Advocating for Nolensville Cemeteries

by Michelle W. Jenkins

The Nolensville Historical Society Museum Crew has been gathering, researching, and updating information on Nolensville’s cemeteries for genealogy purposes and visitor inquiries, but most importantly, to archive for future generations. Much like life and death, the Town, too, changes with time, often posing threats to our cemeteries. Over time, property changes hands, and the information can also change. We would like to note that all of Nolensville Cemeteries are on the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s 2023 Sites to Save list. 

The Museum Crew began another phase of the Nolensville cemetery project with the Goodrum – Bittick Cemetery: a beautiful, quaint, historic four-wall dry-stacked stone cemetery for two: Allen Goodrum and his wife, Elizabeth Frazier Goodrum Bittick. This cemetery is located at the southwest corner of Burke Hollow and Clovercroft roads. Just like other changes, so did the walls. The walls needed repairs. The weeds need weeding. The fire ants, ticks, and other pests needed to find another place to live. The Cemetery needed love and attention. 

Thanks go to many, but most especially to community members Chris (Christina) Minard and her son Mike Minard and Taphophile James Allen Gooch of Rutherford County and Nolensville Historical Societies. Chris not only helped purchase a new sign, but she was the liaison between the Nolensville Museum Crew, Mike, and his business crew. Michael’s crew repaired the dry-stacked stone wall, contributed to maintenance, and added a missing headstone for Allen Goodrum. James Allen made several trips to the cemetery, helping with the vegetation and fire ants. But most importantly, he probed the area to confirm the unmarked grave, which is highly beneficial to the research. 

Elizabeth “Betsy” Frazier first married Allen Goodrum in 1812. He died in 1822. Per his will dated October 5, 1821, they had four children: Anderson J, Thomas H., James A. and Jane Eliza. She then married Samuel Francis Bittick in 1824. According to his will, he and Elizabeth had at least five children. He died in 1853. She died in 1862 and was buried next to her first husband, Allen, in the Goodrum-Bittick Cemetery. 

Her second husband, Samuel Francis Bittick, Jr., was buried in the community cemetery at that time, near the original Methodist church site. Samuel and John Hay gave two acres of land for the church, located “atop the high hill.” The cemetery was often referred to as the “Mt. Olivet Cemetery,” although it had no official connection with the Church other than the location. The cemetery has been known as the Old Mt. Olivet Cemetery, the Waggoner Cemetery, and the Nolensville Road Cemetery. 

Allen Goodrum was born in 1788 in Brunswick, Columbus County, NC. He kept an ordinary in Nolensville, holding a license with Williamson County, TN, in 1821. Note: Allen purchased the land from William Nolen, our Town’s founder.

Samuel Francis Bittick was born in North Carolina in 1790. He became a Nolensville Commissioner and marked corporation limits for the city in 1839. In 1850, Bittick was a charter member of the Nolensville Female Academy. He was also a shareholder in the Nolensville Turnpike. The Nolensville United Methodist Church, the current and third location at the corner of Nolensville Park and Nolensville Roads, was organized in 1837. The first site of the church, originally known as Mount Olivet Methodist Episcopal Church South, was located about one mile off US 31-41A on Williams Road on land donated by Bittick and Hay. Bittick had purchased part of a land grant in 1836. This remained the home of Mt. Olivet until 1858, when a new location was sought. The deed from William Bittick to the Trustees of Mount Olivet Methodist Church South is dated April 7, 1858, for three acres of land on the Nolensville Turnpike. This cemetery plot of one-half acre was set aside as a graveyard for the public and mentioned as such in the deed from James M. Green to Samuel F. Bittick on January 16, 1847. 

Working together, we were able to stabilize the historic wall, add a headstone, erect a new sign, clean up the cemetery, and gather lots of research to reach our goal. Quoting James Allen’s business card, “Preserving our history one cemetery at a time. Respecting our ancestors one grave at a time.” The Nolensville Museum Crew plans to continue advocating for all of Nolensville’s cemeteries one cemetery at a time. 

For volunteer opportunities and more information regarding this article, please contact the Nolensville Historical Society.

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