Trunk or Treat and the Cemetery Crawl Were Big HITS!!

Trunk or Treat and the Cemetery Crawl Were Big HITS!!

Mason and I worked at the Trunk or Treat event at our church last week and we had a BLAST! Hundreds of kids attended and it was a very festive night. And, it wasn’t even very chilly!

Isn’t Mason’s mask AWESOME?! He was sitting still like a statue and I (dressed as a nun to keep him in line) would tell the children it was okay to touch it. Then, Mason would jump. Heh…

On Sunday afternoon, I was an reenactor at a cemetery crawl. The cemetery itself was absolutely gorgeous!

This is the headstone of the woman I was playing:

I dressed in an outfit very similar to the one she was wearing in this photo. However, I wore a bonnet because, while I’m no Spring chicken, nothing I did could make myself look as old as she was in that photo.

I had to speak to her descendants, and do a lot of research online to come up with my script. I’m including it here in case you’re curious:

My name is Mary Ann McDonough Bennett. I was born in Bledsoe, TN on October 1, 1825. If I were still alive today, I mean, in PHYSICAL form, like you, I’d be 197 years old! I look pretty good, don’t I?

My grandfather was Andrew C. McDonough, Sr. and he was a revolutionary war patriot, serving as a private in Shepherd’s North Carolina regiment. The regiment fought in the Battle of Brandywine Creek in 1777, which was the second longest day of Battle of the Revolutionary War, with continuous fighting for 11 hours!

My father was Andrew C. McDonough, Jr. He was a veteran of the war of 1812. He was also a wagon builder, and often sold wagons to the Indians.

Oh, and President Andrew Johnson was my first cousin!

When I was just 14 years old, I married Henry K. Bennett in 1839. Yes, our parents married us off quite young back then. Do you know why? Because there would be one less mouth to feed.

My Henry was a very handsome fellow! We had 12 children. Yes, 12!

My husband began purchasing land in Slygo county in the 1850s and, in 1857, we moved onto 320 acres, and built a small log home. We had five children at the time. Can you imagine living in a small cabin with five children, and that another seven would come along over the years? Don’t worry. We added more rooms later!

Right next door was another farm owned by the Morgan family. And, many of the Morgans are buried right here next to me! It’s so nice that they’re still my neighbors.

Back in the 1830’s, Dade County was rugged, and totally disconnected from the rest of the state. When we arrived, things were a bit better but it was still difficult to travel anywhere. The arrival of the railroad changed that later.

Our old farm is currently the Dale Allen farm. If you’re driving your horse and buggy down Interstate 59 near the Slygo exit, look for the white two-story barn. That’s it! That home was built by my great granddaughter and her husband in 1916.

We had a lovely farm! We didn’t have many doctors back then so I planted herbs to treat ailments. We grew a variety of crops, and had livestock as well. Our farm was very successful…until the war at least. And, the children all pitched in to help over the years, of course.

Our children grew up, and married into local families including the Hughes, the Hixons, our next door neighbors, the Morgans, and the Killians. Generations of those families are buried right here! I still have many descendants living in Dade county, including my great great great granddaughter Gail Headen, and my great great great great granddaughter, Donna Street, both of whom attend Trenton United Methodist Church. They’d LOVE to have you join them any Sunday!

Our daughter, Elizabeth, married John Henry Hixson. According to family legend, John Henry was a confederate soldier, and was furious when his horse, new saddle, and new bridle were confiscated by other Confederate soldiers. He left his fellow soldiers, and went to his brother’s house, Andrew Hixson. John Henry said he refused to fight with a bunch of thieves.

According to the family, a confederate patrol came to Andrew’s house, looking for the runaway soldier. John Henry was hiding under some animal hides, and later escaped, and made it to the Tennessee River! He nervously explained his plight to the ferry man, who advised him to “get out about a mile downstream.” He was still on the run, and got shot at in a cornfield but he did not get hit. He found a Union camp outside of Chattanooga, and promptly enlisted to fight against the Confederates.

After the war, John Henry purchased 42 acres from my husband and I was thrilled to have my daughter, son in law, and grandchildren living so close from then on!

My husband had been considered quite wealthy before the war. But, we suffered considerable financial losses during it. Soldiers would come by and take whatever they wanted. In 1878, my dear Henry applied for compensation from the federal government through the Southern Claims Commission. We lost countless livestock and 400 lbs. of produce. We applied for $1,000 but the government only gave us $420.

Part of the claims process required the applicants to provide a deposition proving the person’s support for the Union cause, and lack of support for the rebel cause. In my husband’s deposition, he mentioned what our sons and nephews had done during the war. Here’s one thing he wrote:

“At one time when my son Joseph A. Bennett, who was forced into the Confederate service to avoid conscription, he was in need of a pair of pants. I sent them to him – not to aid the cause but to prevent his suffering.

“My other son named Alexander, a boy under sixteen years, was pressured by rebels to run away from me and go with them to the rebel army in Virginia. He knew I was opposed to his going, and he was gone and in Virginia before I found out where (he) was. I would have given anything I possessed in the world to have him back home, but could not get him back and he remained in the rebel army till the close of the war. I furnished him nothing and was as much mortified at his conduct as a father well could be.”

Alexander later moved to Arkansas and, despite his past behavior, we missed him dearly.

After the war, we kept having more children so we expanded our one-room cabin to four rooms.

We had a well just 20 feet from our back porch, a large barn, a smokehouse, a storage shed, and a work shed that contained a furnace for my son James’ blacksmithing business. We also had an outhouse. Can you IMAGINE sharing an outhouse with that many people?

Our buildings lasted until 1960! Isn’t that amazing? That’s because of the wonderful building skills of adventurous pioneers back then.

As our children grew older, and moved away, they would occasionally come back to visit. Our daughter Verna and her family lived in Chattanooga, When they would come to visit, they would travel by horse-drawn bus, car or wagon on Highway 11 until they got to Morganville. They then needed to walk over the mountain to Slygo Valley. Of course, their visits were quite lengthy because of the amount of effort required to get here!

I don’t like to boast but, when I was not farming and caring for our children, I was pretty good with a needle. One of my quilts is included in the Tennessee state archives quilts of Tennessee collection. It was a 20 point sunflower pattern. My great great great granddaughter painted the pattern and it hangs on the outside of her home here in Trenton, right off of Slygo road. Just a few stone throws away from where my old cabin was.

I died on October 11, 1909 when I was 84 years old. And I’ve been here ever since! My husband and some of my children preceded me in death.

Now before I let you go, I have a scary story to tell you. Something that happened to my mother. One day, somebody knocked on my mother’s cabin door. She opened it, and was shocked to find an Indian standing there covered in blood. He asked her if she had any salt because he had just shot a deer. Of course, being frightened out of her mind, she gave him the salt. Later he returned to our house, and gave our family part of the deer!

It’s time for me to go back to my rest now. Now, you can move along and hear what the beautiful and fascinating Lorenda Killian has to say! Did you know our daughter Emeline married her brother in law? I know you think you live in a small town but it was REALLY small back then!

Have a beautiful evening and God bless you for coming to visit me today!

HAVE A SUPER HALLOWEEN ON MONDAY, EVERYBODY!! We’re going trick or treating with the grandbabies. 😉


Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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One Response to "Trunk or Treat and the Cemetery Crawl Were Big HITS!!"

  1. Pamela Allegretto  October 29, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    What an amazing biography. Thank you for sharing.