A historic, partially abandoned cemetery near Bell Buckle may be receiving new life soon.
Church Cross Cemetery, on the grounds of the long-closed Cross Roads Church of Christ at the intersection of Church Cross Road and Coop Road west of Bell Buckle, today lies in partial abandonment, with tombstones largely dating to the 1800s surrounded by overgrown grass and brush in many areas.
The remains of many pioneer residents of northeastern Bedford County rest on the grounds
Brooke Smith-Sanders, whose farm is near the cemetery, is spearheading an effort to cut grass, remove brush, and generally renew the cemetery.
“We hope to restore this historic site and give it the dignity it deserves and desperately needs.,” Smith said. “This is a treasured site for our area and entire county.
Parts of the cemetery, including the portion where her father Jimmy Smith was buried in 2020, are well-kept. Older portions, especially where descendants likely left Bedford County many years ago, are in disrepair. Tombstones, only some which are legible, are leaning and/or broken.
One portion contains no tombstones, but Smith-Sanders and Eric Maddox, who is working with her on the project, say they think people are buried in that area.
“These are people buried here. They deserve more respect,” said Maddox, a District 1 member of the Bedford County Commission, who also lives nearby.
Deputy Jared Featherstone of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, a member of a longtime Bell Buckle-area family, is also working with Smith-Sanders and Maddox.
Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation is also working on the project.
A work day will be scheduled in the near future to clean the cemetery, Smith-Sanders said.
Smith-Sanders can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 931-703-9532. See the church and cemetery’s Facebook page at “Cross Roads Church of Christ and Cemetery.”