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You have to be special to be in this cemetery

A photo of MaryI made a trip to Red Bay to the Big Bee factory to pick up a new belt for my five foot finishing mower recently.  Red Bay close to the Mississippi state line is the home of Tiffin Motor Homes.  Go during the week and you’ll see motor homes in various stages of completion from a chassis with only the seat and motor to fully finished taking test drives around town. 


 coon dog cemetery entrance 

Troop and Key Underwood

Courtesy of Colbert County Tourism

Coming back home, I decided to swing by the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery deep in the Freedom Hills Refuge as I hadn’t been there since school. We won’t discuss how far back that was.  It is somewhere between Red Bay, Cherokee, Tuscumbia and the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Just about the time I decided that I had missed the turnoff, there it was.  The only thing I met going in and coming back to Hwy 247 was a squirrel.  The cemetery is so peaceful and quiet unlike some of our human cemeteries. 

monument coon dogs treeing coon

Courtesy of Colbert CountyTourism 


Photo courtesy of  Janice Williams, Colbert County Tourism

Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery was started on Labor Day 1937 by Key Underwood when he buried his beloved coon dog Troop and erected a marker in his honor. Troop, a half redbone and half birdsong, was known in the area as the best cold-nosed (meaning he could follow cold coon tracks until they grew fresh) coonhound.  Soon other coon hunters started burying their coon dogs in the cemetery.  Today, over 200 coonhounds from all over the USA are buried at the cemetery.   


In order to qualify for burial: 

Preacher headstone

Black Ranger headstone

No other breeds of hunters or family pets are allowed to be buried at the Cemetery, only coonhounds.  The most popular breeds of Coon Dogs include the Black and Tan, Bluetick, English, Plott, Redbone and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.  The English Coonhound traces their heritage back to the Virginia Hounds imported by George Washington in 1770.  

Sparks Bo

Each Labor Day, the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunter’s Association holds a celebration to honor the deceased four legged friends at the cemetery.  Entertainment includes music, dancing, food and a ‘liar’s contest”. 

After I left the Coon Dog Cemetery, it was lunch at a unique restaurant called the Rattlesnake Saloon. It is a replica of a saloon built under a rock shelter.  You are picked up in the parking lot of Seven Springs Lodge and trucked down to the saloon.  One word of warning, take an ID with you, no matter your age, you will be carded. The saloon is nestled in 20,000 of woodlands, with plenty of trails.  Horses and trail bikes (no ATV’s) are welcomed.  A camp ground and unique bunkhouses are available in two grain silo.  So if you want to get away from it all this is the place. Wifi is available for those who just have to stay in touch with civilization.  A good time to plan a visit is in June during the Helen Keller Festival or in July during the W C Handy Festival where you can chill out and listen to music all week . By the time I got home, there was little time left for my mowing chores. 

Raynor funeral

Photo courtesy of  Janice Williams, Colbert County Tourism

   Little Red funeral

Photo courtesy of  Janice Williams, Colbert County Tourism

On the home front, I finally got my bottom three acres mowed.  I had another little mowing accident. No, I didn’t chop up my cell phone again. If you have used a finishing mower, you know it has two swivel wheels on the back.  I backed up along side on of my bluebird boxes and just as I got close to the metal fence the box was on, the wheel swung around and bumped the post. The post shook wildly and the door popped opened and the nest went flying.  Oh my, I thought, I hope the babies haven’t hatched yet.  They hadn’t.  I straightened up the pole and put the nest back in the box, straightened it back up as much as possible and got down on my hands and knees looking through the tall grass for the Moma birds eggs, but didn’t find any much to my relief.  When I made the next loop around, sitting on the fence next to the box were three angry looking bluebirds.  

We’ve had so much pollen that even the hooligans are sneezing. We had a hard freeze Wednesday and Thursday nights, which bit back my iris that were in bloom and cannas that just coming up.  Even Johnson grass was killed. This weekend I took the tiller through the garden and replanted most of my corn.  The only good stand I have is under a tomato cage that I had lain over the end of the row to mark it.  I wonder if the hooligans have anything to do with that?  I also planted cantaloupes, watermelon and cucumbers.  My three tomatoes that I’ve been overwintering in the garage haven’t made it in the garden yet.  My heirlooms I started from seed have a few weeks before they will be ready for the garden.  After checking the weather report for next week, I was glad I hadn’t gotten them into the ground.  Temperatures in the thirties are forecast.