Trips to Polk County And Other East Tennessee Locations
By Robert Moore
Updated: April 2014
Click on the highlighted text for more information about the referenced locations.
On Wednesday April 20, 2011 brother Thomas Risden Moore and I left South Pittsburg, TN headed for Polk County, TN for a visit to our ancestral home. On the way we stopped in Red Bank, TN to pick up our cousin Bob Rhodes. We met with Bob, his wife Peggy, and daughter Allison at their home in Red Bank, TN. As always we were immediately made to feel at home. Bob had made a packet of information on the cemeteries that we planned to visit. We had breakfast at Lillie Mae's Restaurant in Red Bank. Our niece, Linda Hilliard, joined us (and more importantly, paid for breakfast).
We then drove to the home of Brenda Schwall in Chattanooga, TN. Brenda is a renowned authority on the Mantooth and Hilliard families. She has been studying these families for over 30 years and has published several books containing information about them. Brenda is a very gracious lady, and spent an hour discussing our ancestors. She answered several question we had about the families.
Aerial view of Polk County, Tennessee looking
northward up the Tennessee Valley. Georgia is in the center bottom & the
mountains of Eastern Tennessee & Western North Carolina are on the right. The "A" is the location of the Mantooth Family Cemetery.
Aerial view of J. Wilson Road leading to the Mantooth Family Cemetery
As a note of interest, this photo looks as if it
could have been taken in Polk County. It was actually taken near Aberfoyle,
Aberfoyle is near the Lake Monteith area and is where the Mantooth/Monteith family came from. Looking at this makes it pretty
easy to understand why the Mantooths migrated to the region. It was in their blood to settle in those East Tennessee mountains.
We departed the Chattanooga area around noon.
Around 1PM we arrived in the Old Fort,
TN area of Polk County. To say the roads were rural is a gross
understatement. The farther we progressed into the very hilly area, the bumpier
and narrower the roads became. After searching in vain for nearly an hour for
the Mantooth Family cemetery, we finally came across some folks at a house.
They did not know where the cemetery was; but directed us to a residence with
someone who presumably did know. Risden offered a little girl there some candy
he had in a bag. She grabbed a handful and ran. The husband also took several
pieces, supposedly for the little girl. Risden figured she would never see the
pieces he took. We found the residence, and the lady there directed us to a
mobile home stuck up on a hillside. She gave us somewhat vague directions to
Upon finding the trailer we were greeted by a couple of the ugliest dogs imaginable. We left the safety of the truck reluctantly, and made our way past the growling, barking dogs and through the backyard into the woods. There was not really even a trail to follow. We just waded through the woods and underbrush and up the sharp incline of a hill. As we approached the top of the hill we spotted the tombstones of the Mantooth Family Cemetery. The first thing we could see was the red and blue of a Confederate flag which had been placed on Doctor Hugh Mantooth's grave. He was a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. The cemetery is in very bad condition. It shows no recent signs of care. Many small trees have grown up throughout the cemetery, and high grass and undergrowth cover it. One tree has fallen, damaging one or more headstones. Reportedly there are around 50 graves in the cemetery. Only a few graves have headstones. Many have only a rock stuck in the ground, or no marker at all. Most, if not all graves here, are Mantooth's or folks related to them. In addition to Doctor (not an MD, his name was Doctor) and his wives, there is a headstone for Samuel and Leitha Mantooth. Of course Samuel was the patriarch of the Mantooth family in Polk County. Calvin Mantooth, Samuel's oldest son, and his wife Melvinia Harvey Mantooth are buried in this cemetery; but there are no headstones for them. Calvin is our great great grandfather, the father of Margaret Jane Mantooth Hilliard. We took pictures and waded through the underbrush of the cemetery to get the feel of the area. The idea of being amid so much family history was awesome. We headed back down the hill, and safely made our way past the dogs to our vehicle.
Risden Moore and Bob Rhodes at the Mantooth Family Cemetery in Polk County, Tennessee
Risden and Robert Moore at the Mantooth Family Cemetery in Polk County, Tennessee
Our next stop was the Ball Play cemetery. This cemetery is in excellent condition. Many Hilliards and Mantooths are buried there. We spent quite a while going through the cemetery reading the inscriptions on the headstones. Some of our great grandmother's siblings are buried there. It was quite an experience.
Ball Play Cemetery Polk County, TN
We elected to not visit the Old Fort Cemetery since it is somewhat remote, and reportedly has very few markers. It is a reasonable bet that Mark Wesley Hilliard is buried there along with the father of his second wife, Ann Ford. And it was beginning to look like rain, so we needed to hurry our visit.
Next we visited the Antioch Cemetery. There are several Hilliards and Mantooths buried here. The cemetery is also in very good condition.
Antioch Cemetery Polk County, TN
We visited the Dill Cemetery next. Again, there were several Hilliards and Mantooths buried here. It was also in reasonably good condition.
Dill Cemetery Polk County, TN
Lastly we visited the Cumberland Shed Cemetery. Another of our great grandmother's siblings is buried here. This cemetery is in very good condition.
Cumberland Shed Cemetery Polk County, TN
Hugh Mantooth - brother of Margaret Jane Mantooth Hilliard Faller.
By the time we finished at this last cemetery it was getting late; so we headed back toward home. We met Peggy Rhodes at a nice restaurant in Red Bank and ate a good supper. Afterwards we headed back to South Pittsburg.
We had a wonderful and fulfilling time on this visit. Both Risden and I have stated that we would very much like to go back now that we know where most everything is. We would like to spend more time at each location. I'm sure there are other places in Polk County that we would enjoy visiting . We did not visit any of the Ocoee water impoundments which are reputed to be very beautiful. But mostly we would just like to cruise the country roads and envision our ancestors living and laboring in these same areas long ago.
Second & Third Trips to Polk County
Risden & I made a trip to Polk County, TN on June 21, 2011 and made contact with the director of the Polk County Historical Society, which is located in Benton, TN., via a phone call. She agreed to have a headstone erected in the Mantooth Family Cemetery for Calvin & Melvina Mantooth. The price was incredibly low. She also will try to contact some of the Mantooth family to get the cemetery cleaned up.
At the request of our cousin, Bob Rhodes, we made another trip to Polk County, TN on July 1, 2011. We met personally with the director of the Society, Mrs. Marion Presswood, and solidified our agreement concerning the headstone. Mrs. Presswood was extremely helpful. We also visited the Old Fort Cemetery where Mark Wesley Hilliard, George W. Hilliard's father, is almost certainly buried. There is no headstone there for him, and the cemetery has been completely abandoned. It is beyond repair. Only a few headstones remain, and the entire site is overgrown with brush and trees. It has also become a dumping ground for used tires and other junk.
When we returned to Chattanooga our niece Linda took us on a tour of the Chattanooga Memorial Park Cemetery. We visited the graves of Jeff & Ruthy Barns Hilliard, Casper & Otsie Hilliard Van Allman, Belle Hilliard Hudson Cagle, John Wesley Hilliard, and Linda's Mother Lillie Mae Hilliard Graham.
After conferring with Bob Rhodes, we have decided to place a headstone in Patton Cemetery for our great grandfather George Wesley Hilliard. This will be placed near his wife, and mother of his 12 children, Margaret Jane Mantooth Hilliard Faller. We will continue to look for his actual burial place which may or may not be in Bradley County near Cleveland, TN. We plan to place this headstone this fall. Even if we find his actual burial place, we plan to leave the headstone in Patton Cemetery. We will place another tombstone at the actual site should we ever find it.
Fourth Trip to Polk County
Risden, Bob Rhodes, and I made another trip to Polk County on November 9, 2011. We went directly to the Mantooth Family Cemetery. The folks who made and installed the headstone for Calvin and Melvina Mantooth did a great job. Risden had earlier sent funds for some clean up of the cemetery. A little work had been done, and the portion of the cemetery where most of our direct ancestors are buried looks much better. A fallen tree had been cut up and most of it removed. We visited with Mrs. Marion Presswood of the Polk County Historical Society in Benton, TN, and expressed our gratitude for the assistance she has provided to us.
Calvin and Melvina "Vinny: Mantooth
Bob Rhodes and Risden Moore at the Mantooth Family Cemetery
The lady with Bob and Risden is Marion Presswood with the Polk County Historical Society.
April 2013 Visit
In April of 2013 brother Risden and I decided to make a trip to where many of our Moore ancestors were born. Many of the descendants of Thomas Smith Moore, our grandfather, were born in Rhea and Meigs Counties in East Tennessee. Risden had made the trip along with our father in 1952. We followed the route he took as closely as possible taking Tennessee Highway 28 through Whitwell and Dunlap, Tennessee, then crossing the mountain on Tennessee 111 to US route 27, then going northward to Dayton, Tennessee. We then took Tennessee Highway 60 (The Hiwasee Highway), and crossed the Tennessee River into Meigs County, Tennessee. Our route.
Although our father always said he was born in Rhea County, this is highly unlikely. Research shows that the T.V. Moore family almost certainly lived across the river in Meigs County, Tennessee when he was born. His older brother George C. Moore stated on his delayed birth certificate that he was born near Birchwood, Tennessee which straddles the line between Hamilton and Meigs Counties, Tennessee. Our father was born in 1897, and the 1900 Census shows the family living in District 2 of Meigs County which is very near Birchwood, Tennessee.
We turned north off highway 60 and found the old Blythe Ferry road which parallels the Hiwasee River. The ferry is no longer there; but Risden remembers crossing the Tennessee River on it when he made the trip. Although I was aware that a park existed near the eastern site of the old ferry, we were not prepared for what we found. There is a beautiful park there commemorating the Cherokee Indian Removal, also known as "The Trail of Tears". Many of the Indians camped near on the banks of the Tennessee for several weeks awaiting supplies and making plans to cross the river.
A short walk up a gravel path takes you to area on the banks of the Tennessee River overlooking the convergence of the Hiwasee River into the Tennessee River.
We then drove eastward along the old Blythe Ferry road on which Risden surely took our Father those many years ago. Even at that time the old house, where Daddy had lived as a boy, was gone. Even though he could not remember the exact spot Daddy showed him, we certainly passed within a few yards of the location.
We decided to return to South Pittsburg, Tennessee via highway US 27 and Interstate 24. We considered the trip entirely successful. Our route home.
April 16, 2014 Trips
Risden and I made a trip to the Mantooth Family Cemetery to check on its condition. Bob Rhodes was unable to make the trip with us due to personal reasons. We found the cemetery in poor condition. Small bushes and a profusion of weeds have grow up throughout the cemetery. There is no evidence that anyone has visited the cemetery since we were there last year.
We had weed eaters with us which had been equipped with metal brush cutting blades, and were able to clear a great deal of the Mantooth portion of the cemetery. The rest of the cemetery is in even worse condition; but we were unable to work on it. There was some kind of altercation between the residents of an house adjacent to the cemetery that seemed to be getting out of hand. So we decided that we had better leave lest we become involved in the fracas.
We feel that a couple of visit with the weed eaters during the summer will likely keep the cemetery in descent condition. We will also probably try spraying some of the area with weed killer next month.
In my research of our family over the past few months, I have located some more of our kinfolk. I found out what happened to Daddy's sister, Anna Bell (Annie) Moore Wright, her husband and her children. I was also able to find the gravesite of a close 1st cousin of Daddy's, Lee Moore.
Great Uncle William H. (Bill) Moore's son Lee Moore used to visit us in South Pittsburg, TN with his daughter Dorothy Louise. Earlier I had found Lee living with his father in the Skyline Project in Northern Jackson County, AL in the 1940 census. I had trouble finding what happened to him after he quit visiting us. That was probably in the middle 1950s. I eventually found that he had moved back to Tennessee where he farmed for several years. He was buried in the McDonald East View Cemetery in rural Hamilton County, TN north of Ooltewah. This is a large very nice cemetery which is well kept. Lee's actual name was Leander; but somewhere during his 89 years it became Lee Ander.
Lee Moore Headstone McDonald East View Cemetery
Aunt Annie, Uncle Will, their daughter Mary Gladys Wright Williamson, their son Tomas and his wife are buried not far from Lee's resting place in the Williamson Cemetery. The cemetery is on private property and is exceptionally nice and well kept.
Will & Annie Moore Wright Williamson Cemetery, Hamilton County, TN
Mary Gladys Wright Williamson at Williamson Cemetery, Hamilton County, TN
Thomas & Vivian Johnson Wright Williamson Cemetery, Hamilton County, TN
After leaving those cemeteries we decided to visit the Chattanooga National Cemetery where our brother Joe Moore is buried. The gravesite was in perfect condition as usual. We were somewhat apprehensive in our visit; because there had been some grass fires in the cemetery that had marred some headstones. Joe's stone was not one of those.
While we were at the cemetery we decided to find the burial plot of another of Aunt Annie Moore Wright's sons; Alvin Lee Moore. We were able to find it, and it too was in perfect condition. Alvin's wife Alice is buried in the same plot.
Alvin Lee Wright Chattanooga National Cemetery Alice Wright Chattanooga National Cemetery
A few months ago I found information on Aunt Annie's youngest child, Erma Lee Wright. Unfortunately I discovered that she had died last year and is buried south of Atlanta, near Jonesboro, GA in the Sherwood Memorial Gardens.
After discovering where Aunt Annie, Tom, Mary Gladys, Alvin, and Erma Lee are buried, Risden and I feel that we have fulfilled our obligation to Our Uncle Bud Moore; who instigated our ancestor search when he asked us to find out what happened to her family.
We intend to continue our search for our ancestors and kinfolk as long as our health permits.