The first thing that intrigued me about this cemetery were two gravestones which are said to have been carved by the decedents’ son. They are unique in that the faces of his parents are carved into the back of each tombstone – the primitive art is striking.
Thomas and Elizabeth Warren Lawson are both buried in the Lawson Cemetery in Hickman County, Tennessee, along with several other Lawsons and Warrens (Elizabeth’s maiden name). Elizabeth died on September 7, 1883 and Thomas died shortly thereafter on December 21, 1883. According to various sources, their oldest son, Shadrach Warren, carved their headstones. The hand prints on the back of Thomas’ stone are said to be the hand prints of his grandchildren, Shadrach’s children, Callie Leona, Etta Lou and Lillie Eveline. The stones were carved from grindstone taken from Grindstone Hollow near Hassell’s Creek.
According to Thomas’ obituary he was born in Orange County, North Carolina on May 22, 1809. On December 12, 1814, his father James (mother Jurutha Parker) migrated to Tennessee and settled in Bedford County, Tennessee before moving to Defeated Creek in Hickman County in February of 1818. Thomas married Elizabeth Warren (b. 1812) on March 25, 1830 and their first son Shadrach Warren was born on December 11, 1830. Their eldest daughter, Nancy, was born in 1832.
In 1833 the Thomas Lawson family moved to Maury County where children Dilcey (1837), William (1839) and Tacena (1841) were born. One source listed twin girls who were born in 1842 and died in 1843, Isobella and Sarah. I found a family story at Ancestry.com that indicates that the girls were born en route to Hickman County when one died and is buried in Kellough Cemetery in Hickman County (no record at Find-A-Grave). The other twin died later and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Lawson Cemetery.
The family’s final move occurred in March 1843 when they settled at Hassell’s Creek in Hickman County. Children James (1844), John Thomas (1846), Margaret (1849 or 1850), Joseph (1851), Francis (1853) and Lucy Ann Tennessee (1858) were born at Hassell’s Creek. All census records from 1850 through 1880 verify the approximate birth dates of all the children.
Thomas Lawson was a farmer and continued to farm until the last census in 1880. In 1886, the Hickman Pioneer mentioned:
Old Uncle Tommy Lawson raised a few peanuts for table use and for the boys to get when they went out hunting at night. They gave the old man a great deal of trouble about his peas.
His children, Nancy (49) and Margaret (28), neither of whom ever married, were living with their parents in 1880. At the time of Thomas and Elizabeth’s deaths they had eleven living children. Thomas’ obituary indicates that he was a consistent member of the Methodist Church who died in his right mind.
Various sources indicate that Shadrach was crippled (he was still living with his parents in 1860 at the age of 29), a Methodist minister, school teacher, blacksmith and farmer. Interestingly, though, I found a note on the 1860 census at the end of William’s record which said “can’t walk” – so perhaps William (who went by “Bud”) was the crippled child of Thomas and Elizabeth (or the notation was misplaced on the page). William never married either.
Shadrach married Winnie Warren on July 4, 1865. Elizabeth Lawson’s maiden name was Warren and her father was Samuel Houston Warren – his son William was Winnie’s father, so Shadrach and Winnie were first cousins. Tacena married Cornelius Warren who appears to be a first cousin (same grandfather, William Council Warren who was Samuel Houston Warren’s father). Dilcey married James Anse Warren, her first cousin. Lucy Ann married Robert Green, whose mother’s maiden name was Warren. Ancestry.com lists several Tennessee records over the years of Lawson and Warren marriages.
It appears that all of the children of Thomas and Elizabeth remained in Hickman County with the exception of Joseph (Joe) who was enumerated in Fannin County, Texas in 1910, and James who lived and died in Loudon County, Tennessee in 1910. Thomas and Elizabeth’s children buried in the Lawson Cemetery include: Shadrach, Lucy Ann, John Thomas, Margaret, Nancy, William (“Uncle Bud”), Dilcey and Tacena. Francis remained in Hickman County, but is buried elsewhere. One family story relates that Shadrach’s son, John Thomas (1866-1890), was also a school teacher who was buried with a “winding sheet” because his body had burst. He is also buried in Lawson Cemetery.
Other surnames in the cemetery are Ardry, Barnhill, Byrd, Dunn, Green, Hammonds, Hudspeth, Murrell, Roach and Warren – the majority appear to be closely related to either the Lawsons or Warrens. Lawson Cemetery is very much a “cousins cemetery”.
Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!