A soldier’s homecoming

Posted: February 7, 2017 - 3:36pm

Don Raby has visited New Hope Cemetery several times, but December 29 marked his homecoming. Raby was buried next to his great-great-grandfather Samuel Raby, a corporal in the third Tennessee Infantry during the Civil War. The younger Raby’s service in the U.S. Navy warranted an honor guard 21-gun salute. Raby’s name gave him the distinction of being a member of one of five families who make up a large portion of the 200-plus plots in the cemetery.

New Hope Cemetery is one of seven maintained cemeteries on the Y-12 portion of the Department of Energy reservation in Oak Ridge. More than 70 cemeteries, with headstones dating back as far as 1811, exist in the city and on the reservation, land taken over by the U.S. government as part of WWII’s Manhattan Project.

Raby’s interest in the reservation’s pre-war history led him to compile a collection of photos documenting the approximately 1,000 displaced homesteads on the 59,000 acres known then as the Kingston Demolition Range. Y-12 sponsored Raby and the Pellissippi Genealogical and Historical Society with $1,000 to locate and scan the photos from the National Archives in Atlanta. The collection is available in several local libraries. In addition to helping identify and document several grave sites, Raby also participated with Y-12 in renovating the New Hope Cemetery in 2005, which included cleaning headstones and constructing a fence and entryway.