ISAAC BYNUM AT MAYNARD COVE
By Dalton J. Nix
One of my sixty four (4) G- Grandparents was named Isaac Bynum. He is discussed by J.E. Bynum at the start of his "History of the Bynum Family", first page, first paragraph, and first sentence: "The father of my grandfather, John Bynum, was named Isaac." He then goes on to talk about other things, but never mentions Isaac again. Maybe that is all that he knew about his great grandfather, maybe the first family did not associate with the second family, and maybe he never visited Maynard Cove in Jackson Co., Alabama. But I have. In fact I have visited on each of the past four weekends, and it has rained every time. Maynard Cove is a wonderful place, and different from other places in a number of ways.
This area of Northeast Alabama was a natural path way for the white settlers as the Indians lost control of more and more of their lands. Some of the settlers found the coves of the area inviting and stayed. This area is north of the Tennessee River, so the decision about where and how to cross the river had not been required. Apparently Isaac and his son James did that while the rest of his family continued on to Blount County. James moved on to DeKalb County later; but Isaac stayed and died in the area at the age of about 87 years. But I do not think anyone has ever identified his grave.
The mountains in this part of North Alabama are bigger and better than they are in Blount County. I know that they are better because they are much bigger. The parts between the mountains are different also. First they are different because they are not called valleys, but coves. Coves are flat from the base of one mountain to the base of the next mountain, really flat. Isaac’s son, Isaac Jr., is reported to have owned 160 acres at the current location of Holland Methodist Church. Isaac Sr. owned a quarter section of good farm land in Range 6. It seems that it would flood in the spring time since it is only 25 feet above the current river level and less than a quarter mile from Robinson Spring, which is just one big swamp today. Maynard Cove appears to be about two to four miles wide on the average and maybe ten miles long, with a number of smaller branches that extent into smaller coves. I did not do any digging but I bet the top soil is six feet deep. The coves appear to have been formed by the top soil washing down from the mountains and then the Tennessee flooding and leveling the cove, until the TVA project tamed the river. The concept of Tennessee River flooding needs additional research but the present river level in that area is 595 feet and Maynard Cove, 8 to 10 miles to the northwest where Isaac Jr.’s farm at Holland Church is located, is 640 feet. The history of the Tennessee River is rich with tales of huge spring time flooding, prior to the TVA dams.
The Holland’s Chapel United Methodist Church is on the corner of the 160 acres that Isaac Jr. owned at Maynard Cove. I looked for a cornerstone with information about when the church was organized, etc. but in the rain I did not spend much time.
Water flow is different from Blount County also. Much of the surface water in Maynard Cove ends up in a sink. This is a reverse spring. Water comes from a spring, it goes into a sink. North Alabama is laced with limestone caves formed by water flowing through the mountains from sinks on one side to springs on the other side, sometimes miles away. The water supply for my town of Madison comes from an underground river that flows from middle Tennessee, a hundred miles to the north.
Jackson County is rich with small old family cemeteries. I counted a total of over 200 listed at http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/al/jackson/cemeterym-r.htm. My first cemetery of interest was the Bynum Cemetery located in one of the smaller branches of the Cove. Before going on my first site visit I located the cemetery on a USGS topo map at lat 34º 06' 07.5"; long-86º 06' 07.5" I then used my lap top and GPS receiver to find the cemetery, and I am glad I did. I do not think I would have ever seen it from the road without the GPS receiver. The map shows the cemetery on the right side of Jackson County Road #533, about a mile from the intersection with #21. But first let me tell you some of the things I have found about Jackson County roads. Many, maybe even most, are dead ends. That is they run and serve the homes and stores in the coves until they hit the mountain, where they dead end. Only a few continue across the mountain. And they all have a county road number proudly proclaimed on a road sign, one sign per road. If you miss that one sign then you are on your own. As I came down the mountain on county road #21 I saw the # 533 sign on the right, after signaling a right turn I exited on a one lane paved road. I signaled not because cars were present, but from force of habit. Maybe I should call it a single lane road and it was paved for only the first 60 feet, almost far enough to serve as the drive way for the house on the corner. Then it became a gravel road, later a dirt single lane road and after two additional houses a single lane with grass and weeds growing under the car. On my first visit I wondered what I would do when I met another car, how could we pass, but in four visits I have never seen another car on Jackson County Road #533. But it was raining each time; maybe they come out in fair weather. Most roads always dead ended at the mountain, but today this road ends at the far side of the cemetery where the farmer has placed a pasture gate across the road. The final half mile of County Road # 533 is his private driveway.
The County Road #533 ends at the far end of the cemetery with a cattle gate. The farmer’s house is off in the distance.
The Bynum Cemetery is fairly large for a family cemetery. About 180 feet long and 120 feet wide, almost 1/2 acre. There is room for over 100 graves, but there are not that many with readable stones. I found 8 graves marked Bynum and I am attempting to identify them as Isaac's descendants. I did not, however, find a grave for Isaac or Blancy, thought to be his second, (or third) wife and the mother of the Jackson County Bynum's. It will be necessary to return in the fall after the grass and weeds have died. It is impossible to see all of the graves now. I have also found 99 additional Bynum's listed in recent surveys for other cemeteries in the county. I am attempting to identify them as descendants of Isaac, and therefore my cousins.
You may have noticed that just like J.E. Bynum, I have not included much information about Isaac. That is because I cannot add to what has all ready been written by two other forth great Grandsons; Bruce Jordan; "Bynum Families of Blount County, Alabama" pages 4-6; and by Bob Baird on his web site "Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet" at <http://home.nc.rr.com/rwbaird/ Both have identi- fied the wife and mother of the Jackson County Bynum's as Blancy, and maybe Blancy HANEY.
Others have listed Blancy Haney with her parents being Isaac Haney and Susan Haney. I found a grave marked as the resting place of Isaac and Susan Haney, at Bynum Cemetery, but the dates are wrong for our Bynum family. They are one generation too young. Also another family has claimed these as the trunk of their tree. So it will take additional research to determine the full relationship of the Haney and Bynum families.
My bottom line is that Jackson County is a rich area for Bynum Family research, and a nice place to work. I have not been to the courthouse, but I am told that many of the county records have been lost over the years to fire and also to action during the War Between the States. This area was important to both sides because of the railroad linking Memphis, Tennessee and Charleston, South Carolina. I have a number of photos and other information for anyone that is interested in also researching the Bynum Families in Jackson County.
From the Four-Families Newsletter, September 2005.