Dresden, Tennessee – Connecting with my Ancestral Roots

Dresden - SignI love writing and telling stores, so I was excited to do my post today. However, it also made me feel a little sad, as my grandma was very special and important to me. I will never stop missing her 🙁  However, today I want share my visit to Dresden, Tennessee. For those you don’t know where it is (not many probably do), it’s a little tiny city in northwest Tennessee between Nashville and Memphis. Not only is this the birthplace of my wonderful grandma, but also the final resting place of her parents, my great grandparents, one of her sons, and her sister. While it was an emotional trip on many levels, it was also a wonderful visit.

Dresden-1Like I said, my grandma was born in Dresden in 1911 and sadly lost her mother when she was only 16 months old. It was so sad that she never even got to know her mom, and my mom never knew her grandma. I can’t imagine what it was like for the whole family losing a mother, wife, and daughter or a barely year old baby. Tragic, but sadly I guess it wasn’t too uncommon in those days.

Dresden-Ralston CemeteryWell, my part of the story begins when I started doing some genealogy in 2012. I had wanted to find out more about both sides of my family. My grandma passed in 1998 and I only had memories and stories that my mom remembers. Man, I wish I had been more curious before she passed away  🙁  As far as my father’s side, he passed in 2000, but I knew almost nothing about my father’s side of the family except a few names. I was excited to start searching my genealogy and see where my journey would lead me. At one point it led me to this cemetery above.

Dresden-HeadstoneTo make the passing of my great-grandma even sadder, I found out that she passed away on Valentine’s Day of 1913. I realized that the following year it would be exactly 100 years since my great-grandma had died. I knew I had to be there to commemorate the date of her passing. My husband  Gene is so great and was fine with spending Valentine’s Day weekend in Dresden. I did a lot of research and had to call A LOT of mortuaries to actually find the cemetery. It was very hard to locate exactly as it hadn’t been used in many years. Luckily we didn’t have too many issues once we got to Dresden, and I was able to leave the sign I made in the picture above.

Dresden-Grovehill ChurchWhile doing research I also found the church where my great grandparents attended Sunday services, and where several of my other family members are buried, including my grandma’s son who passed away when he was 3 years old.  There was so much sadness in my poor sweet grandma’s life, however, she was never bitter and never let life get her down.  I still don’t know where she got such strength, but it was to be admired.

Dresden-Grovehill Cemetery Happily, I found that the church is still there today. We were able to connect with one of the members who actually met us at the church. He was very nice and let us leave some flowers on the altar for the service the next day. It was so surreal sitting in the same church that my great grandparents and family had set in so many years ago.

Dresden-Grovehill Church InsideHowever, one of the most unexpected parts of our visit was meeting a gentleman named Joe who knew and remembered my great grandfather. I was shocked and thrilled to be able to meet with him at his house for a bit. He may have been older and frail, but was able to tell us some stories that he remembered from when he was a kid. It was a true blessing to be able to meet and speak with him. I never expected anything like that to happen.

Dresden-2While visiting with Joe, he gave us directions to the farm that my great grandfather had owned until the ’60s. or so. The house is long gone, but it was great driving around the roads and imagining where it used to be.  It was weird to spend part of Valentine’s Day in a cemetery in Dresden, TN. However, it was one I will never forget. Then again, isn’t Valentine’s day about love?

Dresden-CourthouseThe picture above is the courthouse where my great grandparents were married. I also found their birth certificates. It was so cool. While Dresden, TN isn’t on many people’s travel plans, it is a cute little city and I was very happy to spend some time and learn about some of my roots and family history. It was amazing to make some of those connections. May this post help to inspire you to seek out some of your ancestors and learn a little about your family history. I would love to hear about your experiences. Please send me a message below. 🙂

P.s. Here is a map of where Dresden is located, as well as a link to their website.

Dresden TN Map

Also, if you are looking for a few more things to do in Tennessee, check out the following blog posts below:

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Tour
Ruby Falls


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