Note to the reader: Last year I published my firsthand account of enduring Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for the storm’s four-year anniversary. I wanted to write something for the fifth anniversary this year, but as I have not been back to the Gulf area since, I cannot comment on the current state of the area or the lasting effects this disaster has had. There are other, better qualified writers already doing so. So instead, I present to you this tale from the road during my time as a post-Katrina refugee.

You can read my previous piece here.

The town of Bucksnort in Hickman County, Tennessee is absolutely no place to find yourself stranded. Avoid doing so at all costs. If you never believe anything else I say, trust me at least on this.

It has no post office. It’s so small the United States Census Bureau has no statistics on it, so I cannot tell you the population density, other than: ain’t much. Near as we could tell the town was little more than a glorified truck stop, with nothing other than a motel, a diner, a bar/auto mechanic (they shared building space) and a gas station. The beds at the motel were hard as a wooden bench, and the food at the diner, though filling, was an unremarkable selection of standard Southern fare.

While the area is thick with deer, local legend (meaning: printed on the back of a T-shirt sold in the diner) claims that the name actually comes from a pre-Civil War local who sold “snorts” of moonshine for a dollar apiece.

My girlfriend and I wound up there when Lovecraftian noises erupted from our car as we crossed through the state on our way to California from our post-Katrina refuge in Roanoke, Virginia. This was followed very quickly by a shaky, unresponsive steering wheel. With zero chance of making it to Memphis for the night as originally planned, we limped off the freeway into the first town we came to.

If it had just been the two of us, we might have attempted to coax it along to someplace more substantial, but we also had our dog and two uncooperative cats, not to mention what personal effects I’d been able to salvage from our flooded apartment. What remained of our lives was packed into the back of that little two-door Honda Civic, and becoming stranded on a dark road in a strange state was a risk neither of us was willing to take.

The mechanic–a chain-smoking, stringy kid all of maybe nineteen years old, who lived in a room above the bar–had some bad news for us: he did not have all the parts he needed for the repairs, would in fact have to order then from Kentucky, which would take about four days. He was quite likely lying to us (I know for a fact he grotesquely overcharged us), but what choice did we have?

The boredom that followed over those next few days was the worst I’ve ever encountered. My experiences in the hurricane, hellish as they were, were at least not dull, and you knew that sooner or later they would end. This, though, was interminable. There was nothing to do other than eat at the diner and watch Law & Order reruns and crap movies on the one TV station that came in clearly. The motel room was more of a prison cell than a place of rest, the bed a deeply uncomfortable place for sleeping and an even worse one for sex.

We tried the bar one evening after dinner, if for no other reason than to ameliorate the boredom with a bit of alcohol. It was exact kind of dive you expect in a town named “Bucksnort”: the smoke-stained wooden interior, the ubiquitous large belt buckles on the men and peroxide hair and push-up bras on the women, twangy accents and a deficit of complete sets of teeth all around. The largest Confederate flag I’ve ever seen hung behind a stage at the far end of the venue. Though the proprietors were nice folks who bought us the first rounds when they learned we were Katrina refugees, ultimately the booze and conversation couldn’t distract us from the knowledge that we were trapped there.

All of this might have been bearable if we’d been in a good place emotionally, but we were not. Our separate experiences with the hurricane had wounded us both deeply, and the longer we stayed in Bucksnort the faster the small measure of peace we’d found in Roanoke unraveled. My dreams were filled with galvanized corpses of flood victims grasping at me, desperately seeking succor I was helpless to give, and waking every morning was to wash ashore from a sea of guilt and sadness. My girlfriend fared no better with hers.

On our third day there, unable to bear the tedium any longer, one of us—I genuinely forget whom—suggested we hike the trail running up the hill behind the motel. Just to have something, anything to do. It was either that, or endure the cinematic colonoscopy that is Stuck on You once again. So up the hill we went.

It became evident very quickly that no other human had made that ascent in some time; after less than twenty feet the worn footpath gave way to the bramble and detritus of a woodland area well into the act of reclaiming lost territory. There were places where the trees bent together overhead to knit a sort of tunnel, huge primordial spider webs stretched across the expanse. More than once we had to stop to pluck the sticky threads from our faces while the dog romped and frolicked through the underbrush, dashing off after some unseen critter or another, tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.

It took us about an hour to make the climb. The trail banked at one point, curving like a fishhook around the hill’s far side; from the small overlook there all we could see was the rolling auburn-dappled forest of the Tennessee back country in early fall. And when we finally reached the top we found, nestled by itself in the middle of a tiny quiet meadow, a grave: twin obelisks of thick polished granite surrounded by iron fencing.

No one had tended the tiny cemetery in a very long time. One stone had lost the battle with entropy and toppled over onto its side, and both were stained and weathered from long exposure to the elements. The fencing likewise had long since become rusted and warped, parts of it nearly consumed by the surrounding earth.

It was as unsettling a tableau as one could expect to come across in the woods. My girlfriend instantly loved it. “It’s so creepy,” she said, in the exact voice another might say “That’s really cool.”

Creepy, yes, but fascinating, and oddly peaceful. The idea of these two stones, alone in the forest at the end of a long-forgotten path, was something out of a fairy tale. They were very old, too: while much of the writing was worn away, we could still identify them as the markers of J.H. Rains (1845 – 1911) and Margaret Rains (1852 – 1909). They’d been buried at the top of that hill for almost a hundred years, and from the look of things, we were their first visitors in several decades.

The sun was rapidly heading down into the western foothills, so we lingered only long enough to take these few pictures. Neither of us spoke much. We went to the diner and bar that night to ask around, but none of the townspeople we spoke to knew anything about the graves or a family named Rains, or much cared. Their attitude is best summed up by the sweet-natured, wall-eyed waitress who served us dinner: “Well, ain’t that a thing! Now, would ya’ll like to try the chicken-fried pork chops tonight? Gotta nice home-style applesauce and buttered green beans on the side.”

The mechanic, mercifully, had our car fixed the next morning, and $1200 later we were able to leave Bucksnort. We made it without further incident to California, where we began the process of rebuilding our lives; first as a couple, then later as individuals.

I did some cursory investigative work while preparing this essay, but could turn up nothing on J.H. and Margaret Rains in Hickman County or anywhere else in the state, or any trace of a genealogy. I expected this. Given that a Google search for Bucksnort unveils sweet fuck-all, I doubt either their births or deaths were ever recorded on paper.

I wonder about their lives sometimes. Perhaps J.H. had been a Confederate bushwhacker in his youth and a moonshiner later on, Margaret the proper wife 19th century Southern tradition demanded. Had their families owned slaves? How did they make a living during Reconstruction? They must have been persons of some means, as someone put a great deal of time and care into fashioning their burial place.

Likely as I’ll never know. Whoever the Rains once were, all they remain now is a forgotten piece of history tucked away in the Tennessee hills.


TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MATTHEW BALDWIN is a writer, martial artist and all-around misanthrope living in San Diego, California. He's published fiction and poetry in several small literary journals, most of which went out of business soon after. Make of that what you will. He currently holds a fourth-degree black belt in karate, a B.A. from the University of California and an M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans. In his free time he serves as a professional martial arts instructor, working mostly with teenagers. He's currently at work on both a first and second novel, and can be followed/harrassed on Twitter. And please, call him Matt.

172 responses to “The Mystery of Bucksnort”

  1. Ashley Menchaca (NOLAdy) says:

    I feel like thus statement is over-used but I’m going to say it anyway…

    Matt, I really loved this piece.
    Funny and sweet.

    I think that gravesite is creepy in a good way too, but more than that, it’s beautiful. Old cemeteries are full of such mystery and awe. I can spend (and have spent) hours upon hours walking through their narrow paths. Almost like I’m searching for a piece of myself.

    PS- The name BUCKSNORT totally makes me giggle.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I find them interesting too–which is interesting considering I have no interest in being buried in one. I liked walking around the old ones in New Orleans. So much care went into some of those monuments. And it always made me laugh to think about how, when Europeans first settled the area, the just buried their dead the same as anyplace else, not realizing the problems that come with being below sea level–and then every time a heavy rain or flood came through, the earth would spit the corpses right back up.

      Glad you like this one. I figured there are going to be so many retrospective stories and articles published this weekend to mark the 5th anniversary that it might be more interesting to take a different route.

  2. Thanks for this powerful post. I like the matching of one contemporary couple, stranded in limbo, coming upon the graves of another who lived a century ago. Also, the line – “waking every morning was to wash ashore from a sea of guilt and sadness” – packs a true wallop. And all this in what might be the best name ever for an American town.

    • Matt says:

      You know, I never really thought about the parallelism between my (now ex) girlfriend & I and the couple up on the hill. Nice eye there, sir.

      Funny thing about Bucksnort is, it isn’t even the original Bucksnort. The first one was actually in Lincoln County, TN, but was renamed in 1898. No idea why.

  3. Tawni says:

    Bucksnort? Bucksnort? Are you kidding me? Is Doefart just down the road apiece, y’all? After you pass the crick? That’s completely awesome.

    My ex and I had a similar experience when the van containing our worldly possessions broke down in a weird little city near the California border. We were en route to L.A. from Lawrence, KS. Water pump exploded. Late on a Saturday afternoon, of course. Similar hotel room boredom and bad television insanity for a few days. But oh my god, at least it wasn’t Bucksnort, TN.

    That tiny cemetery is so sweet and sad. I want to jump into the picture with five really strong people and put the toppled headstone back where it belongs, fix the fence and plant some flowers. I’m hoping to be parted out like a broken car, donated and cremated upon my demise, but the Rains probably wanted to be memorialized by their cemetery plot. The best thing about this piece you’ve written is that you’ve given them what they most likely wanted; kind remembrance.

    Great writing, as always, Matt. xoxo.

    • Matt says:

      If’n you’re lookin’ fer Doefart, just mosey on down yon road a spell, past the crick. Getcha there faster’n two ticks off a dog’s ass. If’n you swing by Willie’s still, pick me up a jug, ya hear?

      Do you remember which small town near the California border you were stuck in? I’ve been to several. None of them were quite Bucksnorty, but certainly not places where I’d like to spend any substantial amount of time.

      You’d need more than five strong men, I think; probably a couple of mules and a winch and tackle at least. It’s difficult to get any sense of scale from the photos (we didn’t want to risk treading on them, so didn’t step beyond the fencer perimeter) but the one that’s standing is as tall as I am, and thicker. That much stone is going to weigh quite a lot–hence my deduction that the Rains were people of some amount of affluence.

  4. Sarah says:

    I think abandoned and forgotten graves are incredibly sad. I would rather not have a grave at all then to have one so neglected.

    In fact, and my family continues to fight me on this begging me to change my mind, I am largely anti-cemetery. They take up valuable acreage that could be farmland or housing. (Note: I feel the same about golf courses). Anyone who cares to make a pilgrimage to visit me once I’m dead can come see my beautiful urn or shoddily-crafted ash container of some sort at one of my children’s homes.

    Surprisingly entertaining was a fill-in, mid-season reality show last spring (replaying currently, the most recent with Emmit Smith) was Who Do You Think You Are? where celebrities trace back their ancestry hundreds of years. That stuff is cool. I’m sure J.H. and Martha’s births/marriage/deaths are in county records somewhere. Ancestry.com would be a great tool but I think you have to pay.

    This was a great read, Matt, and for the “sea of guilt and sadness” you went through, I’m glad you made it out okay.

    • Matt says:

      What was really sad for me was that no one–and I mean absolutely no one–had any idea they were up there at all. And their level of indifference, coming from a region that usually prides itself on having a good idea about kinship and relations, was almost heartbreaking.

      Yeah, I’m with you on burials. Burn me, donate my organs, use my body for science, feed me to sharks, whatever. Me and my junk are taking up enough space as it is while I’m alive–no reason to keep the habit up once I’m dead.

      I looked at ancestry.com, and you’re right, it’s a pay site. And I honestly didn’t have the free time to conduct as thorough a search as I might have liked. Though that cause has been quickly taken up by others….

    • Dunrandom says:

      In the shorter or longer term, ALL graves are abandoned, eventually to be eaten in the nuclear fires of a grossly-expanding dying sun…

  5. Alison Aucoin says:

    A beautiful expression of the morass and slow moving chaos of the post-Katrina period. This aspect is often left out of the narrative covered (and re-covered by NPR, CNN, etc…). Good job!!

    Here are my thoughts:

    1) Everyone had a Katrina exile time in purgatory (or full-on hell) mine was in Fuqua-Varina, North Carolina. It’s only about 30 minutes from where I live now, but a world away!

    2) I used to live next to an abandoned graveyard of about the same age as the one you found. My puppy Katie was especially fond of resting in the sun on the grave of one Oneida Lopez. Turned out Katie came from the shelter with distemper & after trying in vain to cure her, I had to have her put down. I sprinkled her ashes on top of Oneida’s grave. I like to think that Katie gave (and gives) Oneida some companionship.

    3) Why didn’t you put the names in the tags? Maybe one day someone will be doing genealogical research about them & you could tell them where they are buried.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Alison. That means a lot, coming from a local.

      Yeah, there’s plenty of (good) narratives about enduring the hurricane, about rebuilding afterwards, about changes in the wake…but one of the things that struck me when I was looking for something to write about for the 5th anniversary was the lack of road stories of evacuees. I’m sure a book could probably be compiled of those narratives.

      1.) This might be a story worth telling. Never been to North Carolina myself.

      2.) That’s fantastic! Deserves to be it’s own TNB entry, I think.

      3.) Ugh! I can’t believe I overlooked that. Will correct shortly.

  6. Wonderful work as always, Matt. I also followed the link and read the piece you wrote after your old girlfriend moved out. Powerful stuff, bro.

    • Matt says:

      You’d think discovering a secret grave hidden on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere would cement you together for life, huh?

      But no.

  7. I’m sort of guessing the Rains were passing though years ago, their wagon busted on the side of the road. They were with their son, who late that night murdered them, then squandered some of their fortune on gravestones he could visit for years to come. Oh, and he started the Bucksnort brand which made him wealthy until he died from a rattlesnake bite somewhere in Texas in 1930.

    OK, now that my imagination had its fill, I have to say I love stories like yours. America has many dark secrets, many forgotten and unexplainable. I’m sure the Rain graves are on haunted lands…

    • Matt says:

      That’s not a bad narrative, Nick! I rather like it.

      More than once while I was putting this piece together I thought to myself, “I’m on Nick Belardes’ territory here. Hope he doesn’t mind!”

  8. dwoz says:

    Note to self.

    If you have a name like “Jedediah Hironymous Raines”…

    …make certain you leave enough money for your family to comfortably handle the burial costs, because the headstone engraver is paid by the letter.

    Also, make certain that you pick a stone that is as wide as your name.

  9. Don Mitchell says:

    Matt, I really liked this piece. You captured that “stuck somewhere” ambiance that many of us know. Stuck and waiting for parts so that somebody you don’t fully trust can fix your car, you hope.

    If Amy Shearn’s reading this, I think she’ll love it. In “How Far is the Ocean From Here” she sets up a similar situation, but not in the shadow of a great natural disaster.

    Those tiny plots always raise the same questions: why them? why here?

    Of course you could have asked “why us” and “why here” about your breakdown, too.

  10. dwoz says:

    If I may, I note that if the photo of the cemetery is a good example of what the other three points of the compass are like, then this was an open field until about 30 years ago. Someone mowed that field, with the exception of the oak sapling that started up inside the iron fence, until then, and sometime in the last 20 years cut down that oak, probably because the roots were toppling the monument.

    Possibly the loggers that used that logging trail toppled the stone themselves, when they took that tree. But loggers don’t cut that high off the ground, unless the metal of the fence had become embedded in the wood.

  11. Gloria says:

    Stuck on You is a cinematic colonoscopy. That’s hilarious. I mean, Kinnear and Damon are both tremendous actors. How in the hell did they ever end up making that train wreck?


    Matt, this story is eerie and awesome. I would have said “that is so creepy” in the exact same voice your girlfriend did. I love cemeteries. I love graves. Happening upon some random one would be trippy, but kinda great. And possibly frightening.

    Glad you weren’t stuck there longer than need be. This story would a perfect setting for Psycho or The Hills Have Eyes. Glad it all worked out.

    • Gloria says:

      I’ve recently given up on ever being able to post a comment without misspelling something or omitting a word. Fuggit.

    • Matt says:

      That movie was so damn terrible, and it was playing at least once a day on one of the channels the TV picked up. As I remember we sat through it without really moving or speaking–just numbed utterly by the entire experience. I really think that was pretty much the nadir of our stay there, and the point at which we either had to do something, or just kill ourselves.

      It was indeed a very, very strange thing to come to the top of that hill and find that grave there all by itself. Almost a Blair Witch moment.

      And while I don’t mean to be unkind to the locals, the whole town very much had a Deliverance vibe to it. Just one “Yew gotta awful purty mouth” and I would have been legging it back down the freeway like no one’s business.

  12. Lorna says:

    Hmmmm, well the date is not exact, but it is a J. H. Rains born in TN:


    I enjoyed reading this, especially since I am in the midst of building my family geneology. It often leaves you wondering about the lives of those before you.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I FOUND THEM! I think. I’m pretty sure.


      According to the record for this J.H. Rains, he was born in 1841, but the coincidences are just too much.

      Hickman County, a farmer, etc. etc.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Oh. That URL just turns up the search page. I searched for Tennessee Margaret Rains born in 1852 and found one married to J.H. Rains, Hickman Cty., 1880 TN census.

        • Matt says:

          You both very well may have found them. Someone very research-driven has uncovered a great deal of information on the two of them, which I’ll be posting later today. Thought I’d give everyone else a chance to play–which wasn’t my intent when I wrote the piece–if they were of a mind to.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Anyway. Part of the problem is that free public records searches are obscured by the pay sites.

          Having a shit of a time even finding the public search for the Hickman Country Register of Deeds, so my curiosity is swiftly turning to frustration and rage.

          I will, therefore, wait patiently for the results from this much more patient person, whoever it is.

        • Gloria says:

          I knew someone else would beat me to it, so I didn’t even try. I knew this was a challenge a TNBer would meet head on.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Hey. Why the hell did my old comment turn up in my new comment?

        • No idea, but it’s taken care of.

          Records searches are also difficult since Hickman County is unincorporated. And I think a lot of it is mostly really small settlements, so who knows what there is in terms of local municipal governments to keep records and such.

          Though, given the diversity of people we have here, I wouldn’t be too surprised if an “OMFG –I’ve been there!” comment turns up at some point.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I used to be a land surveyor…or work as one, anyway, so deed records are really the only thing I know how to search with any amount of competence.

          But it hardly does me any good if I can’t go to an actual registrar’s office or find a decent historical search page.

        • Lorna says:

          Sweet! I love to solve mysteries. It’s almost as fun as hunting dinasour bones. 🙂

        • Lorna says:

          Also, sometimes county recorders will have an online property records search although I am not sure that their data bases would go back this far into the records. But it is worth a shot.

      • Lorna says:

        Oh that Martha was a cougar! hehe.

  13. Zara Potts says:

    Bucksnort! You American’s have such funny named towns! I can’t work out why you all laugh when you come here and see ‘Whakapapa.’

    Seriously, this was a lovely piece. Meditative – the calm after the storm, so to speak. But the graves seem symbolic of so much. So poignant and sad.

    I like these pieces of yours, Matt – where you weave in the past and the future with your present. Really nicely done. And the picture of you and your pooch makes me sad.

    • Matt says:

      Too be fair, when said aloud by an English speaker who’s unfamiliar with Maori dialects, ‘Whakapapa’ does kind of sound like a crude term for masturbation.

      Glad you like the structure of these pieces–I always feel a little self-conscious writing memoir of this sort, so it makes me happy to know that the end results are working.

      While I didn’t want to say anything in the body of the piece (preferring to let readers ascribe their own meanings), I think for me–at least at that moment–the graves where mostly a sign that time eventually, inevitably takes all things away. Not the most optimistic thing, perhaps, but what I needed.

      He was a good little dog. Only about a year old at that point.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      “Whakapapa” seems perfectly reasonable to me. It could be right up the road for all I know.

      Then again, I come from a place called “Minnesota,” wherein there is a “Minnetonka,” “Minnehaha,” “Mahtomedi,” “Koochiching,” “Whakon,” “Waseca,” “Nisswa,” “Shakopee,” etc. etc.

    • Simone says:

      Oh, I think most countries have strange names for towns and other places. There’s a farm (or a town) about 200km west of Pretoria called: Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein.

      This translates to: “The spring (lit. Fountain) where two buffaloes were cleanly killed with a single shot”

      • Matt says:

        I just tried to say that out loud and couldn’t do it. What a mouthful! But that translation is hilarious.

        • Simone says:

          Yeah, it is a mouthful! Most of us South Africans laugh at the translation too.

          There are quite a few towns / cities with the word “fontein” (fountain) in it, for example: Bloemfontein (lit. Flower Fountain).

  14. Becky Palapala says:

    Now you’ve got me going.

    I refuse to accept that there is no information on these people. There must be. Cursory searches reveal that “Rains” is a very common name in Arkansas, Tennessee, and maybe even in North Carolina. And I come across a number of John H. Rains in Tennessee, born before this one and some after. They are also, apparently, a family prone to genealogical research.

    Of course, there’s another option: They may have BEEN slaves at birth, in which case they would probably carry the name of their owner and still not appear in genealogical or government/municipal records. Not sure what the going rate on a grave marker like those was in the early 20th century, so maybe freed slaves could or couldn’t afford them. And they may have been brother and sister, not husband and wife.

    This is going to drive me batty.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, okay. There’s a Pruett Cemetary just off I-40 in Hickman Cty., TN within .2 miles of Bucksnort that appears to reside in a clearing in a forest, maybe or maybe not on top of a hill.

      But the google map doesn’t show any motel. And who’s Pruett?


      P.S. MN has a “Bucksnort, too.” Doubtful they have any confederate flags, though.

      • Matt says:

        Right area but that’s not it. The locals did mention Pruett Cemetery to us when we asked about the Rains graves, but it was on a level little patch of earth.

        Google maps doesn’t show the motel, and neither does Google Earth. It’s the building in the very back of the photo I posted, the red one with the green roof.

        There’s been at least one other Bucksnort in Tennessee, in Lincoln County up closer to the Kentucky border, which was renamed in 1898.

        That flag was so damn huge. It would completely cover some of the walls in my apartment. Difficult not to make assumptions as to what sort of bands play there when you see it used as a stage backdrop like that.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Difficult not to, maybe, and racism is everywhere, but despite some of the connotations it has to people who are sensitive to them, to a lot of people, it’s simply a symbol of regional pride–which I probably don’t have to tell you, since you lived in the south.

        • Matt says:

          Oh, sure. And no one, the entire time we were there, expressed any racist sentiments at all. Everyone was unilaterally kind–even the mechanic who was ripping us off.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        You can find the motel at

        35 53.737N, 87 38.508W

        and what’s probably the cemetery Matt saw at:

        35 54.824N, 87 37.501E

        Don’t forget to set Google Earth to degrees-decimal minutes.

        So you worked at a surveying place? Cool. I’m a self-taught cadastral surveyor — my and my 1947 vintage Watts B.53 theodolite leased from a real surveyor in Port Moresby, a 100-metre steel tape (end-plus style) and perhaps my most-studied book “Elementary Surveying Volume I,” by Breed, Hosmer and Bone. I did my trig and DMD area calculations with a slide rule and then an Olympia hand-cranked calculator. This was on Bougainville, of course.

        • dwoz says:

          I’ve got an old Sokkia Theodolite. Used it to re-survey my land, do the layout on my house, and to save my neighbor from relying on a REAL surveyor who was about to make a $250,000 mistake.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Congrats on your relic.

          My dad is the surveyor. I worked for him for 10+ years, off and on. What’s cool about surveying is that it’s 70% research. If you’re doing it right, anyway.

          I love it.

        • dwoz says:

          you’re absolutely right, it is a relic. Amazing how much you can do with it. When I was laying out my foundation, I was able to square it to within half the width of a six-penny finish nail. A 2000 sq foot house square to the width of a 2B pencil mark.

          What I found funny about it, was that a surveyor could do meets and bounds on my rural land to within about 6 inches, but the best he could certify his results for an in-town lot was about a foot or two…at least in terms of conformance to the maps and plot plans.

          The other thing I found funny was that you could in no manner trust existing maps.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          You can see a picture of my antique in my TNB piece “Transit of Venus.”

          My favorite surveying puzzler was when I had to make solar observations for lat/long, in order to anchor my grid. There were no maps good enough to get within a couple of minutes of where I was (which, for any Google Earth fans, was at 6-29.135 S, 155-23.402 E) and I had a good shortwave radio to get the time from WWV, setting the watch pictured in “My Rolex,” and I had my surveying textbook.

          What was fun was figuring out how to duplicate the textbook descriptions of what I should be seeing at the sun’s zenith, because the illustrations were for a transit (erect image) in the Northern hemisphere, and I had a theodolite with inverting image in the Southern hemisphere. So my copy has little suns drawn in around the crosshairs showing how I tried to figure out at which point to make my measurements. I got it done and when I returned to that spot with a GPS, 30 years later, I found that I’d been out only about 100 meters. It really didn’t matter, but I was happy about that.

          I bet we’re the only three people on TNB who know what “error of closure” means.

        • dwoz says:

          You’re WAY out of my league Don. The worst extent of my own grid tasks was to find 4 nearby driven iron pins, at least two of which belong to someone ELSE, with the assumption that at least two of them would still be in the same spot they were alleged to be in, and would have a BM headstamp. Unfortunately, no NGS BMs were close by.

          Amazing how many blunders there were in the stamped maps (likely transcription errors). The boundaries on my 48 acres wouldn’t close to within 50′. That’s like the distance between the earth and Pluto, in surveyor terms. I found the errors and corrected them. Three measurements were out because the surveyor had just assumed that the existing marks were correct, and those marks had been made by LOGGERS, not previous surveyors.

          The murphy’s law of logging is that all the very best trees are bang-on the property line, and so the solution (for the logger) is to move the property line by a handful of feet.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Some maps you can trust. Depends on the type of map. And if a surveyor’s map, depends on the surveyor. As in all things, some people are more meticulous than others. My dad is the meticulous sort.

          I used a total station my whole time surveying. I can’t do the actual math. Or at least not all of it.

          I do know what closure error is, and I can run a traverse by hand (though at this point, I’d probably need a refresher), but I much prefer a TDS.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I’m guessing what a “total station” is and I like what I’m guessing. I’ll Google it.

          Mine at least had an optical plumb, but the distances were 100% measured by tape, except when going across river valleys, when I laid out the usual triangle.

          I really liked doing surveying in the field (this is for Dwoz too) because the boundaries of the land tracts were so uncertain and therefore interesting. Most of the tracts were forested. They were 100% oral and not everybody agreed on them. Lots of times the boundaries were little crooked streams. Sometimes like a straight line from the head of one little stream to the head of another. And then the cash crop plantings, and food garden areas, the major rivers, etc. It was really enjoyable. I worked on and off at it for about 2 years.

          The biggest tract we (see http://www.wiasi.net for a picture of the “we”) did was 14.9 km along the boundaries and we had to set 130 corners to get it done (and another 24 to connect it to the grid). It took 12 days. During that traverse on our best day we set 21 corners, and on the worst, just 6. Usually there were just 3 of us, sometimes only 2.

          Sometimes I had a bushwhacker going out ahead cutting sightlines and you can imagine that (as in Dwoz’s example of the logger boundaries) when the sightline hacked out didn’t quite end up where it was supposed to, well . . . .

        • Becky Palapala says:

          The one I used wasn’t entirely different from the one pictured in the wiki page.

          That instrument plus a data-collecting calculator meant I scarcely ever had to hold a pencil, except to mark point numbers on a field map.

          Ah, technology.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Beautiful machines! And a one-person crew under some circumstances. Amazing. I bet they aren’t cheap, though. My theodolite cost $250 (used) in Papua New Guinea in 1972.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          They most certainly are not cheap.

          And my dad does have a robotic one, in addition to the one I used most of the time, but the robot was not as accurate (or as powerful), so he didn’t like using it for setting irons. Mostly we only ever used it when there was tons of location to do. They do MAKE them very powerful and accurate, but he has a sort of bare-bones one.

          And it isn’t fully robotic (though some are). Someone still has to stand there and push buttons on the data collector. But provided you keep the glass visible to the gun, it will follow you as you walk back and forth in the parking lot or yard or street or whatever, shooting whatever you’re shooting.

          It’s pretty nice.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      endquote fail. “Bucksnort,” too.

  15. Richard Cox says:

    This is an interesting piece, Matt, with lots of colorful imagery. I found your words more descriptive than even the pictures you included, which is saying something, since the piece was nowhere near 6000 words. Haha.

    In fact, dare I say this was the milk! Man! The milk!

    And I’m curious to hear what these people searches turn up. Keep us posted.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Richard.

      This piece may be the milk, but getting stuck in Bucksnort sure does shit in the whore ocean.

      I’ll stick those searches up in a bit.

  16. Irene Zion says:

    At my first reading I read that you had a dog and two uncooperative rats with you.
    Cats is the more conventional, if expected, word,
    but when I read something, I read what my brain says to read,
    regardless of reality.

    I love graveyards, especially private, old, hidden ones like this one.
    Glad you took pictures.

  17. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    I love that this has people researching the background of the Rains pair, but I also love how you filled in the blanks of them yourself. There’s a kind of dignity for them in that, I think.

    I tend to obsess over these things. I’ve thought two distinctly curious things when I’ve come across old forgotten-looking headstones in the past. One, that these people are somehow my relatives and that me standing there near them is some kind of closure or solved puzzle. The other thought, maybe these people were complete assholes.

    At any rate, I’m fascinated in reading about *your* reaction to this couple, forgotten in the middle of nowhere, and how it fits into the mosaic of all three stories of your Katrina/post-Katrina experiences. I’m not sure if “fascinated” is quite the right word, but I used “love” twice already …. 😉

    • Matt says:

      Cynthia, you can use ‘love’ as much as you like when I’m around. I assure you, I can handle it.

      Old tombstones are always a strange thing. They can be beautiful, they can be ugly, but ultimately, what they really represent is a mystery. No matter how nice an epitaph might be carved into the stone, it really tells you very little about the person buried beneath.

  18. D.R. Haney says:

    One of these days, I’m going to write a full-length piece about the time I got stranded at a train station in Warsaw on a bone-chilling night. Anyway, I was dropped off there by a friend, now a former friend, and when I later confronted him in LA, he said, “Well, at least you got a good story out of it.”

    So it is with you and Bucksnort. I’m inclined to think kindly of Bucksnort, simply because I enjoyed reading about it here. Meanwhile, we can only hope that someone will bother to make a record of our tombstones a hundred years after they’ve been raised.

    A toast to the Rains clan.

    • Matt says:

      That Warsaw story sounds like one I’d enjoy hearing, be it here at TNB or over a beer somewhere.

      I can’t really maintain any rancor towards Bucksnort–save for that mechanic, the bastard–but I certainly have absolutely no desire to ever go there again. If I were a trucker passing through, I think I might just keep pushing on to the next, larger town.

      As far as memorials go, I’ve never wanted a tomb or a stone. The best memorial I can think of is having a book or two with my name on them still in print, as lasting part of the public dialog after I’m gone. Barring that, I think I’d be okay with a bench with my name on it erected somewhere I love. Down by the beach, say, or the zoo.

      A toast to the Rains clan, indeed.

      And with that, I think it’s time to go ahead and post the information that was uncovered….

  19. Matt says:

    So Don Mitchell read this post when it first went live and, utilizing his superhuman intellect and powerful anthropologist skills, appears to have successfully solved the mystery of who J.H. and Margaret Rains are.

    From the information he emailed me:

    “Here’s the 1900 census record for Margarett [sic] and John, and their kids.


    Occupation is “farmer,” and he owned his house and could read and write. No mortgage.

    Everybody is educated.

    Thad, Mattie, and James were “at school,” and they could read and write also.

    In the 1910 census, he’s “widowed,” as expected. But the household had a boarder, Kirk Tibbs.

    In the 1890 veterans schedules, there’s a John G Rains listed as having been a Private, enlisted 1862 got out in 1865. Cavalry, perhaps 2nd regiment. But 2nd regiment of what? And, surprisingly, he seems to have been a Union soldier. Hmm. Wasn’t TN a confederate state?

    John G could be typo from John H.

    1880 census he and Margaret have a son John, age 1. Looks like he died before the1890 census.

    and so on.

    Mattie, the daughter, was born March 1889, and one source locates her birthplace at 35 53.5N, 87 41.7W, which is not far from Bucksnort. I don’t have any good way to learn how that birthplace was established. Looks like good land, though.

    I have a wife for Thomas Alfred Rains, born Aug 1883 (who is probably the “Thad” I saw in the 1900 census). But, no kids that I could find, except an adopted one.

    There’s what seems to be a record for one of the sons, where the farm value is $3,000 — much higher than any value on the page.”

    This was followed, a few hours later, by:

    “129. MARGARET ADELINE6 WILKINS (MARY JANE5 BAXTER, VIOLET MARION4 BARRON, JOHN3, >ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER2, >UNKNOWN1) was born January 18, 1851 in Humphrey County, Tennessee556, and died Unknown. She married JOHN HANKS RAINS. He was born in Only, Tennessee556, and died Unknown.

    Children of MARGARET WILKINS and JOHN RAINS are:
    i. MARY HANNAH7 RAINS556, d. Unknown.
    ii. JOHN RAINS, b. 1880, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. EULA RICE556; d. Unknown.
    iii. THOMAS ALFRED RAINS, b. 1884, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. JULIA GREEN556; d. Unknown.
    iv. MATTIE BELLE RAINS, b. 1889, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown; m. JOHN THOMAS MURPHREE556; d. Unknown.
    v. JAMES OTTO RAINS, b. 1891, Only, Tennessee556; d. Unknown.

    There seem to be some living descendants of JH and Margaret’s daughter Mattie Belle. I don’t immediately see how to contact them.

    Also, I’ve hit a dead end with JH and Margaret insofar as finding anything about their lives. I did find an message contact for somebody looking into the Rains family, and I did send a message. We’ll see what happens — probably nothing.”

    So there, it seems, we have it.

    • Lorna says:

      Don that is awesome. I’m curious how you found Margaret’s maiden name? I could not find that, although I did find the census docs with spouse and children. You skills could come in handy for me as I am currently tracing my familys roots. I have made it back to the mid 1800’s but am stuck there.

    • Lorna says:

      Don that is awesome. I’m curious how you found Margaret’s maiden name? I could not find that, although I did find the census docs with spouse and children. Your skills could come in handy for me as I am currently tracing my familys roots. I have made it back to the mid 1800’s but am stuck there.

      Matt this turned into a fun little adventure.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        I was lucky that my son had been visiting me and took our a one-month free membership in ancestry.com, using my computer. So the login information was still there. I got as much as I could using their searches, and then went out with Google. It helped that I learned that J. H. was born in Only, TN, and that it seemed as though Bucksnort and Only were used interchangeably (although I bet they weren’t back when J.H. and Margaret were alive). I started Googling various combinations of names, place names, the county name (Hickman), and so on. That finally led me to the second lising that I sent Matt, which is where I first picked up Margaret’s full name.

        There are online sources for birth and death records, but they are paid sites. I did find one where I could get a short temporary membership, and I might do that today.

        One thing this taught me is that there’s a lot to it (which must be why there are professional genealogical researchers). I did some searching for my father’s people in a small town in Kansas a few years ago, but I did it by going there and going to the courthouse, the historical society, and so on. That was easier for an amateur, because the various staff people were really helpful and used to the kinds of questions I was asking. And of course nothing online can substitute for having somebody say something like, “Go out XXX road into ZZZ county and there’s a little store out there and Mr A, who’s often sitting in that store, knows everything about who lived where . . . .”

        So I’d say that if you can get yourself to where they lived, you’d have a much better chance.

        The only other thing I can say is that it gets better all the time as more stuff comes online. For example, about ten years ago I was looking for somebody who had lived in upstate NY around the turn of the century — just for fun, but spurred on my Matt’s piece I might write about it — and completely failed. But after I got into it via Matt’s piece, I took an hour and found her.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Matt, looking for these people was a lot of fun but the reason I emailed the info to you rather than posting it myself was because I thought your piece was really about strangeness, mystery and wonder (apart from Katrina and the car) and information about who Margaret and J. H. really were would add nothing to that — and might even detract from it.

      So I figured that posting details was your decision. People seem interested in learning about them, so I’m glad you did it, but I still think that your piece was about what J.H. and Margaret represented to you more than who they were.

  20. Lenore Zion says:

    i gotta tell you, man, i got held up with the implication that Law & Order doesn’t count as an awesome activity.

  21. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Although my post-Katrina experience was decidedly less traumatic, I can relate to the empty space moments you describe here. We had no electricity for days and nothing to do but clean up….and it was BORING.

    I believe in karma. The mechanic will get his for overcharging you.

    The little graveyard was quite the unexpected foreshadowing.

    Keep on, keeping on, Matt. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Matt says:

      Boring, and hot and humid all over parts of the south. Deeply miserable combination. Glad to hear you got off easier, at least.

      Arguably, one could say that being stuck in Bucksnort IS that mechanic’s karmic punishment. Sure as hell felt like mine.

  22. James D. Irwin says:

    I loved this, as always with your posts.

    Grave stones, for pretty obvious reasons, freak me out a bit. Especially in isolated wooded areas.

    I used to live right by a cemetery last year at university and a lot of the graves there are so old you can’t read them any more. The earliest ones that are still legible come from the mid 1800s.

    I like churchyards though. I like to speculate as to what that name was like as a living person. There’s one headstone where a young man was buried in June 1944. He was a soldier, and it makes me stop every time I go past it. He almost certainly died fighting in WWII.

    This post, actually, has inspired me to do some research on the guy, who wasn’t much older than I am now…

    • Matt says:

      Well, there was no hedgehog to chase around this gravesite (my dog would have loved that). Though if we’d waited long enough, a raccoon or skunk might have turned up. Though I can’t imagine chasing a skunk around a cemetary at night is much fun.

      You should absolutely do that research. Who knows what you might find?

  23. Joe Daly says:

    Matt, there are so many aspects to this story that I liked, but I guess it’s the overall theme of being off the beaten path. Stumbling upon an abandoned and forgotten burial site ranks up there as one of the coolest hiking experiences ever (not to mention fodder for a Sam Raimi movie).

    I remember running the New Orleans marathon, pre-Katrina. We wove through the city on a cool and sunny Sunday morning, taking in lots of mansion-strewn neighborhoods along the way. I’ll never forget coming up on a huge memorial of a Civil War soldier that had “C.S.A.” carved into the bottom in big block letters. It sort of shook me up, and I didn’t realize until later that most surprising for me was the fact that it had not been vandalized, picketed, defaced, or anything like that. It just stood there as a reminder of where LA stood in the War of Northern Aggression. Northerners like me sometimes forget that for many, like your friends in Bucksnort, old loyalties die hard.

    Good stuff, man.

    • Matt says:

      Actually, that’s not a bad comparison. The entire experience of being stuck there is non unlike what you might get if Sam Raimi and David Lynch got together to make a film; equal parts Twin Peaks and The Evil Dead.

      I was very taken aback when I first moved to New Orleans and discovered how deep-rooted Confederate loyalty was among some folks. My girlfriend and I got into more than one heated discussion about what the Confederate flag means as post-Civil War symbol.

      Glad you liked, man.

      • Joe Daly says:

        Sounds like someone should be breaking out his screenplay writing software!

        I can only imagine how much of the CSA undercurrents you experienced when you lived there. Was it pervasive at all, or mainly fringe?

        I remember getting a tattoo there a number of years ago, and halfway through the ink, the artists’s friend walked in and they started shooting the shit about a white supremacy meeting that they had recently attended. Needless to say, when I got back to the hotel, I had my buddies examine the tattoo (it was on my back) to make sure that he didn’t sneak in any unwanted symbols into the piece, as some artists are wont to do.

        Strange times. Next time I see you, you’ll have to tell me more about your time there.

        • Matt says:

          Mmmmm…..pervasive, but it depended on what particular demographic you happened to be talking to. The sentiment was obviously not something shared by non-whites in the city. But among whites–especially, I’d say, those who’s families had been rooted in the area for decades–there was an occasional trend to see the CSA flag as a symbol of rebellion in the face of tyranny, regardless of what it may or may not have stood for. The “well, the war wasn’t just about slavery” arugment came up a lot, even from some locals I knew who vehemently repudiated slavery as an institution.

          And there were plenty of times I heard/witnessed a casual type of racism one doesn’t frequently see in California. Your encounter in the tattoo parlor was a perfect example of that, and the assumption that it was always “safe” to talk about that sort of thing among other whites. The first job I had out there–right when I arrived, before school started–was at the Tulane bookstore. While working this job I heard a tenured professor refer to black people as “those Negroes” which just floored me.

  24. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Matt, very cool piece but I think the comments – and subsequent Scooby-Doo investigation – may have outdone it! Well, except for the strategic use of “sweet fuck-all”, which made me guffaw. Loudly.

    Many lifetimes ago, I was a boy visiting my sister in Redwood City. I stumbled across an abandoned cemetery… in the middle of the city. Overgrown, unvisited, decrepit, the few folks that acknowledged knowing it was there called it “the old voodoo cemetery”. Apparently a lot of yellow fever deaths. I still remember (with more heartbreak, now that I’m a parent) a small plot with a marker in the shape of a crib – apparently three small children from the same family had died within a short span and were interred together. Horrid to see something once done in such love and grief turn to neglect and decay.

    None of that for me, thanks. I’m a “burn me and churn me” type, too. Take whatever parts might be useful, mulch the rest. My kids can use it to amend the soil for their gardens. Whatever.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I expected a little bit of the junior detective stuff, but have been blown away by the amount of information that has been retrieved–waaaaaay beyond what I’d hoped for, and much of it accomplished by Don in just few hours on Saturday morning while I was sleeping in!

      There’s a small graveyard at a historical park not far from where I live. The prettiest, and saddest grave there is one for an infant who died after something like 23 days. Horrifyingly beautiful stone, both in terms of the design and for what it represents.

      I do like your description of the “voodoo cemetary.”

      Burn me and churn me, indeed.

  25. Matt says:

    OKAY. I just discovered WordPress somehow ATE the paragraph explicitly detailing Bucksnort. That has now been fixed. Sorry to have accidentally denied you all the ful Bucksnorty glory.

  26. Firstly, the reason no one knows about Bucksnort is because people probably have trouble coming to terms with the fact that the name is real! Bucksnort? Sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel.

    As for the graves of top of the hills… That’s an interesting parallel with you – stranded.

    In Korea people are traditionally buried on hills. Always seemed like a nice place to me. Like if the dead could see they’d have a nice view.

    • Matt says:

      Seriously! It’s like they were looking for the simplest means of advertising “Back country redneck town full of gap-toothed bumpkins.”

      Never knew that about the traditional Korean burials. Very interesting.

  27. getting stranded is the touchstone for 78% of all good fiction. The other 22% is getting drunk and getting punched. I came in on this way too late to offer anything about the Rains’, not even Claude, but enjoyed it nevertheless, Matt.

    • Matt says:

      You know, if I’d walked into that bar and said something along the lines of “Praise Allah” I might have been able to combine the two experiences. Man, think of the story I could have had then!

      Thanks for coming by, Sean.

  28. Don Mitchell says:

    I mentioned in an earlier comment that I’d left a message for someone who might know something.

    She did.

    Even better is that the woman who replied to my query (I’m not giving her name, because I haven’t yet asked her if she wants her real name posted) has been looking for those gravestones and has been unable to find them. But thanks to TNB, now she knows. Wonderful.

    I’ll quote her two emails (I broke the text up to make for easier online reading):

    Hi Don,

    Thank you so much for telling me about these grave stones. My mother and I are now planning a trip to Bucksnort! Mattie Bell Rains was my Great Grandmother. She passed away in 1986 at the age of 97. Mattie and her daughters did extensive research on the Rains family name and I have all of their findings.

    She was the Great Granddaughter of Captain John Rains, one of the original settlers of Nashville. So how did J. H. and Margaret end up in Bucksnort? At the outbreak of the Civil War, John Hance, the father of John Hanks, sold a portion of land in what is now downtown Nashville for $6000 and moved his family to Dixon, TN, and later to Only in Hickman Co. This is where John Hanks married Margaret Wilkins and raised their family. According to Mattie’s research, they were buried in a community called Spring Hill/Creek, Tn.

    We never knew where that was, and there are so many little communities in that area that pinpointing one that may have been named this or that 100 years ago is nearly impossible. These tombstone are a valuable find for us and I can’t wait to go searching for them. We actually have a framed portrait labeled J. H. Rains and a photograph we think may be J. H. and Margaret. If I can dig them out I’ll post them on ancestry.com.

    But I hope this helps, and if anyone is interested, many of the records to do with Hickman Co. are in the Nashville Public Library, which is where most of Mattie’s research was done.

    Take care,



    I noted something else in the comments in the article. There is a mention of a John G. Rains as a Union soldier. Our J. H. Has an uncle named John Golong Rains, who could be the Union soldier. So if the family had Union sympathies that might be the reason they fled Nashville. Just some food for thought.

    And as for why they are buried in a seemingly uninhabited place, I don’t know. I’m sure Mattie knew where the site was, because she would have been about 19 when her father died, but it is something that has been lost over three generations. I am excited about a new mystery to solve, though, and thank you again for sharing your findings with me. You have given my mind plenty to chew on while I try to stay awake on a midnight shift.


    Thanks, A.P. Thanks very much.

  29. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Very cool, indeed, guys!

  30. Simon Smithson says:

    Matt, as I’ve mentioned in other forums, I really thought highly of this piece. I think you have a gift for describing quiet places. Honestly, that whole relationship should have gone on forever just so you could have a forum for shared memory of the Rains Graves.

  31. Patti says:

    I would like to add a few comments to A.P.’s story since she is my daughter.
    The head stones that you found where indeed the markers of my Great Grandparents Rains. My Grandmother was one of their daughters, they had two daughters & three sons. The first daughter lived only 2 years. Out of the three sons, there is no record of any children born. My grandparents John Thomas Murphree & Mattie Bell Rains, had 6 children. My father being the oldest son.
    We have or had no idea where any were buried.
    I did go to the Only TN data web site and found some interesting info. We knew where the Murphree cemetery was located and it isn’t not to far from Bucksnort. The only info that I had on the Rains was that they were buried at Sugar Creek on the family farm. If you look at the Only Tn data site you can see a Sugar Creek Stream that is listed. What if?
    My daughter and I will make it a day of exploring some time soon.
    I am very sorry for the inconvenience that I know that you went through staying at Bucksnort.
    But THANK YOU.

  32. This is incredible. I know I commented on here before. But it’s great to help people connect to relatives. Even deceased ones.

  33. Matt, I know all of this has already been said, but I’ll say it anyhow: Great work. Loved this. There’s something about the gravestones that is really, for me, the heart of this piece. I did not want to do any research on the Rains couple because I think it retains a certain quality if I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into the image because I’m teaching all about images this week, but the unknown here matches your predicament – post-Katrina, pre-singlehood – well.


  34. Joyce Mayberry says:

    Jonathon Hans Rains was a grandson of the celebrated Indian fighter Captain John Rains. Jonathon had a brother named John Golong Rains who lived in HU. Co.
    Jonathon Hans Rains served in Henon Cross’s Company in the Civil war.
    J.H. Rains and his wife Margaret Wilkins are listed in the Hickman Co. Cemetery book.
    Another grave exists with no marker, with the name of Jim.
    The story is that he was jilted by his girl and one day when his horse came home without him, they found his body and some bottles? It is believed he committed suicide.
    As for Bucksnort, I daresay it is no different than a hundred other truck stops across America. Including New Orleans.
    As for the Register of Deeds, they are county employees who register deeds and they do NOT do land research.
    Hickman Co. Historian

    • GARY BELL says:

      Hans stands for Hance. My Great 4 Grandmother was Elizabeth Hance Rains. Daughter of Captain John Rains and Christiannah Gowan (spelled many ways). Every one of Elizabeths brothers and sisters had the Hance name as their middle name. Settled in Nashville where there is much to read about the Rains family. The only research I found was that a John Hance and a Rains swore allegiance together to the United States of America. Thanks for the extra history in Hickman County. Elizabeth Hance Rains married John Turner Bryan and they moved to and were some of the founders of Denmark, Tennessee. Buried in Ebeneezer Baptist Cemetary.

  35. Mona C says:

    Bucksnort was named after my 6th great grandfather, WIlliam Buck Pamplin. Awesome find on the Rains family tombstones. History needs to be remembered, so many want us to forget it.

  36. Kirk B says:

    Looks like the land and cemetery are owned by the Tennessee Forestland LLC. Approx. 422 acres. I have some undeveloped property between this exit 152 and exit 148 (Hwy 50) on the other side of the interstate. The story of William Buck Pamplin and how the town got it’s name is good one. The Motel you stayed at will show an address of Only, TN.

  37. r.r. hodgens says:

    I can understand forming a tag with a misspelled word, especially when it a common misspelling but I’m of the opinion it should also be accompanied with one of the correct spelling, so that a researcher is not handicapped for their knowledge.

    Therefore, “hidden cemetaries” should be “hidden cemeteries” or both should be included.

    Somewhere in the comments, I heard the query of “how far it was to California, the Pacific Ocean?” or some such. A few years ago that an often traveled route for me to the extent I became familiar with one or two ‘facts’ regarding it; from the 201 mm (mile marker) on I-40 in Davidson county, going west it is approx 1000 miles to the OK-NM State line – right after you pass by the ‘Cadillac Ranch’ and just before reaching the Oasis that is Tucumcari (NM). Its 2000 miles to the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles.

    Bucksnort (or Sugar creek) is (201-152) 49 miles ‘down the road’ from here and I drink my coffee from one of two china cups I bought at the restaurant with you are so familiar; I think you can form a mental image of them even after this long a time (they have a male deer’s image right in the middle of the label, ‘BUCKSNORT TENNESSEE’. Unfortunately, they still have the sticker on the bottom proclaiming them to be ‘MADE IN CHINA’.

    I expect you will continue to receive queries from the descendants and relations of The Rain’s – it is a well known family with an abiding presence in Middle Tennessee. You have provided a fine lesson for all of us that “History Not Written Is Soon Forgot”.

    Best Wishes

  38. Elizabeth P. says:

    Scared out of my wits!
    I ended up in Bucksnort to buy a few dollars worth of gas yesterday.
    I have a relatively decent looking car and was a single female traveling alone.
    As I approached the shabby and beaten down establishment, a man about in his early 30’s violently pushed open the door as I entered and flew past me saying “Oh, I thought you were my wife!”
    One customer was being rung up and another middle aged toothless wonder was clutching a bag of potato chips. He was next, so I told him to “go ahead”(of me).
    He approached the counter, pointed to the deli section and inquired about a hot dog. The woman (toothless, dirty and ball cap laden) said no to the hot dogs, but our full “menu” was on the wall. I had an opportunity to glance around and observed dirt and filth everywhere. Everything was grimy and yellow. I really didn’t know where I was at until I noticed the souvenier case and shot glasses, mugs, etc. had the declaration of “Bucksnort” on them.
    “Bucksnort” I said to myself.
    The man at the counter continued to inquire about the food fair and pointed to something above a grill. The cashier said, “Thems biscuits made fresh this morning. But they’s still soft.”
    I was meanwhile glancing around for an inspection score, knowing full well I wouldn’t find one. I didn’t.
    Out of nowhere this other woman darted from behind me, dashed past me and bolted out of the door, just like the first guy. She met up with him at a rundown pick-up truck parked at the side of the building.
    After all of the conversations at the counter with the food, the customer clutching the chips declared he would get just the chips and $20 worth of gas.
    Meanwhile, door bolting husband and wife team are outside opening the truck doors, closing them, moving hastily around the vehicle and peering through the window, ducking up and down.
    I would be damned, if that woman at the register said, “That ain’t right.” Apparently, she rang THE CHIPS AND GAS UP WRONG!
    She proceeded to pull out all of the money to count the drawer!

    I just thought to myself, I got to get the crap out of here!

    I tore through the door quicker than the first two hill billys, dashed to my car and sped off without even looking back in my rear view mirror,
    leaving Bucksnort behind and my nerves shaken to its core!

  39. Vee Diddy says:

    Bucksnort has a Miranda’s Adult Store. On our way back from Nashville, we were curious about what Bucksnort had to offer. Maybe on our next trip we will check out the graves.

  40. When Twiztid starts feeling the financial pinch, he may cut his publicist.
    The P2P software begins downloading the requested
    torrent in streams from multiple sources. The basis for this is
    because fiber optic cables are made-up of conducting light material and thus transmit the sunlight from the end to another end.

  41. Anticitizen says:

    Hey, from the future. Stumbled across this site while searching for something Bucksnort related. Good read.

    I paused my reading to do some Rains research myself before continuing to read the comments and discover that lots of others were doing the same.

    Fortunately I have the advantage of being in 2015, unlike the people I’m comment alongside, which means I have access to this, I guess: https://books.google.com/books?id=sIE7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA380&lpg=PA380&dq=J.H.+Rains&source=bl&ots=w-8pGtkYDZ&sig=gK6gelds1XoWE4WtoWwWgymrnMU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yo4sVcHwIuXnsASWkYHQDg&ved=0CEcQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=Rains&f=false

    Very interesting reading about ancestors of the grave inhabitants you discovered and their interactions/drama with aboriginal Americans. Fascinating reading there about attempts to ‘civilize’ little Indian boys. Highly recommend.

  42. Stu says:

    Interesting read including the above comments i.e the other Bucksnort encounter.

    But what of the Rains ???

    1910 in the Appalachians could still be considered wilderness.
    I’ve seen many of headstone, a hundred + years old, some even made out of wood up in the front range mtns here in Colorado. You come face to face with the mystery when you stumble upon these. ‘When, Who and How long, and finally Why ?’ are the questions …….

  43. Matt says:

    Eerily similar to an experience my then-girlfriend and I had in 1988, when we had an unscheduled stop at Bucksnort due to gremlins in our borrowed 1982 Ford Escort, which had been eating a quart of oil every 100 miles. The car was choking and stopping suddenly and then magically restarting after resting 15 or 30 minutes, a sequence we’d repeated several times before the car threatened to leave us on the interstate, at which point we headed off the nearest exit: Bucksnort. The mechanic spoke darkly of complicated, expensive problems and we were told to wait a day until another mechanic was available. We had about $200 between the two of us at the time, and of course without modern access to emergency backup funds, things seemed grim. We poked around, recoiled at the hotel room available, had a bad lunch, and tried to make the best of the hospitality offered. On a strange hunch, I bought a bunch of fuel treatment from the truckstop, poured it in the tank, and the engine turned over. We left immediately, figuring being stranded on the highway was probably preferable over the night in the room we’d taken. Whatever promises I made to the Gods of Detroit that day, they got us to Memphis, where we went to a dealer, who found some dirt in the fuel line, which got cleaned out and the car ran just fine thereafter. We joked at the time that the mechanic’s cousin must’ve put it in at our previous gas stop, but then it didn’t seem so funny after some reflection.

  44. Amy Woodward says:

    When I was a small child, I lived in Bucksnort, TN for several years in the early 70’s. My father owned what was then the Farm Boy Truck Stop and the Citco station. We lived in a mobile home that sat close to where the motel is now.

    As children we had a great many wonderful adventures in Bucksnort. I know exactly where the small graveyard is that you mentioned. There were mostly older people living there then, so of course we asked about the Rains. They were once a prominent family in the area, they were not slave owners….no one in the are was. The remains of their home was close to the graveyard, it was difficult to locate in the 70’s, and more than likely very much overgrown now.

    There are some interesting things that you missed, that most of the people there don’t even know about. The area was once heavily populated with Shawnee Indians due to the once large number of creeks in the region. Had you hiked some 200-300 yards farther, you would have encountered an area of Shawnee burial mounds. This is just one of the two that,I knew of in Bucksnort. It was always eerie to visit these sites, you could feel a presence there, you could very much tell that you were not welcome near these spiritual places. The older people always warned us to stay away from these areas. Most of the young people moved off, simply because there are no opportunities there. Therefor, I am sure these places have been forgotten.

    Bucksnort still holds precious memories of childhood, we were never bored. We had one adventure after another there. We built forts in the woods, the gift sop next the the truck stop supplied us with all the fireworks, that any group of kids could want. We were know to catch the woods on fire, and for trying to blow one another up. The creeks were much wider then. We would get an old semi truck inner tube, and float the creeks like Huck Finn. When it started getting dark, we would get out of the creek at any of the several old homes along the creek. The owners would always bring us in, feed us, and call our parents or Mr John Rial,to come get us. John was in his seventies then, and taught us a great deal about the country and the history there. I visited him regularly until his death in the 90’s.

    I could go on for hours. I’m sorry that you missed what once was the charm and beauty of what once was Bucksnort. The goodness of the people that used to be there, and the untouchedness of the nature there, was once truly amazing!


    • Betsy Taylor says:

      Amy, thank you so much for posting this beautiful glimpse of your childhood in Bucksnort. You know it in a way that those of us who happened upon it could never know it, so hearing about your experiences there and your attachment to the town and its residents means a lot.

  45. Gia says:

    Back in 1995, while driving to Arizona from NJ, we decided to take the scenic route and go through the black hills in Virginia. With a trailer attached to my Saturn, we drove through some very desolate and eerie roads which I later regretted. Eventually, a tire blew on the trailer and we were stuck in Bucksnort, TN. We, too had to stay overnight, but luckily only one night. I feel your pain – it is dark and depressing. I never thought I would come across another human who ever even heard of this town! At the time, I could have sworn it said population “12”. I could be wrong,

  46. Maryann says:

    Just at BuckSnort, Tennessee. The motel there was remodeled. Very clean with tile floors and new bed which was king size and slept like a dream. The woman who checked us in had missing teeth and was curious about us. We were nice to her and she warmed up to us really well. The restaurant is brand new now and where I bought my BuckSnort shirt from the woman you encountered and she was as nice a person as I have ever met. We were there in May, not August, but we have more sense than to go off wondering in the thick woods behind the motel. It is rattlesnake infested and I am surprised you and you former girlfriend didn’t get bit or at least your dog’s. Many ticks also.The locals knew better than go up there. I guarantee they know about those two grave sites. They don’t cotton to strangers who come in with the kind of attitude you can’t hide and start asking questions. Those people are a whole lot smarter than you give credit. They sucked 1200.00 out of you. Yeah, if I were you, I’d stay away from them. They may not be so nice next time.

  47. Joan says:

    My husband had relatives living in Bucksnort until about 10 years ago when his maternal Aunt passed away. He wants to go to Tennessee to visit Bucksnort, Centerville and Only. Plan to visit local cemeteries with geneolgy papers in hand. I’m game but think I’ll invest in a couple pairs of snake boots before then LOL. October 2016 we’ll celebrate 55 years of marriage. Seems like a good time to go. Maybe we’ll stay at the Bucksnort Motel and eat at the diner. Only time will tell. I’ll try to remember to post a review when we get back…if we get back.. Wish us lick!

  48. Joan says:

    uh that would be LUCK

  49. Christine Hart says:

    I’m rolling with laughter at this piece. I broke down in Bucksnort in 1988. 4 days in hell while parts were ordered and a $400 fuel pump later we went screaming from that place. We stayed in the motel, ate at the diner and probably dealt with the grandfather of your mechanic. In fact, we may have been the last two people to climb that hill also on our third day. My story so closely mirrors yours it’s creepy. The only thing different was that every female inhabitant was wearing the same crinkle tube tops. It didn’t matter if they were 3 or 93, a truck must have tipped over. Every color in the rainbow. We began to question our sanity. There was also a bit with a tow truck driver abandoning another car on the side of the road, putting his hand on my knee and saying “sweetheart, reach behind that seat and grab me another beer” while our feet rested on dozens of empty cans. 25+ years later and it’s still so vividly awful.

  50. keith waters says:

    Just came across this story searching for local hauntings. I am from Centerville originally. I live in Gulfport now and am familiar with Katrina situation. That being said, you are lucky people. That is a very small, strange community. Especially to urban residents. Just about everyone is related in some way. But they are good, honest country folk that would help anyone. That walleyed waitress is actually a distant cousin that moved here from Chicago! Our ancestors founded Only,Tn. and the latter generations have moved in from up north to continue to occuppy the family farm which is a protected century farm that you drove thru on your way west! The Raines were not moonshiners,nor war veterans. There are several family graveyards there, but do not go messing around them, or hiking thru those woods investigating. I’ll remind you that those folks are old fashioned and they will shoot! There have been a couple of bodies found there , dumped by truckers and a death in the hotel. There is a stone iron ore furnace there that my aunt Sudie said a slave jumped in and committed suicide because he was treated so bad. Bucksnort today is totally remodeled and better and Victor Wooten has a music camp there.

  51. Jim says:

    Matt, I am from Hickman County Tennessee. Sorry you had problems coming through our neck of the woods. I wanted you to know a little about the graves you found. J. H. Rains or Johnathan H. Rains and Margaret were farmers in the 8 district of Hickman County. Johnathan was indeed a Confederate States of America veteran. They had, I think, 3 children at home when Margaret passed away. You will notice that the tombstones were pretty nice and substantial indicating to me that the family was pretty successful. Thanks again for you interesting experience.

  52. Alex says:

    An orange camouflage Bucksnort hunting cap is one of my prized mementos in my collection of memorabilia from places with weird names from across the south. When I was a kid, it seems like every time there was a prisonbreak at the nearby penitentiary in the also-weirdly-named Only, Tennessee, the convicts always headed for Bucksnort. At least that is what it seemed like to a kid watching the local news in Nashville. They certainly wouldn’t have stood out. It’s one hour and a million miles from Nashville if you know what I mean. “Deliverance” country for sure, all the way down to the toothless inbred yokels.

    I did enjoy reading this piece though. You somehow managed to engender sympathy toward a place that is downright wretched. Very poignant.

  53. Tom says:

    I came across this article 7 years after it was written while searching for an address of a different Matthew Baldwin. I’m glad I did. I enjoyed reading it. I, like some others on this site, know exactly where Bucksnort is located. I lived about 25 minutes away, and we, too, also used to make fun of the name “Bucksnort” and the like.

    I wanted to reply to one earlier comment about the Civil War and the allegiance of the state of Tennessee. In short, it was mixed. In West Tennessee, which had the large plantations and crops, they were pro-Confederate as they needed slaves to work the land. In East Tennessee, more of the local people were pro-Union. Keep in mind, Abraham Lincoln’s VP was Andrew Johnson….from East Tennessee. In Middle Tennessee it was really mixed. So, it is not surprising to see some places in Middle Tennessee that had slaves and other places where slavery was opposed.

    Another interesting trivia piece….about 15-20 minutes away is the birthplace of Sarah Cannon. Sarah Cannon Research Center in Nashville is one of the cutting edge research facilities for cancer treatment as well as other disorders. If you are old enough to remember the TV show Hee-Haw (and the Grand Ole Opry), you will remember Sarah Cannon as Cousin Minnie Pearl. Howdy!!!!

  54. Angie says:

    Seriously! It’s like they were looking for the simplest means of advertising “Back country redneck town full of gap-toothed bumpkins.”

    You are so incredibly rude. No wonder your girlfriend left you.

  55. Mae Bliss says:

    I am from Hurricane Mills on Tumbling Creek Road not far from there…and have a band called Bucksnort Beauties with Rebecca Jed. When we met she wanted me to write a bio about a band of girls from Bucksnort. I was all…wait a minute…Imm from around there and showed her my camouflage Bucksnort trucker hat. Then we started writin and you can find us on YouTube and Facebook. Cheers from Bucksnort TN! #hillbilliesforever #countrylikethat

  56. Stacie says:

    I just came across your story today as we are planning a trout fishing excursion. Now I may change my plans…. But, when you started the hike and came to the family cemetery, I was intrigued to find out myself who these people where. J.H. possibly John, as they had a son abt 1870 named John A.. J.H. was a farmer, without sending to States time, this was all I found in an 1880 census.

  57. Jerry says:

    Nearby is a deserted town named “Only.” It consisted of little more than a general store. The proprietor there did not mark the price on any of the goods for sale. When patrons asked the price, the store owner would reply, “Only a dollar,” or “Only 50 cents,” etc.

    We stayed in the same motel as the author when we were visiting some forestland I had purchased in the area. Rooms were only $21 per night, but my son-in-law woke up with a large green centipede crawling on his face and slept in the car.

    In addition to a truck stop, diner and KOA, what’s left of Bucksnort also contains a well advertised adult bookstore named Miranda’s.

  58. JImmy says:

    I stumbled on this piece after Googling “Bucksnort, TN.” We were traveling from Memphis to Nashville and saw the exit signs for Bucksnort. My curiosity led me to seek info on the locale because of the odd name. What an interesting story! Twilight Zone stuff. Or maybe, The Outer Limits.

  59. Kathryn Edwards says:

    Dumbest article ive ever read

  60. Warren Merrill says:

    My wife and I passed through Bucksnort in 1993. We stopped at “the” gas station. I believe the tooth brush was invented at that gas station. Had it been invented someplace else it would have been called a teeth brush.

    While I was paying for the gas my wife (a model) walked in to get a candy bar. The three guys smiled showing their collective six teeth. She decided she wasn’t interested in perusing the candy bars and hurried back to the car.

    I regret I didn’t purchase a Bucksnort hat. But my wife seemed to be in a hurry to get back on the road.

  61. Sw says:

    Have driven by the Bucksnort exit and wondered…now I know. A cross between Doc Hollywood and The Legacy. You should check out Bootjack CA near Mariposa sometime. Enjoyed your story.

  62. Teresa says:

    So. The push up bra part..I found somewhat offensive and personal….but thanks for the review anyway. I just found out I am a direct descendant to the town’s namesake. Information in a family genealogy book notes a distant relative wrote a book aboit growing up in Bucksnort, Tennessee in 1850. Sure enough..when I googled this…there is a book about it. And Im looking for a copy…so then I found your written first hand experience. Thanks!

  63. Teresa says:

    Oops it was 1890!!

  64. Meridel says:

    I was traveling from Lynchburg, Va to y home in Santa Fe, NM a few years ago and noticed Bucksnort on the GPS. I had to stop there. I saw the gravestones (that’s not really a cemetery is it?) but had no idea there was a bar and that makes me sad.

    I have a shirt of which the author speaks and that makes me proud. Why is on one mentioning the led gene of the two men who broke out of jail to get a bologna sandwich at the store/diner? It’s a story I heard from everyone. They knew they would get caught, and were, but wanted that sandwich, and got it. I ordered one. My mistake, but it was fun.

    I LOVE Bucksnort,

  65. Patricia L Etter says:

    I found your article by searching for Bucksnort. I was curious and looked up the cemetery on the findagrave.com website. Sure enough it is listed. In addition to JH and Margaret, there is a son James Otto buried. He was only 19 yr.

    On the webpage it states:
    From The History of Only Wilkins:
    “Jim Rains was found dead by a tree on the road between Taylors Creek and Spot. It was thought that he died of a heart attack.” and
    From Cemetery Records of Hickman County: “The story is that he was jilted by his girl and one day when his horse came home without him they found his body and some bottles. It is believed he committed suicide.”

    I’m amazed that no comments regarding this website, as this is an excellent source for cemeteries. I hope you don’t mind but I did post the two pictures of the gravestones.

    Unfortunately this was not the ‘Bucksnort’ I was looking for so my search continues…

  66. GARY COLLINS says:

    Very nice story! We found the perfect time to visit Bucksnort. Many years ago there was a major meteor shower. We were traveling from Ohio to Florida (by way of Shiloh civil war battlefield) and stopped at Bucksnort because: (1) this was before cell phones; (2) there was a motel off the interstate; (3) the event was at 4:30 AM; (5) how can you go to Tennessee and NOT stop at a place called Bucksnort? Needless to say, the sky was perfect with no light pollution. God only knows where we went as I set my alarm clock for four and drove country roads until I found a clear spot. Sometimes I think of those farm roads in the dark when I’m watching a horror movie. Glad I didn’t know about the cemetery back then. How about a Bucksnort reunion, fellow travelers? Just no guns and no Confederate flags please…you lost.

  67. Maria says:

    Oh, my word, it’s such a miracle that you survived such an ordeal. I mean, only ONE choice of restaurant, and no sushi bar? My, my, my. And only one crappy TV station so you HAD to spend some time outdoors with your dogs like some kind of animal or something? Horrible. You had to endure being in the presence of a Confederate flag? Were the people nice to you? Sounds like they were. Which is more than you were to them. Criticizing people for their dental hygiene and their push up bras and hairdos as if you are so much better. Why? Because you went to college? Because you go to the dentist? Because you wear “better” clothes?

    You should have stayed around and actually had conversations with them rather than being a jerk and only thinking about yourself – it’s called being social and polite. A lot of people have things in their lives that rock their world just like the hurricane rocked yours – and even worse. Tragic events can often help us be more empathetic to people, which I hope has happened with you, and the fawning, slobbering idiots that made a lot of these comments.

  68. Harold Arriv says:

    Do they dress up for Halloween?

  69. Debbie Gibson says:

    I agree it is a very interesting story about really no where. My son & daughter in law are heading to Memphis to see her Mom and texted me that is where they are on the road. So I looked it up and enjoyed your story. Now I am curious about the Rains. I can’t believe you had to pay $1,200 to get your car fixed. That was probably a year’s salary for that young man. (Honestly I hope not). I will keep your name and see if I can find any other stories of yours.

    I am recommending that my kids read your story.

  70. Ian Dotson says:

    I am only familiar with Bucksnort because I.watched wrestling and it is billed as the hometown of Bunkhouse Buck. I have driven through the entire length of I 40 in Tennessee and seen the exit for Bucksnort. I briefly stopped there but it seemed eerie. It would be the perfect setting for a horror movie.

  71. You suck says:

    Such a boring read….just goes on and on wait for it! Wait for it!…..but nothing at all interesting. And it’s so long, so annoying.

  72. Sandy Holmes says:

    Jonathan Hance Rains
    Record information.
    Birth 8 Feb 1841 Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA
    Marriage 29 Oct 1876 Humphreys, Tennessee, USA
    Residence 1910 Hickman, Smith, Tennessee, USA
    Death 18 Feb 1911 Hickman, Tennessee, USA
    Record information.
    Father Jonathan Hance Rains (1794-1867)
    Mother Hannah Hinkle (1806-1884)
    Spouse Margaret A Rains (1852-1909)

    • Sandy Holmes says:

      Wife Margaret was born in Only, Hickman, TN and she died of TB 🙁
      Her husband J. H. Rains died of TB of the bowels and his occupation was a farmer
      They had 4 children which the last one died in 1986.

  73. Tracey W says:

    This message is for Sandy Holmes. Thanks for the info on the J H Raines & his wife. I currently live in Only TN in the Home built by the Lowe Family. On our property is a pre-Civil War Log Cabin that was the original home place. I am intrigued to learn that wife Margaret was born in Only. I wonder if she was related to the Lowe’s. Our Farm is 8 miles southwest of Bucksnort.

    Anyway – I enjoyed reading this story and shared in on my Facebook Page back in 2010 & it just came up in my Memories. Katrina was a major disaster and turning point in many lives. It was horrific to watch on TV so I imagine it was traumatic to live through. We took in some dogs that were left homeless after Katrina.
    I sincerely Hope everyone is staying safe during this 2020 Pandemic.

  74. HT says:

    Kris Kristofferson 1972. From the song Jesus was a capricorn:

    ‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
    Who they can feel better than at any time they please
    Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
    If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me

  75. Julie Brown says:

    I was in Bucksnort, as a young teenager in the early 90’s. From Pennsylvania, we stayed for free on someone’s closed off camp during winter. 5 days with no electricity in freezing temps. We were part of “The World Peace Choir”, there to sing for peace at a Unitarian Church, halfway to Nashville. It was the best experience for me. I felt welcomed by the Shawnee Spirits. Somehow enlightened, matured me quick. Hardest plane ride back to Philadelphia I ever had. That broke me. At 42, I now live about 70 miles away to the east of Bucksnort but I have no idea where we stayed back then. I’m drawn to venture there. I think of it often. I was searching maps online to hopefully view anything that would spark a memory. I now live amongst people you spoke of. Similar to my town. You should feel ashamed. Yankees visit but Damn Yankees stay!

  76. jerry pewitt says:

    unless you grew up there like i did you have no idea what the hell your talking about,the name comes from the large amount of deer that are there nothing else and good country people live there if you dont know what your talking about just shut the hell up

    • nunu hurt says:

      yeah, i wondered why they’d be so close yet so far from davidson county and civilization. it’s only hickman county. hell, luke perry used to live there. bucksnort is a pit stop not the twilight zone. i went to school with some rains girls. i am sure they are kin.

  77. jerry pewitt says:

    if you’ll note at the top he says this is a TALE and a tall one at that i believe less than 50% of it. i grew up there in the 1970s and lived over on sugar creek about 3 miles from the exit and there isn’t much there like the author said that much is true but the people there are kind country folk if you didn’t like the service or the people you could have had you damn Honda towed to Nashville only 56 miles east and had it worked on and really got taken. everything about this farce pisses me off and most motels don’t allow pets so wonder how you pulled that off or is it just more of your tall tale? its just sad you have nothing better to do than cut down people that obviously helped you in your time of need

  78. bea says:

    I drove through Bucksnort about 40 years ago. I collect odd names on the land and the name enchanted me. Only name that intrigued me more was Rising Fawn GA. Thanks to everyone for their recitations of the history which I found fascinating. Only disturbing thing about the reading was the expressions of anger and mockery alike…lean back, enjoy the history, revel in in the names (add in Only, Tennesse for pleasure)

  79. nunu hurt says:

    i went to school with some rains girls in nashville. bucksnort really is just a little pit stop town. when i was in highschool we’d drive thru going to forensics tournaments. the few times we stopped the only good food was the pie. i am sure the rains people i knew were probably relatives. i will forward this story. you never know.

  80. Frank Hartman says:

    So here’s my “ghost story” or guardian angel of bucksnort Tennessee!! Back in 1990 I was home on leave from the marines , I live in a small town called mackinaw city Michigan and I bought a brand new ford escort, after my 2 weeks leave I started my journey back to camp Pendleton California, I’m about 12 hours into my ride and my gas light comes on and I’m like oh shit because its 3 am in Tennessee, i see a sign bucksnort Tennessee 10 miles but i couldn’t even make it then so i find the nearest exit at what i thought was a truck stop but it was a dark empty parking lot, i was like shit what now, i couldn’t go anywhere and in about 5 minutes a vehicle pulls in right next to me , it was a maroon Cadillac and this attractive woman steps out not speaking a word her engine was smoking, it was her radiator! She was looking for water and I had 2 2 quart canteens full of water and I filled it for her! I told her my situation and she told me get in because theres a gas station up the road, I hopped in and her vehicle had pink interior and stuffed Angel’s of every kind in the back seat, angel magnets on the dash, angel everything! Not a messy car but well thought of, I was like whoa! Kinda freaky, so she took me to the gas station and I bought a gas can and filled up! She drove me back to my car and I filled it up and gave that woman a hug and some money and thanked her!

  81. charles ball says:

    Got pulled over right before Bucksnort by a trooper. wanted to know why I did not go to the left lane because of a flashing truck on the right side of the interstate. Wanted to know if I had firearm in the truck Yes i said I am from Oklahoma anyway he did not give me a ticket. I think he thought I was a redneck from Oklahoma which made a lot of difference. I missed the adult book store a videos offered at Bucksnort great loss to me at the time.

    • jerry pewitt says:

      unless your gay you wouldnt like the book store its run and owned by gay people and they own the camp ground thats across the street, i have nothing against gay people thats a choice but the book store and camp ground is a hook up place for god only knows what kind of rif raf my friend lives there in bucksnort as i did in the 70s and he tells me that its just as i said a hook up joint for undesirable gays as is the campground now too

  82. Brent Graham says:

    My wife & I travelled the region on vacation and, rather than telling people we were going to Memphis, Nashville, Nawlins, etc. we told everyone we were going to Bucksnort.
    It is just off the freeway (actually sort of under the freeway)
    Tried to buy a souvenir shot glass but they were sold out.
    High demand item I suppose.

  83. M Bolmida says:

    I travel through Bucksnort from time to time. They serve up a killer bologna sandwich at that gas station. I have many fond memories of wolfing down said sandwiches in the car in the parking lot of said gas station. People are friendly and nice. We need more places like Bucksnort. Not eerie at all, charming and friendly. Those people would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed a shirt. Hopefully that shirt would say BUCKSNORT right on it. Be glad you didn’t end up somewhere that people aren’t so nice, there’s lots of those places. Not very many Bucksnorts, they are far and few between.

  84. Erica says:

    Thanks for the history on Bucksnort. I’ve passed the sign more times than I can count and always wondered how it got its name. Today I decided to Google it and your humorous and very well written story was one of the first results.
    I grew up in a little non-town like Bucksnort, just north in Kentucky, and so much of what you wrote is very accurate to my childhood hometown.
    Man, I hope someone is able to dig up some good info on Mr. and Mrs. Rains!

  85. Rich says:

    I don’t know if you travel much but my buddies and I have traveled in excess of 300,000 miles throughout the USA and Canada in the last 20+ years on our Harley’s. We do our best to stay off the main highways, don’t eat at chain restaurants and try not to stay in chain motels.
    I hope your attitude has changed since you wrote this essay but I found your tone to be a little elitist and demeaning.
    I’ve been to hundreds of Bucksnorts with crappy little motels & bars.
    These folks are the heart of America and would probably help you out in anyway they can. I’m truly grateful that you made it back to California where you can enjoy overpriced restaurants, bars, and motels with fine mattresses.
    Maybe you should travel more and enjoy the people in small town America, who may or may not have all their teeth.
    I will take these folks over anyone who has an elitist attitude.
    Although I think you are a very good writer, you pissed me off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *