LONESOME HISTORIC SITE
2006 TN-96 • Burns, TN 37029 • 206-953-2766
Copyright © Lonesome Historic Site. All rights reserved.
(January 22, 1859 - May 24, 1899)
Hello, my name is John C. Walraven. I was born January 22, 1859 in Greene County, Indiana. As I grew up, I went to work quarrying rock. I eventually came to Burns, Tennessee and went to work at the Wright lime quarry and kiln. We mined the limestone rock that is in the hillside just across Beaver Dam Creek from The Lonesome Cabin. You can see some of the building stones we provided in the chimney of the Lonesome Cabin. We also cooked the lime rock in our kilns and made cement. It was hard work, but I liked it. Mr. Wright was the owner. He liked me so much that he made me Superintendent over his whole operation. We all worked hard, and made a lot of the finest cement.
When Mr. Wright’s daughter Jennie would visit the lime kilns, she always had a warm smile for me that shook me down to my socks! I got up the nerve one day to ask her to the 4th of July picnic, but first I asked Mr. Wright for his permission. “Why did you take so long, young man? You know I like you. Yes, go ahead and ask her,” he said. Looking back, it was all a blur. A few months later, Jennie and I were married, and Mr. Wright was making plans to pass the quarry and lime kiln business on to me and Jennie and our family.
That fateful day at the quarry on May 24, 1899, the men had drilled lots of holes, loaded them with powder, and as was my custom, I went up there to set the fuses. It was old fuse that had gotten a bit mildewed, but I hated to throw it away without using it. I lit the fuse and ran down the hill. We waited… and waited… and waited some more. Nothing happened. Me being the Superintendent, I didn’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way, so I went up the hill to check on the fuses. As soon as I got there, KABOOM! It didn’t hurt much at all. Me and lots of rock, were flying through the air. I was dead before I hit the ground way down at the base of the hill.
My dear wife Jennie was kin to the Austins and Alspaughs that lived across the creek at the Lonesome Cabin. They made arrangements for my body to be buried in their cemetery. That was a kind thing for them to do, but the sort of thing that kinfolk do for each other in times of grief. It was a sad funeral, with my sweet Jennie crying the loudest. The men were lowering my casket down into the ground with some buggy reins, and one of them slipped-off. My casket went crashing down into the hole, and Jennie fainted…
So here I am, John C. Walraven, waiting for the Lord to call my name.