Today after work, I stopped by Old Salem Cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee to check in on an old friend. I’m sure it sounds weird–maybe even a bit morbid–but I make a point now and then to visit one of the oldest cemeteries in Madison County and walk to the graves of Adam Huntsman and his three wives.
Writers sometimes become attached to their subjects; for me, it’s the peg-legged politician most famous for defeating David Crockett for Congress in 1835, a loss that sent the fabled frontiersman to Texas and Disney glory. He led an interesting life as a frontier lawyer and public servant with an eccentric personality and a wit for political satire. He was a bachelor for the first thirty-five years of his life, yet spent the last twenty-eight years with three different wives!
For many years, their graves were neglected and forgotten. Teenagers used the cemetery as a place to party, littering the ground with beer bottles and trash, and using tombstones for target practice and broken ones for traction to get their vehicles out of the mud.
Thankfully, Old Salem Cemetery is once again treated with dignity and respect. For the past fourteen years, it has been maintained by Malcolm Wilcox and the John B. Ingram Camp 219 chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Focusing on its role in a minor battle between Union forces and the Confederate cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest on December 19, 1862, they have turned it into a modest tourist attraction for Civil War buffs. The grass is now mowed and the grounds cleaned of any debris. There is a metal barricade that keeps anyone from driving close to the cemetery.
A tip of the hat to Mr. Wilcox and the men of Camp 219: thank you for taking care of this part of local history. I’m sure Mr. Huntsman would be pleased.