THE BURIAL SAGA
OF LYDIA ELIZA POLK
SISTER OF PRESIDENT JAMES K. POLK
CEMETERY INSCRIPTIONS & NOTES ~ Vol. No. 1
NORTHWESTERN HARDMAN COUNTY TENNESSEE
by OWENS ~ DAVIDSON ~ COX
FROM THE NIGHT DESK OF THE MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
February 6, 1957
What are the facts in the story about a sister of President James K. Polk being buried in Haywood County, contrary to her instructions?
This is a strange story which has attracted the researching abilities of Seale Johnson of Jackson, Roy Black of Bolivar and A.H. Gray of Brownsville. They are still hoping for help.
James K. Polk was the oldest of 10 children. The third of the 10 was Lydia Eliza Polk who married Dr. Silas W. Caldwell. Her second husband was Edmond Richmondą. She was wealthy in farm land in southern Haywood County. A clause in her will, dated December 21, 1860, says, "I want my body buried in the Polk Cemetery, at or near Bolivar."
The tradition is when she died, soon after the Civil War˛, the roads were too bad to get her from Haywood County to Bolivar. So she was buried in a farm cemetery and reburial was planned when the roads were dry.
But the rumor is that the executor and relatives allowed the temporary burial to become permanent.
There has been some discussion of using a mine detector to find the burial place since Negroes of the community have a tradition that she was buried in a cast iron casket.
She considered her burial to be of importance since she made it the first item of her will. Perhaps her instructions will be carried out even if it is almost a century late.
Her will mentions gold watches, silver plates, slaves, cash for complete education of grandchildren and land. She even specified use of $400 to buy a good piano and guitar for a granddaughter. It is probable that her property was greatly decreased by the war. At least her own burial plans seem to have been replaced by an unknown grave. In the cemetery at Bolivar a visitor can find the graves of both her husbands. Between them is an empty space.
This item has been provided by ROBERT H. HARALSON JR.
Ed. Note: Some records indicate Lydia's second husband was Edward Richardsoną and she died in 1864˛. Born 1800 - died 1864.
In addition ROBERT contributes to the Saga, from his summers in Dancyville:
In the 1930's, I spent summer vacations with my grandmother, Mrs. Hattie Rogers Philips, in Dancyville. My uncle, Rudolph 'Doc' Clark was the owner of a general merchandise store at the crossroads. As a small boy, I spent many hours with my Uncle Doc, who was very generous with his candy.
One summer Uncle Doc became involved in a controversy which I didn't fully understand at the time. It concerned the destruction of a family cemetery north of Dancyville on the Brownsville highway. I recall that someone with a bulldozer pushed the markers and gravesł into a ditch. The reason for his concern was that one of the graves was that of a sister of James K. Polk, a past President of the United States. Doc went to see a lawyer, whose name was Gray, in Brownsville. Perry Rogers went with him. The lawyer seemed interested but not to the extent of prosecution, and the matter was dropped.
Doc and Perry's concern may have stemmed from the fact that they were descendants of Margaret Polk McRee, a sister of the president's grandfather, Ezekiel Polk of Bolivar, Tennessee.
Robert H. Haralson Jr.
łEditors Note: Some believe Lydia Polk's grave is in a field, near the pumping station, going from Dancyville to Brownsville
As a 'side bar' to his Dancyville visits, Robert States:
Somewhere, at sometime in conversation, I vaguely remember the following comment concerning the Dancyville Methodist Church:
" In the early days, after the organization of the Dancyville Methodist Church, some residents of the Dancyville Community complained that they could not sleep because of the ' shouting Methodist on the hill..They wanted it stopped... and right away!"
Editors' note: This isn't the first time we have read about the spirit aroused by the Methodist on the hill.
We greatly appreciate Robert sharing the Polk Article and his own Dancyville remembrances.
GO HERE for the Mrs. Lydia Richmond Saga ~ Section 2
BACK TO WHAT'S NEW
BACK TO INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY PROFILES
BACK TO HOME PAGE
BACK TO HISTORICAL DANCYVILLE INDEX