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BLOCKER (Elijah) CEMETERY, MAURY COUNTY TENNESSEE

A detailed Aerial Map of the site showing where the historic cabin, Blacksmith Shop and Cemetery is located along Williamsport Pike.

 From Columbia take Williamsport Pike to the Sawdust Community. 100 yard before you reach Craig Bridge Road which turns right stop your car and look left under the trees. There by the  road you will see the last of the old Blocker's Shop (Blacksmith). The stone remnants of the firing pit can be seen near the road next to a large tree. The cabin remains will be about 300 yards south east of where you stopped your car. That is 90 degrees from the northwesterly direction of the road. This is private land so please secure permission before exploring these sites in person.

Listed in  Maury County, Tennessee Cemeteries on page 678 during 1989. Not listed in They Passed This Way.   

Page 678, Maury County Cemeteries, by Fred Lee Hawkins:

BLOCKERS CEMETERY 

This family graveyard was known to have been intact about 1916 when Willis Brown sold the farm on which it was located and entered the U. S. Army. When he returned a year or so later, it had been destroyed. Mr. Brown stated that the tombstones had been pushed into an adjoining ravine & covered.
Sawdust was once known as 'Blocker's Shop, since Elijah Blocker had a blacksmith shop at this place on the Williamsport Pike. 

Persons who were thought to have been buried here were: 
BLOCKER Elijah, b. 1792 in Edgefield Co. S.C.- d. 12 Jun 1857 in Maury Co. Tn. (mar. 1809 in Winnsboro, Fairfield Co. S.C. to Susan Priscilla Winn, Ref: Anonymous e-mail to M.B. McClain; resigned as J. P.; Capt. 27th Reg. of Maury Co. Militia, War of 1812.)  
BLOCKER Susan Winn, b. ca d. 8 Oct 1852. (Daughter of Gen. Richard Winn; e-mail note from anonymous "Susan Priscilla Winn was born 1793 in SC (d/o Gen. Richard Winn), she married abt 1809 to Elijah Blocker who was born 1792- d. Jun 12 1857 in Maury Co TN.")
BLOCKER Richard, b. 1814 d. 1861. Richard is in Maury Co. Deed Bk. P12, p. 712, dated 20 Nov 1866 being deceased. 
BLOCKER Mahala Allen, his wife, b. ca 1820. Published in M.C.T.C. book 1989


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Elijah Blocker's Cabin. The cabin is not standing today. The cabin photo was obviously taken 
in early Spring with the daffodils in full bloom. Notice the cabin is built of logs but covered in clap board siding that is breaking away re-exposing the logs. That is evidence of its age. There is a rock chimney on the upper side. 
This old cabin would have made a nice historic restoration relic at one time. Photo made about 1970.

Jonathan David Blocker:
Greetings;

My name is, really, Jonathan David Blocker. Elijah was my 4th gr. grandfather.

In a nutshell, his eldest son, Samuel Augustus Blocker (schoolteacher), moved his family to the bootheel of Missouri after being in Carroll County for several years, where he had founded Blockers School (parochial). Samuel's eldest son, Thomas, married a woman named Iris Brown and started having children. Apparently, Samuel died early there (possibly from mosquito infestation). So after Thomas mother died (sometime after 1880), he went back again to Tennessee for a visit. Being gone longer than he had stated to his wife, she would not let him back in her life upon his return to Missouri some months later.

Mrs. Blocker then arbitrarily changed her childrens' names to her maiden name, Brown, and that was that. My great grandfather, James Blocker, at eight years of age, was suddenly "James Brown." This lasted until I, three generations later, decided to *dig* out the truth.

We think it is possible that after Samuel died in Missouri, Thomas transported his body back to Sawdust for burial in the Blocker cemetery. I just recently, after 15 years of searching, found that Thomas had moved back to Tennessee near his 1st cousin, also a Thomas Blocker! The cousin was one of the younger sons of Richard, Elijah's second son. My Thomas is buried next to his cousin Thomas ("T.P. Blocker") in the Bon Aqua Church of Christ cemetery (in Hickman County near the Maury County line).

I think because of the incredible drive to know who my ancestors are, and where Samuel is buried, that I made a discovery just last week.

Me, my son, and another cousin whose mother was the Blocker descendant walked the old Blocker place, visiting Elijah's collapsed cabin. The cuz headed back toward the vehicles with an older cousin who had also come with us.

I had this "instinct" to just keep walking up a gully behind the cabin. Suddenly my antennas went up and I felt a literal electrical charge "leading me." I walked about 60 - 80 yards and saw a place in the gully where it was more shallow than the steep banks at the beginning. When I got there, I crossed it and literally "stood" upon a partially exposed tombstone, which was horizontal with the landscape !!!!! I almost passed out.

Photo of the stone found by Jonathan and others suggesting the remnants of a nearby cemetery. photo by Jonathan Blocker

This stone was on the western bank of the gully, and where it lay is a nice - nearly flat - spot large enough for several graves. Upon observing the gully again, the areas to the right and left of me were much steeper, sharper, and deeper, while that area near the exposed stone was not as deep, and filled in.

Wayne Austin:
That is a marvelous story of how you have uncovered the cemetery of your ancestors. I know Mr. Hawkins the premier cemetery researcher of Maury County during the 1980s did not find the graves, but evidently did a great thing when he preserved family information passed to him for posterity. He mentioned the possible burials there. Evidently the cemetery has been lost since about 1917. Maybe the stones were not thrown into the ravine as previously told, because you speak of graves and the stones being together. An effort needs to be made to determine if there are other stones nearby perhaps fallen below the surface. That will require probing the ground and using the best available technique. In short there is need is to know the truth about of how many graves are there and if there are other stones. We should begin to think of how the cemetery can be separated from the surrounding land in a public way that is indicative of a historic cemetery. To do this right will require research and uncovering the lay of the cemetery and much investigative work. 

 
Jonathan Blocker:
The stone I found was on the very edge of the ditch, but still on top where the graves are. What probably happened is that while the stones were being pushed into the ditch, one of them went unnoticed flat on the ground, remaining under a thin veil of dirt right on the edge of the ditch (which eventually washed away. I do believe the others are in the ditch, as it has a rough "filled in" look to it. To the left and right of that spot, the ditch is more steep. But not so where the stone was found. It is much more shallow.

I have been accumulating the facts that will eventually become the real story. I'll keep a log of the entire process, once it is underway, and we'll just edit the thing together when we're done . . . showing the various stages of search, discovery, and completion. Let's just keep in touch on it, and when we are really able to unearth the stones and check for the graves, I'd love for you to be there at least for a few hours, and be the editor 'n chief.

Dan (Allen) had recommended that we work with the State, which is good since we really don't have any finances. There are a few cuzzins that may be willing to chip in some, but I have no idea if it would be a successful fundraiser. I've contacted Nick Fielder who was really glad to know about this. He wants to do the unearthing in October (after the chiggers and tics are gone). Therefore, if we need deeper readings and help with the grave locations, we could ask Dan what the charge would be.

The list of FOUR persons buried there mentioned by Mr. Fred is likely correct. Richard and Mahala probably lived in the cabin last and he definitely farmed that land. However, I believe that Elijah's *presumed* eldest son, Samuel, and Sam's wife, Margaret, might also be buried there. Samuel had relocated to Missouri as a schoolteacher for only a few years before dying, and there is NO cemetery record in the entire Bootheel of Missouri with their names. The best thing would just be to dig out the ditch, see what shows up first, and go from there.

IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE STONE I FOUND IS A PEDESTAL FOR A MEMORIAL. (we could not dig it out enough with sticks to turn it while I was there)

As Mr. Hawkins points out, the place was called Blocker's shop, which far outlasted "Winnsboro." Elijah's father-in-law, Richard Winn, had 5,000 acres which made up possibly all of what is now Sawdust. The sawmill was a much later thing, as Winn and Elijah came from S. Carolina to finally occupy the land about 1812, 6 yrs before Winn died. Elijah was about 20 when he married Winn's daughter Priscilla. There is no marriage recording in Maury County, so they probably married in S. Carolina, and then migrated in there in 1812. Elijah was a Captain in the War of 1812, so things didn't really settle down until after that.

Wayne Austin:
According to Jill Garrett Sawdust was once called Winnsboro or Winntown after General Richard Winn. Evidently George W. Kinzer had a sawmill there about 1870 that brought about the name Sawdust. Jill just says Sawdust was founded in 1870 by Geroge W. Kinzer. However I think I remember reading somewhere about a sawmill being the base reason for the name.

Wayne Austin, Maury County Cemeteries Web site