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Push underway to preserve historic Bellevue cemetery

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Nashville cemetery dating back to the early 1800s contains dozens of graves no one knew were there until a few months ago.

Some of the earliest founders of Nashville are buried in the family plot, and now preservationists want the public's help saving history.

The cemetery, which is located at 1047 Todd Preis Dr. in the River Plantation subdivision in Bellevue, was a mess when Sanford Payton first saw it a few months ago.

Several headstones had fallen over and others were smothered in high grass and dead tree limbs.

The cemetery is the resting place of the founding father of Bellevue, Abraham Louis DeMoss, whose cabin was moved to Red Caboose Park, where it sits today.

He was a Revolutionary War hero and a millwright whose industry attracted the first settlers to Bellevue, according to Payton, secretary of the Andrew Jackson chapter of the Tennessee Society Sons of American Revolution.

"They built a wonderful future for us," Payton said.

The group had an archaeologist survey the cemetery and discovered more people are buried there than anyone knew.

"And he discovered 67 graves. Since then, in our work here, we've found three more. So we know of 70 graves in here," Payton said.

They are believed to be members of DeMoss's family.

"We would like to see a permanent marker at every grave," Payton said.

There are five DeMoss cemeteries in Nashville, Payton said, but this is the oldest one.

Metro Councilwoman Sheri Weiner is raising money to preserve what she considers a key piece of Nashville's history.

"I think it's a wonderful discovery. It's important for us to respect those people who laid the groundwork for us today and to be able to honor them in perpetuity," Weiner said.

They've raised money for a new marker for DeMoss, and they're taking donations for cemetery upkeep.

They hope the many Nashville descendants of the DeMoss family will form a nonprofit to save a forgotten cemetery.

"I know of people alive today whose great-grandparents are here, and they don't know that," Payton said.

There will be a dedication ceremony for the new DeMoss marker at the cemetery on May 18 at 2 p.m.

Anyone interested in making a donation to preserve the cemetery can contact Sheri Weiner at sheri@sheriweiner.com. People can also donate at a booth for the Friends of DeMoss at the Bellevue Picnic.

See the complete list of DeMoss descendants by visiting: http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/wsmv/DeMoss.pdf.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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