By Katy Mena
Community News Writer
The whereabouts of Smith Cemetery are unknown to most Hixson residents. Ask almost anyone, and receive nothing but a blank stare in return. A local burial ground for centuries, Smith Cemetery has met the fate of so many before, lost in an overgrown forest, but not forgotten by those with familial roots tied to those buried there.
It is this group of relatives with a long Hixson history that has made it their personal mission to resurrect Smith Cemetery from certain graveyard death. For some years now, James Eldridge, Chester, Will, and Jimmy Hutton, E.C., Edwin, and Bobby Harvey, and Bobby and George Berry have paid their frequent respects to the overgrown cemetery off of Hamill Road, clearing brush from the mossy headstones.
“When everybody else wasn’t doing it, they were here,” said Vickie King, who has recently joined the clean-up effort, along with her parents, Juene and Floyd Ashley, and Francis Mullinax. “We have relatives here,” said Mrs. Ashley. “It needed to be done.”
High weeds and persistent kudzu haven’t been the only challenges for the cemetery crusaders. Simply getting to the burial ground to do their job is a life-threatening task, thanks to surrounding subdivisions that have edged out adequate parking areas for cemetery-goers. City engineer Steve Malone has been alerted about the need for ample space to stow cars. The group is hopefully awaiting good news. “Right now we don’t have a way to get into these cemeteries,” said Mrs. King, frustrated about the situation at hand.
Nevertheless, the intent clean-up crew will report for duty until their mission is accomplished. Slowly but surely, they are seeing the fruits of their labor unfold. Mowing and clearing gravestone by gravestone, they are committed to giving the since-departed their deserved respect.
E-mail Katy Mena at firstname.lastname@example.org