Revolutionary War veteran’s descendant leads charge to clean up remote cemetery

Dakota Carmichael, along with his father Blaine Carmichael, Gary Love of the Anderson County Sons of the American Revolution and an unidentified representative from the Tennessee Valley Authority recently went to the Rodham Kenner Cemetery on Cherokee Lake to clean up a cemetery that had been overrun with vegetation for decades.

The grave a Revolutionary War soldier lies in a cemetery on an island in the Holston River in Mooresburg.

Mostly forgotten, it was overgrown and neglected until one of the soldier’s descendants discovered his family’s history and organized a mission to clean things up.

The Rodham Kenner Cemetery is located on a land grant from North Carolina that Kenner (1759-1814), received after his service in the Battle of King’s Mountain with John Sevier and the Overmountain Men.

Kenner was born in 1759 in Northumberland, Virginia, according to information from the Tennessee General Assembly Biographical Directory and the Hawkins County Volume of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, He moved from Virginia with his father Francis and mother Elizabeth (Howard) Kenner to Watauga. Francis and Rodham served in the American Revolution and are recognized as patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Kenner fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain at the age of 21 and was a friend of Andrew Jackson, according to “The Records of the Kenner and Savage Families” by Laura Davis Worley, published around 1890.

Rodham Kenner married Malinda Paine in 1786 and lived in the Rogersville area the remainder of his life. Kenner was a member of the Fifth and Sixth General Assemblies representing Hawkins County in Nashville.

He died from a fall from a horse on Oct. 18, 1814.

In recent years, the cemetery in which Keener rests had fallen into disrepair.

Then, about a year ago, Dakota Carmichael discovered Kenner was his multi-generation great grandfather.

“I found out where he was buried and saw the state that the cemetery was in,” Carmichael said. “The last burial there was in 1968 and it had been uncared for since.”

Part of the problem is that the cemetery, located on Tennessee Valley Authority land, is only accessible by boat.

Still, Dakota, his father Blaine Carmichael, Gary Love, of the Anderson County Sons of the American Revolution, and a representative from the TVA decided clean things up.

“The hardest part of the journey was getting permission from TVA to clean up the area,” Dakota said. “All three of us went out there. The TVA representative provided a boat to get to the area because it’s not accessible by foot.”

The crew went to the cemetery with saws, rakes and other equipment to clean the area up. They fixed some of the stone and made the cemetery more presentable, according to Dakota.

It was in tribute to his ancestor who had made a difference in the founding of the country and, of Hawkins County.

“Rodham Kenner had a large part to play in the early history of Hawkins County,” Dakota said.

Love said that his Sons of the American Revolution chapter wants to honor “those fighting patriots that made it possible for all of us to live like we do today.

“A lot of them are forgotten, so this is a way we can say we don’t forget, we appreciate their service, what they did and we understand the hardships they endured,” Love said. “They were a tough bunch of people and they should be honored.”

Dakota won an award from the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance for coverage of Pressmen’s Home in Rogersville. Dakota is also a member of the Hamblen County 150th Anniversary Planning Committee.