This is one of the things I so deeply love about the people of Nashville. The Buchanan Log Home was built by James Buchanan. Buchanan Station and the cemetery were built by John Buchanan. James and John are not related, to the best of folks' knowledge and DNA testing. But the family, friends and fans of James Buchanan have been trying their very best to watch out for the Buchanan Station cemetery, just because it needed doing. I find that really moving.
And now that they're working with the family, friends and fans of John Buchanan, it seems like the cemetery may indeed have some paths to preservation.
Lu Whitworth, one of the aforementioned Buchanan Log Home people who is also watching out for the Buchanan Station Cemetery, talked about the drawbacks to having a cemetery in an industrial area. The James Buchanan Cemetery is on the other side of the road from the log house, and Whitworth talked about how, since the area is thriving, development has come right up to the chain-link fence surrounding their cemetery. The John Buchanan cemetery is not crowded like that, but I think everyone was imagining how under different circumstances, it could be.
Then Mike Slate talked about John Buchanan and the importance of Buchanan Station to Nashville's history. I've run into Slate a couple of times, and if you ever have a chance to hear him talk about anything having to do with early Nashville history, you must do so. He is incredibly knowledgeable, and he talks about these folks like they're his fishing buddies. He makes 200-year-old history seem vibrant and vital. His main point was that if the Battle of Buchanan's Station had gone differently, there would be no Nashville. This is the final resting place of some of Nashville's most important city parents.
Last, Tim Walker from the Metro Historical Commission was there to let folks know that the Parks department is willing to accept the cemetery as a donation and maintain it (cutting the grass, basically). This would provide a path for the cemetery to get city funding for refurbishing, although he cautioned that getting such funding might take years. But the women from the Daughters of the American Revolution have expressed an interest in helping with that, and it sounded to me like the Sons of the American Revolution and some other groups might be interested as well. Walker also said that Councilman Phil Claiborne has been out to the cemetery and is interested in helping preserve it.
Most importantly, the man who owns the cemetery now is apparently very sympathetic to the need to preserve it, and open to working out a way to get it into the hands of people who can take care of it.
The group that met on Saturday is trying to decide if they should form a Friends of Buchanan's Station Cemetery (or, perhaps, just a Friends of Buchanan's Station) and, if so, how formal it should be and what role it might take in advocating for the cemetery.
I have to admit, I came away from the meeting feeling cautiously optimistic that the stars are aligning to preserve the cemetery and to return John and Sally Buchanan to their rightful place in Nashville's history. Nashville has more than its share of lost history: for instance, we were the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War, yet we have no preserved battlefield. But this — fingers crossed — seems like it might be a win.