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 Hector.


     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.

      Men 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 Street, 


    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. 


     Camp meetings, homecomings and decorations are important parts of the history of Walnut Grove Cemetery.  Camp meetings were a major homecoming event for early families in the area.  Stories are told of long lines of buggies, wagons, and later cars lining the sides of the road leading to the cemetery and pavilion.  People would cook for a week for the event and many people planned their vacations around Memorial Day.  These camp meetings were discontinued in the 1940’s.  Today we have the decoration and accompanying service on the Sunday before Memorial Day each year.  There will be a guest speaker, special singing, cemetery reports and donations will be accepted for the cemetery upkeep.




Last changed: August 6, 2011