Contributed photoThe Pyle Cemetery Association held Decoration Day at the cemetery off Memorial Boulevard this past weekend. The cemetery dates to the 1800s.
KINGSPORT — Pyle Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Kingsport, needs some help from the living.
The public cemetery, which dates from the 1800s and is located at the end of Trinity Lane, just past Harbor Chapel Road off Memorial Boulevard, needs donations and volunteers for the ongoing upkeep of the property. Members of the Pyle Cemetery Association, which was primarily organized by Elizabeth Shipley Collins, have moved away or died, greatly reducing the number of donations the association now receives, said Marie Nelms, who serves as the secretary-treasurer of the association.
According to a history written by Collins, whose father Oscar F. Shipley was the caretaker in 1928-29, the first person buried in the cemetery was William Hale.
Hale was traveling by stage coach east to west and came to the Preston Place stage stop. When the stage arrived, he was quite ill. The stage driver left him there, and he died on Oct. 3, 1855. Those at the stage stop buried his body in what became Pyle Cemetery. Later, a marble monument was shipped by stage and left at Preston Place (now Exchange Place) to be erected at Hale’s grave.
It is believed that the cemetery was named after the William Pyle family who lived just north of the property. Several members of the Pyle family were buried there before the first deed was made.
On Nov. 25, 1903, the Preston heirs, E.W. Preston, Margaret T. Preston Cox, John G. Preston, W.G. Preston, J.J. Stuart and wife Kate G. Preston Stuart, and Gilbert Preston, conveyed to Noah Childress, Charley Childress and John Shoemaker, trustees, and their successors in trust, a tract of land “for the use of a cemetery for burying of the dead,” according to Collins’ history.
On May 1, 1945, the Preston heirs sold part of the Preston Farm to Preston Hills Associates Inc., to be subdivided and sold as lots or tracts.
On Nov. 26, 1951, Preston Hills Association Inc., made a deed to O.F. Shipley, John Shoemaker, George Spahr, John Ratliff, Ray Taylor, Verlin Peaveler and George E. Bradley, as trustees of Pyle Cemetery, two tracts of land, one containing three-tenths of an acre and the other one-tenth of an acre for use as a way of entering and exiting the property and parking there.
Pyle Cemetery was the only public cemetery in eastern Sullivan County for many years, and during the 1920s and Great Depression was the only cemetery in which people could be buried for free.
Anyone interested in making a donation to or volunteering with the Pyle Cemetery Association may mail a check to Marie Nelms, secretary-treasurer, 2548 Crestwood Drive, Kingsport, Tenn. 37664 or call Nelms at 245-3545.