A Visit to the Judd Cemetery: Cookeville, Tennessee

                                                “A nation divided against itself cannot stand…”

                                                        Abraham Lincoln

There is a cemetery in Cookeville, Tennessee called the “Judd Cemetery.”  It’s a quiet place. There used to be a church on the same grounds but it was long ago left idle. Eventually, termites got to it and it had to be demolished. There is a vacant spot where the building used to be. My second-great grandfather Matthias “Matt” Judd was a preacher of that church. The land that is now the cemetery used to be the farmstead of my family-the Judd family.  There was a tannery there too. Like most farms, it was once a place of screaming little children, fathers and sons working in the field, and animals moving about. But that’s all gone. Now the wind softy breezes through the tombstones which stand idle as testaments to lives that were once lived but live no longer. Now it’s a place for the dead. What was once a place to merely bury my Judd ancestors became a place to bury others-including friends and neighbors. They are welcome in there.

In the Judd cemetery, everyone there has no more divisions. All that separated them in life is over. Death– the great equalizer. There was a time in the nation’s history- and in my Judd family as well- that loved ones were torn apart. The great war of 1861 to 1865 would forever change loyalties. Each family member had to choose a side. Both sides were losers in the end. The Judd family was split. Andrew Jackson Judd had joined the Confederate army. Matt Judd joined the Union Army-the Blue and the Gray. Other Judds made their choices. When the war was over, those who survived the ordeal came home and tried to pick up the pieces.

Matt Judd came home partially physically broken. His service had taken it’s toll on his health. He would spend the remainder of his days going to doctors and trying to get approved for a pension. He became a traveling preacher. He started churches and raised his family. I don’t know if the Judds reconciled their differences. Loyalties died hard. This I do know: As I look across the landscape of the Judd Cemetery-and read the individual grave markers of my deceased Judd family members-I know that it doesn’t matter now. Matt Judd rests in his grave-his wife Polly at his side. The other Judds are there-including young Silas Judd- killed, as some say, by Confederate guerrillas. He was only 12 years old. And, yes, there are Confederate grave markers too. Yet, there’s no more talk of Lincoln and Davis. There are no discussions concerning slavery, state’s rights, and rebellion. The hurt that was caused in the hearts who bore the burden of that time-is vanquished.

People drive down the road that runs past the Judd Cemetery and don’t even notice it’s there. I had trouble finding it myself the very first time I went there. The old church bench was still sitting on the empty lot where the church used to be. I pulled a piece of it’s concrete loose and put it in my pocket. Then I sat down. I could see my grandpa Matt Judd come to join me. He walked like a crippled man but he didn’t complain. He was truly happy in the Lord. He started to tell me stories of the place and of the war. He told me that he never believed that the United States of America could split-and survive. He said he agreed with President Lincoln about the nation being divided against itself and not being able to stand. So after his little brother Silas got killed he joined the Yankee Tennessee Mounted Infantry. He also said with pride that he took time to marry Polly Bullington in ceremony in Nashville in 1864. Then he stared away into the graveyard and I saw him no more after that. Right before he left, he noticed an American Flag atop a pole nearby. I think when he saw that he knew he wasn’t needed there anymore-the nation did survive. And he had done his part to make it so. I salute you grandpa Judd. Good rest- all ye who lay in the Judd Cemetery-the nation is divided no longer…

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10 Responses to “A Visit to the Judd Cemetery: Cookeville, Tennessee”

  1. Cheryl Foley says:

    I have been researching my family also and I am related to Roxie Allen Judd she was married to Nathan Charles Judd. They are also buried at that cemetery. Wow Amy Collins Hayes we are cousins!

  2. Sude says:

    Don’t feel neglected! I’m here, redanig almost every day. I’m simply overwhelmed by all the ARCs stacked up around me. Honestly, I see two dozen, not to mention the library books I just had to borrow.

  3. Jimmy Bryant,

    My great great grandparents were also Madison and Ruth. My great grandparents were Eustace “Doc” Tidrow and Alice Ann Bell. I realize that your original post was several years ago, but you might still read this and find some help in the 1900 Adair County KY census. Madison is listed in the Glenville Precinct as “William”. He and his wife Ruthie Blair Bell had 6 children (at the time of the census).

    Bell, William Head W M Feb 1865
    Bell, Ruth B. Wife W F Sep 1867
    Bell, Alace Dau W F Jul 1884
    Bell, Sallie Dau W F Nov 1886
    Bell, Ella Dau W F Jul 1890
    Bell, Lougan Son W M Apr 1892
    Bell, Nora Dau W F Jun 1896
    Bell, Robert O. Son W M Sep 1898

    I hope this helps.

  4. Ray Kuykendall says:

    I have visited Judd Cemetery twice now. I found it through the find a grave site. My grandfather, great grandfather, and great grandmother are buried here, I never knew them because my grandfather died right after my father was born so he didn’t know them either. If any one knows anything about the Kuykendall family at Judd Cemetery I would love to learn about them and also there ties to Judd cemetery! Thank you!

  5. B. Nash says:

    Hi Amy:
    We are cousins. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. The cemetery is a very special place-and sacred, as far as I’m concerned. My thoughts are with you and yours.
    Fondly,
    Bill

  6. Amy Collins Hayes says:

    Hello, My mother is a Judd. Her name is Nellie Rachel Judd Collins McKinney. Her parents, Charles Nathan Judd and Roxie Allen Judd are buried at the cemetery…..as well as her grandparents Nathan Jackson Judd and many others ancestors. Tomorrow, October 10, 2014, we will be laying my Aunt Cynthia Ann Judd Gunter to rest among those who have gone on before us. Judd Cemetery is a part of my child-hood. We used to come on “Decoration Day” and place flowers on the graves of our family. My grandmother Roxie Judd would be with us and tell us stories of Grandpa. The church was a mystical place to explore when I was a child and it is sad that it no longer stands. It will a special day tomorrow to be among markers of my ancestors and take my aunt home.

  7. B. Nash says:

    Hello Jimmy:
    Thanks for checking out the Lincoln site! Unfortunately, I don’t have anything that could help you. Good luck in your searching!

  8. Jimmy Bryant says:

    I have several family members buried there.I am especially interested in my great great grandparents Madison t bell and Ruthe b bell that are buried there.I’ve been researching our tree. I know they came from kentucky and some were Cherokees. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated by me and my family. Thanks

  9. B. Nash says:

    Hello Tiffany. So far it doesn’t sound like it. I’m in the Judd line because my great grandfather Alvin Nash married Lena Judd. She was the daughter of Matthias Judd, Union soldier. Have you found him in your bloodline?

  10. Tiffany Judd Lawson says:

    I have been researching my family history and ran across your post. I have visited the Judd cemetary that you re speeking of. My Great Great Great grandmother was Thesalia Sparks Judd who was married to Rev. Nathaniel Jackson Judd. From the history of my family tjat I have been given. Elish Nash is the daughter of Cora Judd Nash. Is this the same Judd family you are speaking of

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