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THE SHELTERED GRAVE
By Marshall McClung
Visit the cemetery on the hilltop above the intersection of West Buffalo Road and Huffman Creek Road, and you will see an unusual sight, a grave with a shelter built over it. This cemetery is called the Hooper Cemetery by some and the Stewart Cemetery by others. Both Hoopers and Stewarts are buried there. Inside this shelter are the graves of Thomas Jefferson Hooper and his wife Catherine Colvard Hooper.
This sheltered grave came about as a result of Hooper's service in the Civil War. Hooper served in the Confederate Army for the entire duration of the Civil War. He apparently suffered greatly from exposure to the elements. Upon returning home he told family members that had it not been for the soldiers huddling together for body warmth, the surely would have frozen to death. He them made the request that he didn't want Ms bones to lay out in the elements again, and wanted a shelter built over his grave when he died. Family members honored his request and built a shelter some thirteen feet long covered it with wooden shingles called boards by locals. The shelter is presently in bad condition and in need of being replaced. Several of the Hooper relatives are in the process of doing just that.
There seems to be some discrepancy about Thomas Jefferson Hooper's date of birth and detail. The old original gravestone which is hand carved states: T.J. Hooper, born March 24, 1830, died March 22, 1895. The three looks more like a nine than a three. A headstone erected later gives his date of death as March24, 1895. In the book, "Our Heritage - The History of the Hooper Family and Hyde Family", compiled by Betty Hooper Carpenter, his date of birth is given as March24, 1831, and his date of death as March22, 1895. There is also some discrepancy in the dates of birth and death of his wife Catherine whose grave is also inside the shelter. Her headstone lists her as being born June 1826, and dying in July of 1917. The Hooper book lists her as being born in 1834.
Thomas Jefferson Hooper and Ms brother Riley "Rial" homesteaded on several hundred acres of land in the West Buffalo area. They raised large herds of cattle. Thomas and his wife Catherine who was from Monroe County, Tennessee had nine children, five sons and four daughters. Some interesting local facts can be learned from the history of their children:
Enos: Not to be confused with Dr. Enos C. Hooper, the first doctor in Graham County. Hooper Bald was named for him. The Enos we are speaking of here died as a teenager.
Margaret: Born in 1856, married Frank Stanley.
William Hooper: Born in 1858. He was never married, and died on the Oregon Trail. Nancy, born in 1859, married Sam Baker.
General Marion: Born in 1860, he was a noted hunter and settler. He cared for people's cattle grazing in the mountains for $1 per head. He built wagon roads in Graham County and nearby sections of Tennessee, using crude hand tools ofthe day. He built a wagon that was about one half the size of regular wagons that could better navigate the steep, narrow roads of the day. In 1897, he used one of these smaller wagons to assist some surveyors who had a larger wagon stuck below Hooper Bald.
John: John Hooper was born in 1864 and is thought to have died in California.
Patrick: Patrick remained a bachelor until his death at age 34. Patrick Meadows in Graham County is named for him.
Kansas: born 1869, married John Eller.
Erne: born 1874; married Homer Martin Her real name was Elona.
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These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
For additional information on Graham County Adventures
the Travel and Tourism Authority or
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina