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Note to the reader: Last year I published my firsthand account of enduring Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for the storm’s four-year anniversary. I wanted to write something for the fifth anniversary this year, but as I have not been back to the Gulf area since, I cannot comment on the current state of the area or the lasting effects this disaster has had. There are other, better qualified writers already doing so. So instead, I present to you this tale from the road during my time as a post-Katrina refugee.

You can read my previous piece here.

The town of Bucksnort in Hickman County, Tennessee is absolutely no place to find yourself stranded. Avoid doing so at all costs. If you never believe anything else I say, trust me at least on this.


It has no post office. It’s so small the United States Census Bureau has no statistics on it, so I cannot tell you the population density, other than: ain’t much. Near as we could tell the town was little more than a glorified truck stop, with nothing other than a motel, a diner, a bar/auto mechanic (they shared building space) and a gas station. The beds at the motel were hard as a wooden bench, and the food at the diner, though filling, was an unremarkable selection of standard Southern fare.


While the area is thick with deer, local legend (meaning: printed on the back of a T-shirt sold in the diner) claims that the name actually comes from a pre-Civil War local who sold “snorts” of moonshine for a dollar apiece.

My girlfriend and I wound up there when Lovecraftian noises erupted from our car as we crossed through the state on our way to California from our post-Katrina refuge in Roanoke, Virginia. This was followed very quickly by a shaky, unresponsive steering wheel. With zero chance of making it to Memphis for the night as originally planned, we limped off the freeway into the first town we came to.

If it had just been the two of us, we might have attempted to coax it along to someplace more substantial, but we also had our dog and two uncooperative cats, not to mention what personal effects I’d been able to salvage from our flooded apartment. What remained of our lives was packed into the back of that little two-door Honda Civic, and becoming stranded on a dark road in a strange state was a risk neither of us was willing to take.

The mechanic–a chain-smoking, stringy kid all of maybe nineteen years old, who lived in a room above the bar–had some bad news for us: he did not have all the parts he needed for the repairs, would in fact have to order then from Kentucky, which would take about four days. He was quite likely lying to us (I know for a fact he grotesquely overcharged us), but what choice did we have?

The boredom that followed over those next few days was the worst I’ve ever encountered. My experiences in the hurricane, hellish as they were, were at least not dull, and you knew that sooner or later they would end. This, though, was interminable. There was nothing to do other than eat at the diner and watch Law & Order reruns and crap movies on the one TV station that came in clearly. The motel room was more of a prison cell than a place of rest, the bed a deeply uncomfortable place for sleeping and an even worse one for sex.

We tried the bar one evening after dinner, if for no other reason than to ameliorate the boredom with a bit of alcohol. It was exact kind of dive you expect in a town named “Bucksnort”: the smoke-stained wooden interior, the ubiquitous large belt buckles on the men and peroxide hair and push-up bras on the women, twangy accents and a deficit of complete sets of teeth all around. The largest Confederate flag I’ve ever seen hung behind a stage at the far end of the venue. Though the proprietors were nice folks who bought us the first rounds when they learned we were Katrina refugees, ultimately the booze and conversation couldn’t distract us from the knowledge that we were trapped there.

All of this might have been bearable if we’d been in a good place emotionally, but we were not. Our separate experiences with the hurricane had wounded us both deeply, and the longer we stayed in Bucksnort the faster the small measure of peace we’d found in Roanoke unraveled. My dreams were filled with galvanized corpses of flood victims grasping at me, desperately seeking succor I was helpless to give, and waking every morning was to wash ashore from a sea of guilt and sadness. My girlfriend fared no better with hers.

On our third day there, unable to bear the tedium any longer, one of us—I genuinely forget whom—suggested we hike the trail running up the hill behind the motel. Just to have something, anything to do. It was either that, or endure the cinematic colonoscopy that is Stuck on You once again. So up the hill we went.

It became evident very quickly that no other human had made that ascent in some time; after less than twenty feet the worn footpath gave way to the bramble and detritus of a woodland area well into the act of reclaiming lost territory. There were places where the trees bent together overhead to knit a sort of tunnel, huge primordial spider webs stretched across the expanse. More than once we had to stop to pluck the sticky threads from our faces while the dog romped and frolicked through the underbrush, dashing off after some unseen critter or another, tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.

It took us about an hour to make the climb. The trail banked at one point, curving like a fishhook around the hill’s far side; from the small overlook there all we could see was the rolling auburn-dappled forest of the Tennessee back country in early fall. And when we finally reached the top we found, nestled by itself in the middle of a tiny quiet meadow, a grave: twin obelisks of thick polished granite surrounded by iron fencing.

No one had tended the tiny cemetery in a very long time. One stone had lost the battle with entropy and toppled over onto its side, and both were stained and weathered from long exposure to the elements. The fencing likewise had long since become rusted and warped, parts of it nearly consumed by the surrounding earth.

It was as unsettling a tableau as one could expect to come across in the woods. My girlfriend instantly loved it. “It’s so creepy,” she said, in the exact voice another might say “That’s really cool.”

Creepy, yes, but fascinating, and oddly peaceful. The idea of these two stones, alone in the forest at the end of a long-forgotten path, was something out of a fairy tale. They were very old, too: while much of the writing was worn away, we could still identify them as the markers of J.H. Rains (1845 – 1911) and Margaret Rains (1852 – 1909). They’d been buried at the top of that hill for almost a hundred years, and from the look of things, we were their first visitors in several decades.

The sun was rapidly heading down into the western foothills, so we lingered only long enough to take these few pictures. Neither of us spoke much. We went to the diner and bar that night to ask around, but none of the townspeople we spoke to knew anything about the graves or a family named Rains, or much cared. Their attitude is best summed up by the sweet-natured, wall-eyed waitress who served us dinner: “Well, ain’t that a thing! Now, would ya’ll like to try the chicken-fried pork chops tonight? Gotta nice home-style applesauce and buttered green beans on the side.”

The mechanic, mercifully, had our car fixed the next morning, and $1200 later we were able to leave Bucksnort. We made it without further incident to California, where we began the process of rebuilding our lives; first as a couple, then later as individuals.

I did some cursory investigative work while preparing this essay, but could turn up nothing on J.H. and Margaret Rains in Hickman County or anywhere else in the state, or any trace of a genealogy. I expected this. Given that a Google search for Bucksnort unveils sweet fuck-all, I doubt either their births or deaths were ever recorded on paper.

I wonder about their lives sometimes. Perhaps J.H. had been a Confederate bushwhacker in his youth and a moonshiner later on, Margaret the proper wife 19th century Southern tradition demanded. Had their families owned slaves? How did they make a living during Reconstruction? They must have been persons of some means, as someone put a great deal of time and care into fashioning their burial place.

Likely as I’ll never know. Whoever the Rains once were, all they remain now is a forgotten piece of history tucked away in the Tennessee hills.

 

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Matthew Baldwin MATTHEW BALDWIN is a writer, martial artist and all-around misanthrope living in San Diego, California. He's published fiction and poetry in several small literary journals, most of which went out of business soon after. Make of that what you will. He currently holds a fourth-degree black belt in karate, a B.A. from the University of California and an M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans. In his free time he serves as a professional martial arts instructor, working mostly with teenagers. He's currently at work on both a first and second novel, and can be followed/harrassed on Twitter. And please, call him Matt.

111 Responses to “The Mystery of Bucksnort”

  1. Ashley Menchaca (NOLAdy) says:

    I feel like thus statement is over-used but I’m going to say it anyway…

    Matt, I really loved this piece.
    Funny and sweet.

    I think that gravesite is creepy in a good way too, but more than that, it’s beautiful. Old cemeteries are full of such mystery and awe. I can spend (and have spent) hours upon hours walking through their narrow paths. Almost like I’m searching for a piece of myself.

    PS- The name BUCKSNORT totally makes me giggle.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I find them interesting too–which is interesting considering I have no interest in being buried in one. I liked walking around the old ones in New Orleans. So much care went into some of those monuments. And it always made me laugh to think about how, when Europeans first settled the area, the just buried their dead the same as anyplace else, not realizing the problems that come with being below sea level–and then every time a heavy rain or flood came through, the earth would spit the corpses right back up.

      Glad you like this one. I figured there are going to be so many retrospective stories and articles published this weekend to mark the 5th anniversary that it might be more interesting to take a different route.

  2. Thanks for this powerful post. I like the matching of one contemporary couple, stranded in limbo, coming upon the graves of another who lived a century ago. Also, the line – “waking every morning was to wash ashore from a sea of guilt and sadness” – packs a true wallop. And all this in what might be the best name ever for an American town.

    • Matt says:

      You know, I never really thought about the parallelism between my (now ex) girlfriend & I and the couple up on the hill. Nice eye there, sir.

      Funny thing about Bucksnort is, it isn’t even the original Bucksnort. The first one was actually in Lincoln County, TN, but was renamed in 1898. No idea why.

  3. Tawni says:

    Bucksnort? Bucksnort? Are you kidding me? Is Doefart just down the road apiece, y’all? After you pass the crick? That’s completely awesome.

    My ex and I had a similar experience when the van containing our worldly possessions broke down in a weird little city near the California border. We were en route to L.A. from Lawrence, KS. Water pump exploded. Late on a Saturday afternoon, of course. Similar hotel room boredom and bad television insanity for a few days. But oh my god, at least it wasn’t Bucksnort, TN.

    That tiny cemetery is so sweet and sad. I want to jump into the picture with five really strong people and put the toppled headstone back where it belongs, fix the fence and plant some flowers. I’m hoping to be parted out like a broken car, donated and cremated upon my demise, but the Rains probably wanted to be memorialized by their cemetery plot. The best thing about this piece you’ve written is that you’ve given them what they most likely wanted; kind remembrance.

    Great writing, as always, Matt. xoxo.

    • Matt says:

      If’n you’re lookin’ fer Doefart, just mosey on down yon road a spell, past the crick. Getcha there faster’n two ticks off a dog’s ass. If’n you swing by Willie’s still, pick me up a jug, ya hear?

      Do you remember which small town near the California border you were stuck in? I’ve been to several. None of them were quite Bucksnorty, but certainly not places where I’d like to spend any substantial amount of time.

      You’d need more than five strong men, I think; probably a couple of mules and a winch and tackle at least. It’s difficult to get any sense of scale from the photos (we didn’t want to risk treading on them, so didn’t step beyond the fencer perimeter) but the one that’s standing is as tall as I am, and thicker. That much stone is going to weigh quite a lot–hence my deduction that the Rains were people of some amount of affluence.

  4. Sarah says:

    I think abandoned and forgotten graves are incredibly sad. I would rather not have a grave at all then to have one so neglected.

    In fact, and my family continues to fight me on this begging me to change my mind, I am largely anti-cemetery. They take up valuable acreage that could be farmland or housing. (Note: I feel the same about golf courses). Anyone who cares to make a pilgrimage to visit me once I’m dead can come see my beautiful urn or shoddily-crafted ash container of some sort at one of my children’s homes.

    Surprisingly entertaining was a fill-in, mid-season reality show last spring (replaying currently, the most recent with Emmit Smith) was Who Do You Think You Are? where celebrities trace back their ancestry hundreds of years. That stuff is cool. I’m sure J.H. and Martha’s births/marriage/deaths are in county records somewhere. Ancestry.com would be a great tool but I think you have to pay.

    This was a great read, Matt, and for the “sea of guilt and sadness” you went through, I’m glad you made it out okay.

    • Matt says:

      What was really sad for me was that no one–and I mean absolutely no one–had any idea they were up there at all. And their level of indifference, coming from a region that usually prides itself on having a good idea about kinship and relations, was almost heartbreaking.

      Yeah, I’m with you on burials. Burn me, donate my organs, use my body for science, feed me to sharks, whatever. Me and my junk are taking up enough space as it is while I’m alive–no reason to keep the habit up once I’m dead.

      I looked at ancestry.com, and you’re right, it’s a pay site. And I honestly didn’t have the free time to conduct as thorough a search as I might have liked. Though that cause has been quickly taken up by others….

  5. Alison Aucoin says:

    A beautiful expression of the morass and slow moving chaos of the post-Katrina period. This aspect is often left out of the narrative covered (and re-covered by NPR, CNN, etc…). Good job!!

    Here are my thoughts:

    1) Everyone had a Katrina exile time in purgatory (or full-on hell) mine was in Fuqua-Varina, North Carolina. It’s only about 30 minutes from where I live now, but a world away!

    2) I used to live next to an abandoned graveyard of about the same age as the one you found. My puppy Katie was especially fond of resting in the sun on the grave of one Oneida Lopez. Turned out Katie came from the shelter with distemper & after trying in vain to cure her, I had to have her put down. I sprinkled her ashes on top of Oneida’s grave. I like to think that Katie gave (and gives) Oneida some companionship.

    3) Why didn’t you put the names in the tags? Maybe one day someone will be doing genealogical research about them & you could tell them where they are buried.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Alison. That means a lot, coming from a local.

      Yeah, there’s plenty of (good) narratives about enduring the hurricane, about rebuilding afterwards, about changes in the wake…but one of the things that struck me when I was looking for something to write about for the 5th anniversary was the lack of road stories of evacuees. I’m sure a book could probably be compiled of those narratives.

      1.) This might be a story worth telling. Never been to North Carolina myself.

      2.) That’s fantastic! Deserves to be it’s own TNB entry, I think.

      3.) Ugh! I can’t believe I overlooked that. Will correct shortly.

  6. Wonderful work as always, Matt. I also followed the link and read the piece you wrote after your old girlfriend moved out. Powerful stuff, bro.

    • Matt says:

      You’d think discovering a secret grave hidden on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere would cement you together for life, huh?

      But no.

  7. I’m sort of guessing the Rains were passing though years ago, their wagon busted on the side of the road. They were with their son, who late that night murdered them, then squandered some of their fortune on gravestones he could visit for years to come. Oh, and he started the Bucksnort brand which made him wealthy until he died from a rattlesnake bite somewhere in Texas in 1930.

    OK, now that my imagination had its fill, I have to say I love stories like yours. America has many dark secrets, many forgotten and unexplainable. I’m sure the Rain graves are on haunted lands…

    • Matt says:

      That’s not a bad narrative, Nick! I rather like it.

      More than once while I was putting this piece together I thought to myself, “I’m on Nick Belardes’ territory here. Hope he doesn’t mind!”

  8. dwoz says:

    Note to self.

    If you have a name like “Jedediah Hironymous Raines”…

    …make certain you leave enough money for your family to comfortably handle the burial costs, because the headstone engraver is paid by the letter.

    Also, make certain that you pick a stone that is as wide as your name.

  9. Don Mitchell says:

    Matt, I really liked this piece. You captured that “stuck somewhere” ambiance that many of us know. Stuck and waiting for parts so that somebody you don’t fully trust can fix your car, you hope.

    If Amy Shearn’s reading this, I think she’ll love it. In “How Far is the Ocean From Here” she sets up a similar situation, but not in the shadow of a great natural disaster.

    Those tiny plots always raise the same questions: why them? why here?

    Of course you could have asked “why us” and “why here” about your breakdown, too.

  10. dwoz says:

    If I may, I note that if the photo of the cemetery is a good example of what the other three points of the compass are like, then this was an open field until about 30 years ago. Someone mowed that field, with the exception of the oak sapling that started up inside the iron fence, until then, and sometime in the last 20 years cut down that oak, probably because the roots were toppling the monument.

    Possibly the loggers that used that logging trail toppled the stone themselves, when they took that tree. But loggers don’t cut that high off the ground, unless the metal of the fence had become embedded in the wood.

  11. Gloria says:

    Stuck on You is a cinematic colonoscopy. That’s hilarious. I mean, Kinnear and Damon are both tremendous actors. How in the hell did they ever end up making that train wreck?

    Anyway…

    Matt, this story is eerie and awesome. I would have said “that is so creepy” in the exact same voice your girlfriend did. I love cemeteries. I love graves. Happening upon some random one would be trippy, but kinda great. And possibly frightening.

    Glad you weren’t stuck there longer than need be. This story would a perfect setting for Psycho or The Hills Have Eyes. Glad it all worked out.

    • Gloria says:

      I’ve recently given up on ever being able to post a comment without misspelling something or omitting a word. Fuggit.

    • Matt says:

      That movie was so damn terrible, and it was playing at least once a day on one of the channels the TV picked up. As I remember we sat through it without really moving or speaking–just numbed utterly by the entire experience. I really think that was pretty much the nadir of our stay there, and the point at which we either had to do something, or just kill ourselves.

      It was indeed a very, very strange thing to come to the top of that hill and find that grave there all by itself. Almost a Blair Witch moment.

      And while I don’t mean to be unkind to the locals, the whole town very much had a Deliverance vibe to it. Just one “Yew gotta awful purty mouth” and I would have been legging it back down the freeway like no one’s business.

  12. Lorna says:

    Hmmmm, well the date is not exact, but it is a J. H. Rains born in TN:

    http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=/eng/search/ancestorsearchresults.asp

    I enjoyed reading this, especially since I am in the midst of building my family geneology. It often leaves you wondering about the lives of those before you.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I FOUND THEM! I think. I’m pretty sure.

      http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=/eng/search/ancestorsearchresults.asp

      According to the record for this J.H. Rains, he was born in 1841, but the coincidences are just too much.

      Hickman County, a farmer, etc. etc.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Oh. That URL just turns up the search page. I searched for Tennessee Margaret Rains born in 1852 and found one married to J.H. Rains, Hickman Cty., 1880 TN census.

        • Matt says:

          You both very well may have found them. Someone very research-driven has uncovered a great deal of information on the two of them, which I’ll be posting later today. Thought I’d give everyone else a chance to play–which wasn’t my intent when I wrote the piece–if they were of a mind to.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Anyway. Part of the problem is that free public records searches are obscured by the pay sites.

          Having a shit of a time even finding the public search for the Hickman Country Register of Deeds, so my curiosity is swiftly turning to frustration and rage.

          I will, therefore, wait patiently for the results from this much more patient person, whoever it is.

        • Gloria says:

          I knew someone else would beat me to it, so I didn’t even try. I knew this was a challenge a TNBer would meet head on.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Hey. Why the hell did my old comment turn up in my new comment?

        • No idea, but it’s taken care of.

          Records searches are also difficult since Hickman County is unincorporated. And I think a lot of it is mostly really small settlements, so who knows what there is in terms of local municipal governments to keep records and such.

          Though, given the diversity of people we have here, I wouldn’t be too surprised if an “OMFG –I’ve been there!” comment turns up at some point.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I used to be a land surveyor…or work as one, anyway, so deed records are really the only thing I know how to search with any amount of competence.

          But it hardly does me any good if I can’t go to an actual registrar’s office or find a decent historical search page.

        • Lorna says:

          Sweet! I love to solve mysteries. It’s almost as fun as hunting dinasour bones. :)

        • Lorna says:

          Also, sometimes county recorders will have an online property records search although I am not sure that their data bases would go back this far into the records. But it is worth a shot.

      • Lorna says:

        Oh that Martha was a cougar! hehe.

  13. Zara Potts says:

    Bucksnort! You American’s have such funny named towns! I can’t work out why you all laugh when you come here and see ‘Whakapapa.’

    Seriously, this was a lovely piece. Meditative – the calm after the storm, so to speak. But the graves seem symbolic of so much. So poignant and sad.

    I like these pieces of yours, Matt – where you weave in the past and the future with your present. Really nicely done. And the picture of you and your pooch makes me sad.

    • Matt says:

      Too be fair, when said aloud by an English speaker who’s unfamiliar with Maori dialects, ‘Whakapapa’ does kind of sound like a crude term for masturbation.

      Glad you like the structure of these pieces–I always feel a little self-conscious writing memoir of this sort, so it makes me happy to know that the end results are working.

      While I didn’t want to say anything in the body of the piece (preferring to let readers ascribe their own meanings), I think for me–at least at that moment–the graves where mostly a sign that time eventually, inevitably takes all things away. Not the most optimistic thing, perhaps, but what I needed.

      He was a good little dog. Only about a year old at that point.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      “Whakapapa” seems perfectly reasonable to me. It could be right up the road for all I know.

      Then again, I come from a place called “Minnesota,” wherein there is a “Minnetonka,” “Minnehaha,” “Mahtomedi,” “Koochiching,” “Whakon,” “Waseca,” “Nisswa,” “Shakopee,” etc. etc.

    • Simone says:

      Oh, I think most countries have strange names for towns and other places. There’s a farm (or a town) about 200km west of Pretoria called: Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein.

      This translates to: “The spring (lit. Fountain) where two buffaloes were cleanly killed with a single shot”

      • Matt says:

        I just tried to say that out loud and couldn’t do it. What a mouthful! But that translation is hilarious.

        • Simone says:

          Yeah, it is a mouthful! Most of us South Africans laugh at the translation too.

          There are quite a few towns / cities with the word “fontein” (fountain) in it, for example: Bloemfontein (lit. Flower Fountain).

  14. Becky Palapala says:

    Now you’ve got me going.

    I refuse to accept that there is no information on these people. There must be. Cursory searches reveal that “Rains” is a very common name in Arkansas, Tennessee, and maybe even in North Carolina. And I come across a number of John H. Rains in Tennessee, born before this one and some after. They are also, apparently, a family prone to genealogical research.

    Of course, there’s another option: They may have BEEN slaves at birth, in which case they would probably carry the name of their owner and still not appear in genealogical or government/municipal records. Not sure what the going rate on a grave marker like those was in the early 20th century, so maybe freed slaves could or couldn’t afford them. And they may have been brother and sister, not husband and wife.

    This is going to drive me batty.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, okay. There’s a Pruett Cemetary just off I-40 in Hickman Cty., TN within .2 miles of Bucksnort that appears to reside in a clearing in a forest, maybe or maybe not on top of a hill.

      But the google map doesn’t show any motel. And who’s Pruett?

      http://www.histopolis.com/Place/US/TN/Hickman_County/Pruett_Cemetery

      P.S. MN has a “Bucksnort, too.” Doubtful they have any confederate flags, though.

      • Matt says:

        Right area but that’s not it. The locals did mention Pruett Cemetery to us when we asked about the Rains graves, but it was on a level little patch of earth.

        Google maps doesn’t show the motel, and neither does Google Earth. It’s the building in the very back of the photo I posted, the red one with the green roof.

        There’s been at least one other Bucksnort in Tennessee, in Lincoln County up closer to the Kentucky border, which was renamed in 1898.

        That flag was so damn huge. It would completely cover some of the walls in my apartment. Difficult not to make assumptions as to what sort of bands play there when you see it used as a stage backdrop like that.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Difficult not to, maybe, and racism is everywhere, but despite some of the connotations it has to people who are sensitive to them, to a lot of people, it’s simply a symbol of regional pride–which I probably don’t have to tell you, since you lived in the south.

        • Matt says:

          Oh, sure. And no one, the entire time we were there, expressed any racist sentiments at all. Everyone was unilaterally kind–even the mechanic who was ripping us off.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        You can find the motel at

        35 53.737N, 87 38.508W

        and what’s probably the cemetery Matt saw at:

        35 54.824N, 87 37.501E

        Don’t forget to set Google Earth to degrees-decimal minutes.

        So you worked at a surveying place? Cool. I’m a self-taught cadastral surveyor — my and my 1947 vintage Watts B.53 theodolite leased from a real surveyor in Port Moresby, a 100-metre steel tape (end-plus style) and perhaps my most-studied book “Elementary Surveying Volume I,” by Breed, Hosmer and Bone. I did my trig and DMD area calculations with a slide rule and then an Olympia hand-cranked calculator. This was on Bougainville, of course.

        • dwoz says:

          I’ve got an old Sokkia Theodolite. Used it to re-survey my land, do the layout on my house, and to save my neighbor from relying on a REAL surveyor who was about to make a $250,000 mistake.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Congrats on your relic.

          My dad is the surveyor. I worked for him for 10+ years, off and on. What’s cool about surveying is that it’s 70% research. If you’re doing it right, anyway.

          I love it.

        • dwoz says:

          you’re absolutely right, it is a relic. Amazing how much you can do with it. When I was laying out my foundation, I was able to square it to within half the width of a six-penny finish nail. A 2000 sq foot house square to the width of a 2B pencil mark.

          What I found funny about it, was that a surveyor could do meets and bounds on my rural land to within about 6 inches, but the best he could certify his results for an in-town lot was about a foot or two…at least in terms of conformance to the maps and plot plans.

          The other thing I found funny was that you could in no manner trust existing maps.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          You can see a picture of my antique in my TNB piece “Transit of Venus.”

          My favorite surveying puzzler was when I had to make solar observations for lat/long, in order to anchor my grid. There were no maps good enough to get within a couple of minutes of where I was (which, for any Google Earth fans, was at 6-29.135 S, 155-23.402 E) and I had a good shortwave radio to get the time from WWV, setting the watch pictured in “My Rolex,” and I had my surveying textbook.

          What was fun was figuring out how to duplicate the textbook descriptions of what I should be seeing at the sun’s zenith, because the illustrations were for a transit (erect image) in the Northern hemisphere, and I had a theodolite with inverting image in the Southern hemisphere. So my copy has little suns drawn in around the crosshairs showing how I tried to figure out at which point to make my measurements. I got it done and when I returned to that spot with a GPS, 30 years later, I found that I’d been out only about 100 meters. It really didn’t matter, but I was happy about that.

          I bet we’re the only three people on TNB who know what “error of closure” means.

        • dwoz says:

          You’re WAY out of my league Don. The worst extent of my own grid tasks was to find 4 nearby driven iron pins, at least two of which belong to someone ELSE, with the assumption that at least two of them would still be in the same spot they were alleged to be in, and would have a BM headstamp. Unfortunately, no NGS BMs were close by.

          Amazing how many blunders there were in the stamped maps (likely transcription errors). The boundaries on my 48 acres wouldn’t close to within 50′. That’s like the distance between the earth and Pluto, in surveyor terms. I found the errors and corrected them. Three measurements were out because the surveyor had just assumed that the existing marks were correct, and those marks had been made by LOGGERS, not previous surveyors.

          The murphy’s law of logging is that all the very best trees are bang-on the property line, and so the solution (for the logger) is to move the property line by a handful of feet.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Some maps you can trust. Depends on the type of map. And if a surveyor’s map, depends on the surveyor. As in all things, some people are more meticulous than others. My dad is the meticulous sort.

          I used a total station my whole time surveying. I can’t do the actual math. Or at least not all of it.

          I do know what closure error is, and I can run a traverse by hand (though at this point, I’d probably need a refresher), but I much prefer a TDS.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I’m guessing what a “total station” is and I like what I’m guessing. I’ll Google it.

          Mine at least had an optical plumb, but the distances were 100% measured by tape, except when going across river valleys, when I laid out the usual triangle.

          I really liked doing surveying in the field (this is for Dwoz too) because the boundaries of the land tracts were so uncertain and therefore interesting. Most of the tracts were forested. They were 100% oral and not everybody agreed on them. Lots of times the boundaries were little crooked streams. Sometimes like a straight line from the head of one little stream to the head of another. And then the cash crop plantings, and food garden areas, the major rivers, etc. It was really enjoyable. I worked on and off at it for about 2 years.

          The biggest tract we (see http://www.wiasi.net for a picture of the “we”) did was 14.9 km along the boundaries and we had to set 130 corners to get it done (and another 24 to connect it to the grid). It took 12 days. During that traverse on our best day we set 21 corners, and on the worst, just 6. Usually there were just 3 of us, sometimes only 2.

          Sometimes I had a bushwhacker going out ahead cutting sightlines and you can imagine that (as in Dwoz’s example of the logger boundaries) when the sightline hacked out didn’t quite end up where it was supposed to, well . . . .

        • Becky Palapala says:

          The one I used wasn’t entirely different from the one pictured in the wiki page.

          That instrument plus a data-collecting calculator meant I scarcely ever had to hold a pencil, except to mark point numbers on a field map.

          Ah, technology.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Beautiful machines! And a one-person crew under some circumstances. Amazing. I bet they aren’t cheap, though. My theodolite cost $250 (used) in Papua New Guinea in 1972.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          They most certainly are not cheap.

          And my dad does have a robotic one, in addition to the one I used most of the time, but the robot was not as accurate (or as powerful), so he didn’t like using it for setting irons. Mostly we only ever used it when there was tons of location to do. They do MAKE them very powerful and accurate, but he has a sort of bare-bones one.

          And it isn’t fully robotic (though some are). Someone still has to stand there and push buttons on the data collector. But provided you keep the glass visible to the gun, it will follow you as you walk back and forth in the parking lot or yard or street or whatever, shooting whatever you’re shooting.

          It’s pretty nice.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      endquote fail. “Bucksnort,” too.

  15. Richard Cox says:

    This is an interesting piece, Matt, with lots of colorful imagery. I found your words more descriptive than even the pictures you included, which is saying something, since the piece was nowhere near 6000 words. Haha.

    In fact, dare I say this was the milk! Man! The milk!

    And I’m curious to hear what these people searches turn up. Keep us posted.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Richard.

      This piece may be the milk, but getting stuck in Bucksnort sure does shit in the whore ocean.

      I’ll stick those searches up in a bit.

  16. Irene Zion says:

    Matt,
    At my first reading I read that you had a dog and two uncooperative rats with you.
    Cats is the more conventional, if expected, word,
    but when I read something, I read what my brain says to read,
    regardless of reality.

    I love graveyards, especially private, old, hidden ones like this one.
    Glad you took pictures.
    Thanks.

  17. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    I love that this has people researching the background of the Rains pair, but I also love how you filled in the blanks of them yourself. There’s a kind of dignity for them in that, I think.

    I tend to obsess over these things. I’ve thought two distinctly curious things when I’ve come across old forgotten-looking headstones in the past. One, that these people are somehow my relatives and that me standing there near them is some kind of closure or solved puzzle. The other thought, maybe these people were complete assholes.

    At any rate, I’m fascinated in reading about *your* reaction to this couple, forgotten in the middle of nowhere, and how it fits into the mosaic of all three stories of your Katrina/post-Katrina experiences. I’m not sure if “fascinated” is quite the right word, but I used “love” twice already …. ;)

    • Matt says:

      Cynthia, you can use ‘love’ as much as you like when I’m around. I assure you, I can handle it.

      Old tombstones are always a strange thing. They can be beautiful, they can be ugly, but ultimately, what they really represent is a mystery. No matter how nice an epitaph might be carved into the stone, it really tells you very little about the person buried beneath.

  18. D.R. Haney says:

    One of these days, I’m going to write a full-length piece about the time I got stranded at a train station in Warsaw on a bone-chilling night. Anyway, I was dropped off there by a friend, now a former friend, and when I later confronted him in LA, he said, “Well, at least you got a good story out of it.”

    So it is with you and Bucksnort. I’m inclined to think kindly of Bucksnort, simply because I enjoyed reading about it here. Meanwhile, we can only hope that someone will bother to make a record of our tombstones a hundred years after they’ve been raised.

    A toast to the Rains clan.

    • Matt says:

      That Warsaw story sounds like one I’d enjoy hearing, be it here at TNB or over a beer somewhere.

      I can’t really maintain any rancor towards Bucksnort–save for that mechanic, the bastard–but I certainly have absolutely no desire to ever go there again. If I were a trucker passing through, I think I might just keep pushing on to the next, larger town.

      As far as memorials go, I’ve never wanted a tomb or a stone. The best memorial I can think of is having a book or two with my name on them still in print, as lasting part of the public dialog after I’m gone. Barring that, I think I’d be okay with a bench with my name on it erected somewhere I love. Down by the beach, say, or the zoo.

      A toast to the Rains clan, indeed.

      And with that, I think it’s time to go ahead and post the information that was uncovered….

  19. Matt says:

    So Don Mitchell read this post when it first went live and, utilizing his superhuman intellect and powerful anthropologist skills, appears to have successfully solved the mystery of who J.H. and Margaret Rains are.

    From the information he emailed me:

    “Here’s the 1900 census record for Margarett [sic] and John, and their kids.

    http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=View&r=an&dbid=7602&iid=004118966_00255&fn=Margarett&ln=Rains&st=r&ssrc=&pid=60617533

    Occupation is “farmer,” and he owned his house and could read and write. No mortgage.

    Everybody is educated.

    Thad, Mattie, and James were “at school,” and they could read and write also.

    In the 1910 census, he’s “widowed,” as expected. But the household had a boarder, Kirk Tibbs.

    In the 1890 veterans schedules, there’s a John G Rains listed as having been a Private, enlisted 1862 got out in 1865. Cavalry, perhaps 2nd regiment. But 2nd regiment of what? And, surprisingly, he seems to have been a Union soldier. Hmm. Wasn’t TN a confederate state?

    John G could be typo from John H.

    1880 census he and Margaret have a son John, age 1. Looks like he died before the1890 census.

    and so on.

    Mattie, the daughter, was born March 1889, and one source locates her birthplace at 35 53.5N, 87 41.7W, which is not far from Bucksnort. I don’t have any good way to learn how that birthplace was established. Looks like good land, though.

    I have a wife for Thomas Alfred Rains, born Aug 1883 (who is probably the “Thad” I saw in the 1900 census). But, no kids that I could find, except an adopted one.

    There’s what seems to be a record for one of the sons, where the farm value is $3,000 — much higher than any value on the page.”

    This was followed, a few hours later, by:

    “129. MARGARET ADELINE6 WILKINS (MARY JANE5 BAXTER, VIOLET MARION4 BARRON, JOHN3, >ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER2, >UNKNOWN1) was born January 18, 1851 in Humphrey County, Tennessee556, and died Unknown. She married JOHN HANKS RAINS. He was born in Only, Tennessee556, and died Unknown.

    Children of MARGARET WILKINS and JOHN RAINS are:
    i. MARY HANNAH7 RAINS556, d. Unknown.
    ii. JOHN RAINS, b. 1880, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. EULA RICE556; d. Unknown.
    iii. THOMAS ALFRED RAINS, b. 1884, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. JULIA GREEN556; d. Unknown.
    iv. MATTIE BELLE RAINS, b. 1889, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. JOHN THOMAS MURPHREE556; d. Unknown.
    v. JAMES OTTO RAINS, b. 1891, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown.

    There seem to be some living descendants of JH and Margaret’s daughter Mattie Belle. I don’t immediately see how to contact them.

    Also, I’ve hit a dead end with JH and Margaret insofar as finding anything about their lives. I did find an message contact for somebody looking into the Rains family, and I did send a message. We’ll see what happens — probably nothing.”

    So there, it seems, we have it.

    • Lorna says:

      Don that is awesome. I’m curious how you found Margaret’s maiden name? I could not find that, although I did find the census docs with spouse and children. You skills could come in handy for me as I am currently tracing my familys roots. I have made it back to the mid 1800′s but am stuck there.

    • Lorna says:

      Don that is awesome. I’m curious how you found Margaret’s maiden name? I could not find that, although I did find the census docs with spouse and children. Your skills could come in handy for me as I am currently tracing my familys roots. I have made it back to the mid 1800′s but am stuck there.

      Matt this turned into a fun little adventure.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        I was lucky that my son had been visiting me and took our a one-month free membership in ancestry.com, using my computer. So the login information was still there. I got as much as I could using their searches, and then went out with Google. It helped that I learned that J. H. was born in Only, TN, and that it seemed as though Bucksnort and Only were used interchangeably (although I bet they weren’t back when J.H. and Margaret were alive). I started Googling various combinations of names, place names, the county name (Hickman), and so on. That finally led me to the second lising that I sent Matt, which is where I first picked up Margaret’s full name.

        There are online sources for birth and death records, but they are paid sites. I did find one where I could get a short temporary membership, and I might do that today.

        One thing this taught me is that there’s a lot to it (which must be why there are professional genealogical researchers). I did some searching for my father’s people in a small town in Kansas a few years ago, but I did it by going there and going to the courthouse, the historical society, and so on. That was easier for an amateur, because the various staff people were really helpful and used to the kinds of questions I was asking. And of course nothing online can substitute for having somebody say something like, “Go out XXX road into ZZZ county and there’s a little store out there and Mr A, who’s often sitting in that store, knows everything about who lived where . . . .”

        So I’d say that if you can get yourself to where they lived, you’d have a much better chance.

        The only other thing I can say is that it gets better all the time as more stuff comes online. For example, about ten years ago I was looking for somebody who had lived in upstate NY around the turn of the century — just for fun, but spurred on my Matt’s piece I might write about it — and completely failed. But after I got into it via Matt’s piece, I took an hour and found her.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Matt, looking for these people was a lot of fun but the reason I emailed the info to you rather than posting it myself was because I thought your piece was really about strangeness, mystery and wonder (apart from Katrina and the car) and information about who Margaret and J. H. really were would add nothing to that — and might even detract from it.

      So I figured that posting details was your decision. People seem interested in learning about them, so I’m glad you did it, but I still think that your piece was about what J.H. and Margaret represented to you more than who they were.

  20. Lenore Zion says:

    i gotta tell you, man, i got held up with the implication that Law & Order doesn’t count as an awesome activity.

  21. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Although my post-Katrina experience was decidedly less traumatic, I can relate to the empty space moments you describe here. We had no electricity for days and nothing to do but clean up….and it was BORING.

    I believe in karma. The mechanic will get his for overcharging you.

    The little graveyard was quite the unexpected foreshadowing.

    Keep on, keeping on, Matt. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Matt says:

      Boring, and hot and humid all over parts of the south. Deeply miserable combination. Glad to hear you got off easier, at least.

      Arguably, one could say that being stuck in Bucksnort IS that mechanic’s karmic punishment. Sure as hell felt like mine.

  22. James D. Irwin says:

    I loved this, as always with your posts.

    Grave stones, for pretty obvious reasons, freak me out a bit. Especially in isolated wooded areas.

    I used to live right by a cemetery last year at university and a lot of the graves there are so old you can’t read them any more. The earliest ones that are still legible come from the mid 1800s.

    I like churchyards though. I like to speculate as to what that name was like as a living person. There’s one headstone where a young man was buried in June 1944. He was a soldier, and it makes me stop every time I go past it. He almost certainly died fighting in WWII.

    This post, actually, has inspired me to do some research on the guy, who wasn’t much older than I am now…

    • Matt says:

      Well, there was no hedgehog to chase around this gravesite (my dog would have loved that). Though if we’d waited long enough, a raccoon or skunk might have turned up. Though I can’t imagine chasing a skunk around a cemetary at night is much fun.

      You should absolutely do that research. Who knows what you might find?

  23. Joe Daly says:

    Matt, there are so many aspects to this story that I liked, but I guess it’s the overall theme of being off the beaten path. Stumbling upon an abandoned and forgotten burial site ranks up there as one of the coolest hiking experiences ever (not to mention fodder for a Sam Raimi movie).

    I remember running the New Orleans marathon, pre-Katrina. We wove through the city on a cool and sunny Sunday morning, taking in lots of mansion-strewn neighborhoods along the way. I’ll never forget coming up on a huge memorial of a Civil War soldier that had “C.S.A.” carved into the bottom in big block letters. It sort of shook me up, and I didn’t realize until later that most surprising for me was the fact that it had not been vandalized, picketed, defaced, or anything like that. It just stood there as a reminder of where LA stood in the War of Northern Aggression. Northerners like me sometimes forget that for many, like your friends in Bucksnort, old loyalties die hard.

    Good stuff, man.

    • Matt says:

      Actually, that’s not a bad comparison. The entire experience of being stuck there is non unlike what you might get if Sam Raimi and David Lynch got together to make a film; equal parts Twin Peaks and The Evil Dead.

      I was very taken aback when I first moved to New Orleans and discovered how deep-rooted Confederate loyalty was among some folks. My girlfriend and I got into more than one heated discussion about what the Confederate flag means as post-Civil War symbol.

      Glad you liked, man.

      • Joe Daly says:

        Sounds like someone should be breaking out his screenplay writing software!

        I can only imagine how much of the CSA undercurrents you experienced when you lived there. Was it pervasive at all, or mainly fringe?

        I remember getting a tattoo there a number of years ago, and halfway through the ink, the artists’s friend walked in and they started shooting the shit about a white supremacy meeting that they had recently attended. Needless to say, when I got back to the hotel, I had my buddies examine the tattoo (it was on my back) to make sure that he didn’t sneak in any unwanted symbols into the piece, as some artists are wont to do.

        Strange times. Next time I see you, you’ll have to tell me more about your time there.

        • Matt says:

          Mmmmm…..pervasive, but it depended on what particular demographic you happened to be talking to. The sentiment was obviously not something shared by non-whites in the city. But among whites–especially, I’d say, those who’s families had been rooted in the area for decades–there was an occasional trend to see the CSA flag as a symbol of rebellion in the face of tyranny, regardless of what it may or may not have stood for. The “well, the war wasn’t just about slavery” arugment came up a lot, even from some locals I knew who vehemently repudiated slavery as an institution.

          And there were plenty of times I heard/witnessed a casual type of racism one doesn’t frequently see in California. Your encounter in the tattoo parlor was a perfect example of that, and the assumption that it was always “safe” to talk about that sort of thing among other whites. The first job I had out there–right when I arrived, before school started–was at the Tulane bookstore. While working this job I heard a tenured professor refer to black people as “those Negroes” which just floored me.

  24. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Matt, very cool piece but I think the comments – and subsequent Scooby-Doo investigation – may have outdone it! Well, except for the strategic use of “sweet fuck-all”, which made me guffaw. Loudly.

    Many lifetimes ago, I was a boy visiting my sister in Redwood City. I stumbled across an abandoned cemetery… in the middle of the city. Overgrown, unvisited, decrepit, the few folks that acknowledged knowing it was there called it “the old voodoo cemetery”. Apparently a lot of yellow fever deaths. I still remember (with more heartbreak, now that I’m a parent) a small plot with a marker in the shape of a crib – apparently three small children from the same family had died within a short span and were interred together. Horrid to see something once done in such love and grief turn to neglect and decay.

    None of that for me, thanks. I’m a “burn me and churn me” type, too. Take whatever parts might be useful, mulch the rest. My kids can use it to amend the soil for their gardens. Whatever.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I expected a little bit of the junior detective stuff, but have been blown away by the amount of information that has been retrieved–waaaaaay beyond what I’d hoped for, and much of it accomplished by Don in just few hours on Saturday morning while I was sleeping in!

      There’s a small graveyard at a historical park not far from where I live. The prettiest, and saddest grave there is one for an infant who died after something like 23 days. Horrifyingly beautiful stone, both in terms of the design and for what it represents.

      I do like your description of the “voodoo cemetary.”

      Burn me and churn me, indeed.

  25. Matt says:

    OKAY. I just discovered WordPress somehow ATE the paragraph explicitly detailing Bucksnort. That has now been fixed. Sorry to have accidentally denied you all the ful Bucksnorty glory.

  26. Firstly, the reason no one knows about Bucksnort is because people probably have trouble coming to terms with the fact that the name is real! Bucksnort? Sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel.

    As for the graves of top of the hills… That’s an interesting parallel with you – stranded.

    In Korea people are traditionally buried on hills. Always seemed like a nice place to me. Like if the dead could see they’d have a nice view.

    • Matt says:

      Seriously! It’s like they were looking for the simplest means of advertising “Back country redneck town full of gap-toothed bumpkins.”

      Never knew that about the traditional Korean burials. Very interesting.

  27. getting stranded is the touchstone for 78% of all good fiction. The other 22% is getting drunk and getting punched. I came in on this way too late to offer anything about the Rains’, not even Claude, but enjoyed it nevertheless, Matt.

    • Matt says:

      You know, if I’d walked into that bar and said something along the lines of “Praise Allah” I might have been able to combine the two experiences. Man, think of the story I could have had then!

      Thanks for coming by, Sean.

  28. Don Mitchell says:

    I mentioned in an earlier comment that I’d left a message for someone who might know something.

    She did.

    Even better is that the woman who replied to my query (I’m not giving her name, because I haven’t yet asked her if she wants her real name posted) has been looking for those gravestones and has been unable to find them. But thanks to TNB, now she knows. Wonderful.

    I’ll quote her two emails (I broke the text up to make for easier online reading):

    Hi Don,

    Thank you so much for telling me about these grave stones. My mother and I are now planning a trip to Bucksnort! Mattie Bell Rains was my Great Grandmother. She passed away in 1986 at the age of 97. Mattie and her daughters did extensive research on the Rains family name and I have all of their findings.

    She was the Great Granddaughter of Captain John Rains, one of the original settlers of Nashville. So how did J. H. and Margaret end up in Bucksnort? At the outbreak of the Civil War, John Hance, the father of John Hanks, sold a portion of land in what is now downtown Nashville for $6000 and moved his family to Dixon, TN, and later to Only in Hickman Co. This is where John Hanks married Margaret Wilkins and raised their family. According to Mattie’s research, they were buried in a community called Spring Hill/Creek, Tn.

    We never knew where that was, and there are so many little communities in that area that pinpointing one that may have been named this or that 100 years ago is nearly impossible. These tombstone are a valuable find for us and I can’t wait to go searching for them. We actually have a framed portrait labeled J. H. Rains and a photograph we think may be J. H. and Margaret. If I can dig them out I’ll post them on ancestry.com.

    But I hope this helps, and if anyone is interested, many of the records to do with Hickman Co. are in the Nashville Public Library, which is where most of Mattie’s research was done.

    Take care,

    A.P.

    and

    I noted something else in the comments in the article. There is a mention of a John G. Rains as a Union soldier. Our J. H. Has an uncle named John Golong Rains, who could be the Union soldier. So if the family had Union sympathies that might be the reason they fled Nashville. Just some food for thought.

    And as for why they are buried in a seemingly uninhabited place, I don’t know. I’m sure Mattie knew where the site was, because she would have been about 19 when her father died, but it is something that has been lost over three generations. I am excited about a new mystery to solve, though, and thank you again for sharing your findings with me. You have given my mind plenty to chew on while I try to stay awake on a midnight shift.

    A.P.

    Thanks, A.P. Thanks very much.

  29. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Very cool, indeed, guys!

  30. Simon Smithson says:

    Matt, as I’ve mentioned in other forums, I really thought highly of this piece. I think you have a gift for describing quiet places. Honestly, that whole relationship should have gone on forever just so you could have a forum for shared memory of the Rains Graves.

  31. Patti says:

    I would like to add a few comments to A.P.’s story since she is my daughter.
    The head stones that you found where indeed the markers of my Great Grandparents Rains. My Grandmother was one of their daughters, they had two daughters & three sons. The first daughter lived only 2 years. Out of the three sons, there is no record of any children born. My grandparents John Thomas Murphree & Mattie Bell Rains, had 6 children. My father being the oldest son.
    We have or had no idea where any were buried.
    I did go to the Only TN data web site and found some interesting info. We knew where the Murphree cemetery was located and it isn’t not to far from Bucksnort. The only info that I had on the Rains was that they were buried at Sugar Creek on the family farm. If you look at the Only Tn data site you can see a Sugar Creek Stream that is listed. What if?
    My daughter and I will make it a day of exploring some time soon.
    I am very sorry for the inconvenience that I know that you went through staying at Bucksnort.
    But THANK YOU.

  32. This is incredible. I know I commented on here before. But it’s great to help people connect to relatives. Even deceased ones.

  33. Matt, I know all of this has already been said, but I’ll say it anyhow: Great work. Loved this. There’s something about the gravestones that is really, for me, the heart of this piece. I did not want to do any research on the Rains couple because I think it retains a certain quality if I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into the image because I’m teaching all about images this week, but the unknown here matches your predicament – post-Katrina, pre-singlehood – well.

    Awesome.

  34. Joyce Mayberry says:

    Jonathon Hans Rains was a grandson of the celebrated Indian fighter Captain John Rains. Jonathon had a brother named John Golong Rains who lived in HU. Co.
    Jonathon Hans Rains served in Henon Cross’s Company in the Civil war.
    J.H. Rains and his wife Margaret Wilkins are listed in the Hickman Co. Cemetery book.
    Another grave exists with no marker, with the name of Jim.
    The story is that he was jilted by his girl and one day when his horse came home without him, they found his body and some bottles? It is believed he committed suicide.
    As for Bucksnort, I daresay it is no different than a hundred other truck stops across America. Including New Orleans.
    As for the Register of Deeds, they are county employees who register deeds and they do NOT do land research.
    Hickman Co. Historian

    • GARY BELL says:

      Hans stands for Hance. My Great 4 Grandmother was Elizabeth Hance Rains. Daughter of Captain John Rains and Christiannah Gowan (spelled many ways). Every one of Elizabeths brothers and sisters had the Hance name as their middle name. Settled in Nashville where there is much to read about the Rains family. The only research I found was that a John Hance and a Rains swore allegiance together to the United States of America. Thanks for the extra history in Hickman County. Elizabeth Hance Rains married John Turner Bryan and they moved to and were some of the founders of Denmark, Tennessee. Buried in Ebeneezer Baptist Cemetary.

  35. Mona C says:

    Bucksnort was named after my 6th great grandfather, WIlliam Buck Pamplin. Awesome find on the Rains family tombstones. History needs to be remembered, so many want us to forget it.

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