|Walnut Grove Cemetery|
For over a century the Walnut Grove
Cemetery has served as a final resting place for hundreds of people.
The original cemetery covered about three acres and now it has expanded
to 7 acres. There is a blacktop
road from Hector to the cemetery and blacktop driveways inside the cemetery
making easy access for cars and funeral equipment. A chain link fence surrounds
the cemetery with two gates for entrance.
Most of the people buried in the cemetery
are members of closely interrelated local families. As of April 12, 2011, there
are 158 people by the name of Coffman buried in the cemetery.
The second largest family group is the Churchill family with 64
identifiable markers. Some families
have as many as six generations buried in the cemetery.
There are several graves of Civil War veterans, as well as graves of
those who gave their lives in other wars in service of our country.
The cemetery was begun at the end of the 19th
century when a 14-month old boy, Floid N. Coffman, died March 17, 1898.
He was born January 11, 1897 to William and Mary Ann Coffman.
William Coffman had come to Walnut Grove from Giles County, Tennessee
soon after the Civil War. The cause
of Floid’s death is unknown and he is buried in the northeast section of the
cemetery. His gravestone is marked ‘First in Yard”.
Floid was a brother to Chester and Mack Coffman.
Records indicate the second burial was that of Mary J. Story, wife of
Melvin Story. She was born March
10, 1854 and died January 10, 1899. The
third burial was that of John E. Jones, born March 4, 1804 and died November 15,
1899. A number of graves are
unmarked except for native stones. Names
are listed in a plot book for the unmarked graves with very few dates shown.
Before 1898, people in the Walnut Grove
community used the Old Baptist Cemetery located one mile east and ˝ mile south
of Hector near Clear Creek on the David Llewellyn estate.
Several other cemeteries were used by the people of Walnut Grove
including the Price Cemetery located two miles north of Hector on Highway 27 in
an area known locally as the Webb Bottoms.
Another was Hill Cemetery located north and east of Welcome Home Free
Will Baptist Church about five miles east of Hector. Also in use as burial grounds were Campground (Boiling
Springs) Cemetery, Rock Springs Cemetery, and Forks of the Creek Cemetery all near
The Walnut Grove community included several
families, most with many children. Church and other community affairs created
strong bonds even among neighbors who lived miles apart.
Families were not left alone, but they looked after each other in the
fashion of good neighbors.
would communicate at considerable distances from house to house by
‘hollering’. Hollering was a
fine art in which different high-pitched yells would signal to neighbors that
all was well, or that help was needed. The
most effective communication across distance was through the church and cemetery
bells. A system was worked out
through which neighbors were notified of illness or death.
In the latter case, help would be needed in digging a grave, building a
coffin and preparing the body for burial. Responses
to such alarms were rapid, since every family had a riding horse, reserved from
farm work that was used on such occasions and for other travel.
Telephone service came soon after World War I.
During the 1886-89 periods, people living
in the two or three mile area formed a church.
A log structure was erected on Dare Creek two miles northeast of Hector
and a short distance north of where the pavilion is located at the cemetery
today. The church was originally of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination.
When a name became necessary for the church, Walnut Grove was suggested
because the log structure was located in a grove of walnut trees.
In 1889 at a brush arbor meeting, Walnut Grove Church was organized as a
Free Will Baptist Church. Walnut
Grove never had a post office or a store, but it had an active community life
revolving around the church. The
first church burned and another one was built.
In the 1920’s approximately 1924, this structure was moved two and ˝
miles to where it now stands on the Hector-Appleton Road now known as Pine
The original church and its replacement were both
used as schools. After the building
was moved from the original site, it was still known as Walnut Grove Church or
School until the building was torn down and a new one built in its place.
Then it was known as the New School House.
Classes were held in the Walnut Grove School Building also known as the
New School House until the school consolidated with Hector in 1927.
The Walnut Grove Free Will Baptist Church of today incorporates the
original 20’ x 30’ building in its present structure.