 Oct. 27 1948

Irene James Keeble 1864 1951

Susie Murray Lyons 1866 1949

Fannie Prim Jarrett April 18 1898 July 14 1948

Fannie Ree Woodson 1916 1948

Nora Moore 1879 1944

Rufus Brandon Feb. 6 1963

Mattie Frazier McClain Aug. 25 1881 Dec. 25 1955

Robert Hyde Aug. 1 1905 Aug. 4 1955

Johnie 1984 1962

Carrie 1897 19?


Eva Mai Smith Feb. 21 1970

Ruth Smith Nov. 21 1969

Charlie Smith July 4 1879 April 11 1948

Alta Bonds

James Pickett 1871 1957

Eugene M. Woodson April 17 1912 May 12 1961

Frank Sublet 1876 1961

Rev. Jessie C. Alexander 1906 1968

Jim E. Gaine May 14 1964

Edna Mitchell May 1 1964

joe Robinson 1883 1963

Willie Robin King 1883 1967

Andrew King Nov. 13 1970

Joe W. McIntyre 1901 1971

Minnie H. McIntyre 1900 1966

Leana M. Jordan May 20 1870 Dec. 19 1964

Sam Ella Sanford 1910 1983

Pearline Haynes 1912 1963

Bessie Allen Oct. 12 1907 Feb. 10 1974

Armenta D. Norris May 17 1919 April 24 1974

Cora Ramsey

Early McGowan Sr. 1909 1984

Mary E. Davis Dec. 20 1984

Lutisha Allen Nov. 12 1886 Oct. 20 1972

Bishop S. Jarrett 1892 1970

Ruby Lee Womack Feb. 22 1919 May 10 1974

Rev. Hugh Trimble Feb. 8 1976

Everleana Reece June 27 1976

Vella McKnight 1886 1969

Millie Bass

Fannie C. Taylor Dec. 14 1906 Dec. 10 1971

Mildred Brown Jan. 18 1972

Leana Ramsey Dec. 12 1971

Annie Lou McGowan Oct. 22 1912 Dec. 24 1972

Minnie J. Hatchett 1910 1973

Nannie H. Jordan June 22 1985

Howard Moore 1900 1984

Maggie Kate Howse 1903 1984

Victoria Taylor Feb. 24 1886

Brenda Bigsby March 20 1986

Lucille Smith Nov. 10 1983

Joe M. McGuire (remainder of identification was lost)

Caleph Smith 1909 1983

John Thompson Jr. July 2 1932 April 23 1983

Wayman Johnson Jan. 1 1983

Minnie Brown Jan. 19 1983

H-llum Howse (remainder of identification was lost)

Leon Williams Sept. 24 1982

Cal H. Puckett May 26 1982

Johnny Crocckett May 26 1982

Hattie Crowford (remainder of identification was lost)

J-h Ferguson (remainder of identification was lost)

Christie Burns Dec. 5 1980

Earl Gatson Jan 1 1899 Nov. 6 1980

Bessie Nunn June 19 1919 Oct. 26 1979

Eugene Franklin Dec. 25 1927 Feb. 7 1979

Alonza Williams June 13 1978

Andy Drake March 5 1909 March 7 1978

Roosevelt Davis Feb. 13 1978

Randall Davis June 13 1989

Lizzie Maney May 26 1989

Charles Majors Jan. 17 1989

Walter Allen Dec. 3 1912 Dec. 15 1988

Goldie M. Davis 1912 1988

Joe Mosley March 31 1988

Calvin Anderson Feb. 19 1988

Mattie Mae Mullins May 14 1907 Feb. 23 1988

Lee. C. Fields Feb. 20 1903 Jan. 23 1988

Annie B. Smith June 12 1987

Henry C. Puckett Oct. 29 1932 Aug. 12 1987

William I. Brown May 18 1977


USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing

free information on the Internet, data may be used by

non-commercial entities, as long as this message

remains on all copied material. These electronic

pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit

or for presentation by other persons or organizations.

Persons or organizations desiring to use this material

for purposes other than stated above must obtain the

written consent of the file contributor.

This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb

Archives by: Jim Walker

< J-Walker@worldnet.att.net >



Surnames of Interest

Below is a listing of surnames I’m very interested in for my research as well as the timeframes and US states for each.  If any of these can be cross-referenced with your research, please don’t hestitate to reach out.  Thanks!

Name Soundex Qty Date Range State
BATEY B300 15 1848 – 1912 TN
BRADFORD B631 13 1876 – 1929 TN
BROWN B650 89 1829 – 1989 TN
BYNUM B550 85 1818 – 2007 FL, SC
COLEMAN C455 21 1815 – 1949 TN
CRUTCHER C632 8 1902 TN
GRAHAM G650 12 1805 – 1898 FL
KIMBRO K516 8 1845 – 1884 TN, TX
MURFREE M616 5 1833 – 1878 TN
NATTIEL N340 10 1927 – 1952 FL
POSEY P200 9 1883 – 1909 TN
ROSS R200 15 1825 – 1909 TN
SMITH S530 20 1851 – 1909 TN

Wordless Wednesdays

I’ve decided to adopt the gen-blog “tradition” of posting pictures instead of words on Wednesday…..starting, now…

2nd Great Grandfather

My 2nd Great Grandfather

Minnie (Batey) Brown

Minnie Batey was born on September 30, 1905.  She grew up with her mother, Mamie Kirk and her sister, Tennie.  She only went to the fifth grade, but she was very smart, both with intellectually and with common sense.  She gave birth to her son, Wash William Brown, alone at the age of fifteen and placed him in a trunk.  She didn’t tell her mother about the birth for two days but cared for her son alone.  After two days, she contacted her paternal grandmother Liza and told her of the birth and went to live with her grandmother and her father, Wash Batey.  Minnie had a hard time for the next few months because her mother insisted on whipping her for having a baby and there was constant friction between her father, her mother and her.  Baby Wash’s father, Iss William Brown, found out about the birth, went and took Minnie and their son to live with him and his mother, Jennie Kimbro.  They were married June of 1921, their son was five months old and they both adored him.  Minnie, now a wife and mother, showed extraordinary judgment and sensibility at that time for such a young woman.  She could cook almost anything without measuring the ingredients.  She enjoyed cooking and keeping house for her family.  She kept an immaculately clean house, everything had a place and everything should be in its place.  Her husband, Iss, did not share this passion and many arguments ensued over the years regarding same.  She was not a trusting woman and often exhibited signs of that mistrust with friends and distant relatives.  If she did not want people to return to her house, after their visit she would sweep red pepper out of the door behind them.  For her family which included her husband, son, granddaughter and first daughter in law, Violet; Minnie would go to the ends of the earth,   they helped to raise their granddaughter after her parents were divorced.  They, both, adored that granddaughter and taught her many things about life and how to handle life problems.  Iss and Minnie were very much in love with each other and remained married until Iss passed away in 1977.  Although their son, Wash, chose not to tell Minnie of Iss’s death, she instinctively knew.  She often said “I know Iss is dead.”  But, in her more lucid moments, she hoped that she was wrong.  Minnie died in January, 1983.  Most people in Murfreesboro remember “Momma Minnie.”

Minnie (Batey) Brown – est. 35 years old

Iss William Brown

“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for her, but I wouldn’t pay a nickel for another one like her.”

Iss Brown reflecting on his grand-daughter, Minnie.

Iss was born on October 12, 1897 to Jennie Kimbro and William Brown. The name Iss was from Jennie’s brother, Iss. Iss William grew up to be a very handsome young gentleman; quite a lady’s man. He only formally completed the third grade but could read and appreciate very complex subject matter such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek mythology and various travel books and brochures. Reading was very enjoyable to him. He traveled much of the United States working as a porter for Burnes’ Motor company (new car dealership). He delivered new cars to buyers all over the U.S. and Canada. He wanted to visit Cairo Egypt and often remarked that one day he would. He also did a little “bootlegging” which was very common for a young Black man of his day. However, he was very respected by the authorities including sheriff Buford PusserHe and Minnie Batey married and became the parents of a bouncing baby boy who grew up quickly. Minnie and Iss taught their son, Wash, a strong sense of self worth and work ethics. Iss loved Minnie very much and didn’t want her to work outside the home. But, Minnie was a feminist long before the Women’s Movement was ever thought of. She worked whenever she decided to and spent her money to buy extra things from the peddler (a traveling salesman who allowed weekly payments for merchandise.) It is hard to described Iss’s life without adding facts about his beloved wife, Minnie. They would quarrel and argue about subjects that neither knew a great deal about. But both were competitive and enjoy trying to get “one up on the other.”Iss had a knack for charming the ladies, he would smile with that golden smile (all his teeth were gold.) and he had a twinkle in his eye that was hard to resist. Women, old and young, were fascinated by the wiles of Iss W. Brown. Later, he and Minnie became grand parents of a grand daughter who became the “apple of their eyes.” Their grand daughter became their pride and joy and she lived with them for most of her young life. There was nothing they would not do for their grand daughter. They taught her some of the most important life lessons she ever learned; how observe a person’s action and tell what type of person they are, to make sure that you planned how you were react in certain situations, keeping your business to yourself , and not trusting everyone who claims to be your friend. Iss generally taught by using parables and citing examples while Minnie taught by constant reminding when certain incidents occurred. M. Beatrice quickly understood the importance of saving some of her money as her grandfather

was the person to come to when the Black community needed a short term loan, such as two or three dollars. He charged twenty-five cents on a dollar per week. Guess he didn’t know about usury. He kept very good records, making note in a small composition book of all transactions and allowed his granddaughter to count monies collected and keep books up to date as debts were either paid on or paid in full. He enjoyed “shooting dice” and apparently was pretty good. He once won a horse that he brought home for his granddaughter to ride; he also won a full house of furnishing but only took certain pieces from the home and wife of the gambler. He had a strong sense of fair play and even though he wasn’t religious in the general way, he was God fearing and tried to live his life treating others as he wanted to be treated. Arthritis ravaged his body late in his life and he was unstable in his gait; but men, older and younger, would come to his house, take him to the “gathering place” where he enjoyed having a drink of “white lightening” two fingers measured on a small glass. Everyone in Murfreesboro knew and remember Iss as “Cuz” because that was his reference for most boys and men in the community. He treated all women with total respect even if he didn’t agree with many of their ways. He passed away in May 1977 after spending his last days in Detroit with his granddaughter who adored him. Stories are still told today in Murfreesboro about the antics of “Cuz or Cuzo.”

Iss is buried  next to  his life’s love, Minnie at the Benevolent Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.

Written by his loving granddaughter, Minnie.

D’King – “You no ‘oman less you kin.”

Based on my research, most of my maternal line can be found in or around Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  One of the earliest ancestors I’ve found so far actually migrated (at some point) from Texas.  I believe this because I actually have a document which is almost as good a the slave narratives.  Ed Bell, the editor of The Rutherford Courier, penned a book in 1948 called, The Lonely People and their strange ways.  The book was about people living in Murfreesboro that Ed met during his time there.  My 3rd Great Grand-parents, George & Alice Kimbro (Kimbrough) were the subjects of one of his chapters, particularly Alice.  A copy of the text has been passed down for a couple of generations and I’m re-printing it here….

An afternoon in February with yellow winter sunshine coming down the small hill on South Walnut and reflecting across the shanties of Blackbottom…

A great bony Negro woman rocking on the porch of a house at the bottom of the hill, a dingy poodle dog at her feet, its belly turned up to the friendly sun… Aunt Alice Kimbrough, who had been living ninety years, talked about her youth, about when she was known as D’King, the champion wrestler of anywhere there is.

She was the most wrestling fool that ever wore a shoe polish skin, and no man nor woman could throw her down…  Except one man and she married him…The folks came from 500 and sometimes 5,000 miles to see D’King…They would flock on the fences like blackbirds to watch her grab them up and lay them on the cold, cold ground… When a nigger man or nigger woman got mean and talked to much, they said, “We get D’King to han’le you” and the bragger ran away and never come back again…

On D’King’s wedding day, when they were fixing her up with fine clothes to marry the only man in the whole world who could throw her down, a bigmouth yellow woman from the north country come along….The yellow said she never been throwed by anybody…”We get D’King to han’le you,” And the wedding guests said…But D’King was a busy woman…The barbecue was cooked, George and the preacher waiting…George was her true love…

D’King told them to go tell that fool ‘oman she had no crow to pick with anybody anymore except George…She was not wrestling again until she was a married woman…but her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Which made her courage rise up till she laid by her bridal veil and went out to throw the bigmouth yellow from the north country…She made one pass at her middle and threw her so hard she hit the ground like a shook apple…Before the woman could get up D’King was back in the house ready to marry the only man.

D’King and her good friend who was name Cassie Ann were the strongest niggers anywhere there is…They could stand in a half-bushel measure and shoulder three bushels of wheat…If D’King hestitated, her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Then she lifted it without one word more.

She was the healthiest pickaninny slave down in Texas…It was because she got so much sugar to eat…And the way she got all the sugar was by busting her bare big toe against a rock and running to the Missus to medicine it with turpentine and sugar…D’King ate the sugar off the toe and got fat.

After her marriage to George Kimbrough, she settled down because George done her good…He never called her fool or liar like all the other nigger’s husbands who called their women everything but a cedar bush…The night of the wedding there was happy doings at the white folks’ house and D’King and George got so many chickens for presents they had to get two somebodies to help carry them home…They lived together many years doing good and having seven children… Of these she was proudest of a double-jointed nigger named Iz… Iz hit a Kentucky mule in the head with his fist once and the mule didn’t live any more.

That was the tale Aunt Alice told me on a yellow winter afternoon a long time ago—I saved it to tell when she died.

George and Alice also had a daughter named Jennie.  Jennie’s son, Iss William Brown is likely Iz’ namesake.

Booker S. Brown

Booker Sampson Brown was born in May of 1836.  While my research has not determined the identity of Booker’s parents.  Family legend suggests that Booker cared for his younger brother Hillery during the latter years of slavery.  Later, according to the marriage certificate, he served as a witness to Hillery’s marriage to the former Bettie Roberson.

In January 1864, during the darkest days of the Civil War, Booker was “enrolled” into the 17th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry for a three year tour of duty.  Although I’m not fortunate enough to have a photo of Booker, his enlistment record describes him as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, dark complected with Black Hair.  For the privilege of spending his new found freedom as an enlisted soldier in the army, Booker owed $26.43 to the U.S. government for the uniform(s) provided.

Clearly, this enrollment (or the experience of service itself) was not to Booker’s liking; and February 2nd of the same year, Booker “deserted.”  Booker Booker’s service is on display on plaque Plaque Number: B-34 in the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1999.  By 1870, Booker settled down with his wife, Frances, and had a total of nine children.

booker's regimet pic2