Next Door to the Dead: More Q & A from the University Press of Kentucky
A Conversation with Kathleen Driskell
I’m interested in lots of history, American history, and the South, in particular, and couldn’t believe my luck a few years ago when Harry Girdley, a trustee of the Mt. Zion and a descendent of the church founders, dropped off The History of Mt. Zion Evangelical Church and Cemetery as Told through Documents and Deeds with Latest List of Burials, a book he researched and compiled with his sister Frances Christina Girdley Barker. Over the years, I had tried on my own to do a bit of research on the property, but as the church was nonprofit, I could find no tax records that established its origin. I regularly cornered folks visiting the cemetery, but memories were foggy and conflicting. Harry’s book provides deeds, church minutes, and burial records that have proved endlessly fascinating. I learned, finally, the church building we live in was dedicated in 1859. And for over a decade, I’d been taken with a brushy corner of the cemetery next door where I’d discovered four primitive-looking nubs of stone seemed placed haphazardly. It was only through Harry’s records that I learned they were the markers of a “slave family.” Much is still unknown about that family—did they die as slaves or were they a freed family?—but a bit of that particular mystery is filled in, and continues to engage my imagination.