The Lafayette Expedition

17 Jun

Over the weekend, my wife and I visited her uncle in Lafayette, Tennessee. Before we go too far, you need to know that it is not pronounced in the French way. Around here, the emphasis is on the long A in the middle syllable.

I was looking forward to this visit because I had a few questions for her uncle. First, where is the Butler Cemetery? You may remember a few posts back when I wrote about John Washington Butler, the man who sponsored Tennessee’s anti-evolution bill in 1925. He is buried in Butler Cemetery, and I wanted to find it.

Her uncle had an idea where it was, and, after our visit, we went looking for it. Luckily, we found it not far from the main road. The small cemetery sits it a grove of trees between a small house and a cattle field.image-39

We found Representative Butler’s headstone and looked at some of the others. One was a Civil War veteran who fought for a Kentucky regiment. I would bet anything that he fought for the Union.

As we walked around the markers, I wondered how many people realized who was buried there. Butler’s bill sparked a debate in this country that continues 90 years later. Now, he lies in a shady cemetery on a country road.

That was interesting, but I also had some other questions for my wife’s uncle. Next, did he go to school with Rita Coolidge? She grew up in Lafayette before going on to marry Kris Kristofferson. She also broke up Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and sang the theme song for a James Bond movie.

While talking about her, my wife’s uncle said that Russell Smith grew up next door. He wrote “Third Rate Romance” and recorded it with The Amazing Rhythm Aces.

I had a third question for her uncle. Does he ever see Nera White? She farms and lives a reclusive life, but she is considered by many to be the best female basketball player of all time. One of the first women to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, she led the Nashville Business College to 10 AAU national championships. In the late 1950s, the US National team won the world championship, and she was chosen the Best Woman Player in the World.

My wife’s uncle is younger than Rita Coolidge and did not know her. He never sees Nera White. However, he lives in an interesting town that has produced some interesting people. I still have the same thought that I had while walking through the Butler Cemetery. I wonder how many people know about those who came before.


9 Responses to “The Lafayette Expedition”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong June 17, 2015 at 03:34 #

    Old graveyards and headstones get one thinking about the past and future. I feel the same way walking around archaeological sites. Where are they now? Obviously, exactly we will be … ultimately. Very interesting post. I don’t think we have anyone particularly noteworthy in our local revolutionary war era cemetery, but I should go back and take another look. Maybe I missed something.

    • Rick June 17, 2015 at 03:48 #

      Something interesting can always be found in cemeteries.

      • Marilyn Armstrong June 17, 2015 at 03:52 #

        True. And New England grave yards have some of the strangest inscriptions on headstones.

  2. Andrew Petcher June 17, 2015 at 05:42 #

    I had no idea that so many places and other things were named after Lafayette in the USA. Lafayette’s son was named Georges Washington.
    I Googled Butller – he only gets two lines on Wikipedia, that seems odd, I am sure he must be more interesting than that.

    • Rick June 17, 2015 at 12:49 #

      His is quite a story. There are two footnotes at the bottom of the Wikipedia page that link to a couple of articles.

  3. sittingpugs June 17, 2015 at 13:14 #

    Before we go too far, you need to know that it is not pronounced in the French way. Around here, the emphasis is on the long A in the middle syllable.

    Thus, “la-fae-yet” as opposed to “la-fye-yet” ?

    • Rick June 17, 2015 at 13:33 #

      Yep. It’s hard to describe without pronouncing it. Make it “la-fae-et”.


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    […] The Lafayette Expedition – a historic romp with my wife through a small Tennessee town […]

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    […] Lafayette, Tennessee, which I wrote about a few posts ago, it was the telephone prefix. Growing up, I was always […]

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