A Lovely Sunday for the Cemetery

by Carter G. Baker.

On a beautiful early spring Sunday afternoon, about twenty descendants and relatives of Private Robert Bradfute (1794-1861), a veteran of the War of 1812, gathered in City Cemetery for a dedication of his recently installed military marker. The ceremonies were arranged by Ruth (Bradfute) Heizer of Knoxville, a great-granddaughter of Private Bradfute’s brother, and were conducted by the United States Daughters of 1812.

British Burning Washington during War of 1812 (illustration from Paul M. Rapin de Thoyras, The History of England, from the Earliest Periods, Vol. 1, 1816)

Robert Bradfute was a Virginian, and sometime after 1821, following his war service with the Virginia Militia, he and his wife, née Lucy Ann Vasser, came to Nashville, where he worked as a brick mason. One of the many buildings he worked on was the old insane asylum, which was torn down in 1999 for the new Dell campus on Murfreesboro Road.

In addition to the Veterans Administration headstone for Robert, Mrs. Heizer and her husband Jim purchased monuments for six other relatives buried in the Bradfute lot. The family placed another marker for Lucy Ann, who died in 1826 while still a young mother of three or four children. Lucy Ann is buried about 50 yards from the Bradfute lot on Oak Street.

After the death of Lucy Ann, Robert married Sarah Holman Snead and fathered four more children. Sarah is buried next to her husband, along with one of her children. Robert’s brother Hamilton, his wife Nancy Robinson Bradfute, and their daughter Blanche, are also buried in the Bradfute lot.

William R. Bradfute, the second child and oldest son of Robert and Lucy Ann, served as a captain in the Mexican War and a colonel in the Confederate Army. In 1853 William’s first wife, Ann Bennett Bradfute, only 22 years old, died in Nashville and was buried in City Cemetery, although her grave is not now marked. Colonel Bradfute later moved to Texas, along with other family members. After his death, he was buried in the National Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

A number of Bradfute descendants had come from Texas to attend the dedication ceremony. One of them, Roland Bradfute Jr., Robert’s fourth great-grandson, sang the National Anthem a cappella. He sang beautifully, and everyone present found it especially inspiring to hear the words written during Private Bradfute’s war sung in the shadow of the two flags displayed at the ceremony: the current U.S. flag and the 15-star flag that had been the national flag during the War of 1812.  (2014)

Previously published in Monuments & Milestones, the Nashville City Cemetery newsletter.

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