Katie Blevins Cemetery, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee
Katie Blevins Cemetery, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Located on what used to be one of the main roads between Oneida and Jamestown, the Katie Blevins Cemetery contains the graves of some of the first European families to call the region home. Now located on National Park Service land, the location is honored every year during the annual Decoration Day event.

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Jacob and Katie Blevins had several children and were married in 1834 in nearby Kentucky. Jacob was the son of pioneer and settler Jonathan Blevins and Catherine “Katy” Troxell Blevins, who is known for being the daughter of regionally famous “Big Jake” Troxell. The couple lived in the Big South Fork region their entire life.

One day, Jacob Blevins was walking along the side of the road with his wife Katie when he stopped amongst the grassy pasture to mark a spot on the ground with a large stick. He turned to Katie and said, “this is where I want to be buried”. So, a short time later when Jacob passed away in 1868, his body was laid to rest at that exact spot.

However, Jacob was not the first person to be buried at this site despite it being named “Katie Blevins Cemetery”. The sign above the entrance to the grounds states that it was established in 1812. There are many graves in the location that are simply marked with fieldstones so it is difficult to determine exactly who is buried in each gravesite and when they were buried.

The Blevins family were some of the first white settlers in the Big South Fork region along with the Slavens. Over the years, numerous members of both families were buried in the Katie Blevins Cemetery. The cemetery is likely named after Katie Blevins for her significant role in the area and a member of the founding families.

Today, the cemetery is the location of over 150 graves and is honored by the National Park Service each year with an annual Decoration Day. Traditionally in Appalachian communities, families would travel out to cemeteries to clean and decorate their relatives graves. They would leave personal mementos or other small trinkets as a symbol of keeping their relatives memory alive. There would also typically be a sermon, singing and even a picnic, similar to Mexican cultures “Day of the Dead”.

Katie Blevins Cemetery, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Katie Blevins Cemetery, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Plan Your Visit

The Katie Blevins Cemetery is located in Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. The cemetery is adjacent to the Lora Blevins Homestead site near the Bandy Creek Visitor Center.

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