Thursday, October 31, 2013


                                        This home dates all the way back to the pioneer days of settlers coming into southern Tennessee. Joseph Roark settled in the area in 1835, and became a major landowner of what was then Cherokee native wilderness. The Roark family made this their home for four generations. The family had farmed the land of over 1000 acres, and helped cultivate the south into better agriculture economy. I appreciate the Roark family for keeping the homestead intact, as it is so rare with the growing gentrification in the area. What stories can those walls tell? Hopefully mostly ones of happiness, in a time where it was both brave and ambitious to come into an unknown territory inhabited by Cherokee.


I have found very little information about the history of Salem Baptist Church, except for what is said on the marker. This site where the Church once stood was wilderness Indian Territory, and their history proceeds the European colonization of the area. The native Americans, ancestors to the Cherokee who walked the Trail of Tears once called this their home. Do the spirits mourn their children here? Hopeless souls that cry out WHY, in anguish over their tribes loss? 

The site has a very serene landscape, but has seen death and struggle that echoes from the conflict of brotherhood in this nation's Civil War. Salem Baptist Church was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and the soldiers that passed away there are forgotten from a time we have put behind us. Do the soldiers haunt this area? The field, the hills, and the trees might whisper tales if you listen.
It is unknown to me why this church no longer stands. If I find out any information, I will update this. Centuries of history claims this site, of dark despair & healing, of holy sacramental worship, and of native tribal mysteries. Look for yourself, in light or night ~ 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abandoned Church of Serpent Handling

Take a drive into the outskirts of Chattanooga, TN into a small farming community of old called Birchwood. I grew up near this place, after it had been made into a suburban rural area, but here and there is scattered places of the past long forgotten. This abandoned church as you see on the sign is called, The Dolly Pond Church In Jesus Name, With Signs Following. It seems like kind of a long name for a small church like this, but the signs following are the bigger picture of what was practiced inside. The practices of the members of this church were serpent handlers. More accurately, Rattlesnake handlers. They believed that their faith in God and Jesus was so powerful that they would hold dangerously poisoning snakes with their bare hands as a testament that faith in God would always protect you. Everything else you see here is a mystery to me as much as it is to you. I do not know how long this church has been there for, but I do know that as you can see, there is an outhouse located in the back, now overgrown with vines and trees. The other photo is a yellow church pew cast away outside of the church, now part of the habitat. The strange cult-like people that used this church locked their secrets away inside this place, but can only be peeked at through a few windows. Inside I saw an old organ, some posters with what looked like Bible scripture painted on it, and furnishings such as chairs turned over on its sides. Why hasn't this place been torn down? What happened here to have it be abandoned abruptly to leave all of the remnants of this church locked up within those wooden walls. There is not a way inside, except if you break a window, but I don't think I would like to get caught breaking this church's window. Let the ghosts stay locked behind that door.

Cofer Cemetery (A Grave of Unknown Children, Prisoners, and Lunatics)

Nestled on the top of a hill which was once known as Potter's Field located in Chattanooga, TN is this small
 cemetery with an unusual past. The cemetery was officially opened in the year 1933 as Hamilton County Memorial Park later to be dedicated to Ruth Cofer in 1974 and renamed Cofer Cemetery. At first glance, it seems like most older cemeteries from the last two centuries, with old and weather worn gravestones. One thing sets them apart tho, and that is that the graves located nearer to the entrance of the cemetery have no names inscribed on the stone. Chiseled into the cement stone, is a single numerical digit. The area out there with the very small, numbered-only stones are the children victims of an early 1900's plague that swept the city.  Some of these stones have become removed (presumably due to vandalism) over the years, and someone has lined all the loose ones on the ground into the shape of a cross (as shown in one of the photos below). It really disturbs me that the children who suffered from the outbreak of tuberculosis were put into a mass grave without the dignity of a name they deserved. As a cemetery for the indigent, 212 recorded burials include past prisoners of Silver Dale. Others buried here from the early 1900's were patients of Pine Breeze Sanitarium, who were found of unsound mind, and were labeled in the day as lunatics. One of the most bizarre histories of this cemetery dates back to May 5, 1911 when a grand jury visited as then known Potters Field only to discover exposed graves and bones lying around on ground  surface. This is indeed a place of buried mysteries, secrets, and an eerie history.