John Shearer: Finding Georgia Football Graves Amid Harriet Greve Search

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2023
  • John Shearer

Sometimes I get quite interested in a topic or person usually of historical note for one reason or another, and I end up wanting to write more than one story.

Such has been the case recently with the late Harriet Greve, the former Chattanoogan who went on to become the dean of women at the University of Tennessee and for whom the soon-to-be-razed Greve Hall there is named.

I have no idea if I would have enjoyed getting to know her personally, although I probably would, but my interest in her primarily is that she spent multiple years in each of three cities and towns, just as I have. They were Chattanooga, Knoxville and Athens, Ga.

As a result, I wanted to know a little more about her. I wanted to follow her life all the way to her grave – literally. As a result, after I wrote my story a few weeks back about her and the attractive mid-century former dorm – an article I have linked below -- I felt a desire to find her and her family’s graves.

And while searching for her grave in Athens, I saw several other graves of former Georgia football greats who helped build on the successful legacy celebrated Monday night with the Dawgs’ second national championship in a row.

I knew Ms. Greve’s parents, Charles and Jeanette Greve, were buried in Chattanooga’s National Cemetery, so I stopped by there on Dec. 20 one morning while in that area of town, primarily to visit the nearby Niedlov’s bakery for breakfast.

Since the National Cemetery’s graves are well documented, I thought her parents’ marker would be easy to find after getting the number in Section S. But as I walked around, I became frustrated after continuously finding numbers below and above the one I wanted.

Cemetery grave markings are not an exact science like numerical listings in a book, I was realizing, even in a more efficiently overseen cemetery like this one. So, I became a little frustrated after about 10 minutes of wandering back and forth in that area.

Then I realized section S expanded in kind of an irregular pattern than I originally realized, and I soon found it. Featuring a Christmas/holiday wreath in front of it, it had his unique 1904 death date of July 4 – Independence Day. In abbreviated language, it had some detailed information on the small, engraved shield shape saying that he had been a quartermaster sergeant with Troop B in the 2nd Regiment of the Kansas Cavalry.

My knowledge into the life of a Civil War soldier is somewhat limited, but I assume he rode a horse a little, as probably about everyone did at that time.

His wife’s date of death written on the back is April 4, 1932.

While no more space is available on this marker and there were probably limitations at the time, I learned from earlier research that he had been a doctor and later pharmacist who moved from Cincinnati to Chattanooga before his death. I also learned he had been born in Germany but have not researched enough to learn how he went from Kansas to Ohio.

His wife, Harriet’s mother, was later a career woman like her education-oriented daughters and was a newspaper writer and magazine editor. She was living with her daughter in an apartment by the UT campus when she died.

One can only imagine the times the Greve family visited the father’s grave for special holidays, and when Harriet and her sister, Dorothy, might have visited it after her mother’s death as well.

Hopefully they did not have any trouble finding it like I did.

The next day, as I wrote about in a previous travel story, I went down to Athens, Ga., to visit my alma mater of the University of Georgia and see the men’s basketball team play a Wednesday afternoon game against the UTC Mocs. I was also going to visit my old college friend, Dave Williams, who still lives in Athens, so after lunch we went over to the historic Oconee Hill Cemetery near Sanford Stadium to look for the marker of Harriet Greve.

I had told Dave of my plan beforehand, but while we were there, he also took me by Bulldog Haven, a relatively new area of the cemetery where Bulldog football lettermen and their families can be buried. We saw where former football coaching great Vince Dooley’s grave and temporary marker are following his death on Oct. 28.

We also saw the burial place of the great running quarterback Andy Johnson from the early 1970s, who helped Georgia defeat Tennessee in 1973 after a Vols botched fake punt attempt late that still frustrates UT fans old enough to remember it. He had died in 2018 at age 65 from an illness. Someone had set a Coors Light by his marker, which was reportedly his favorite kind of beer, according to Dave.

There was also the marker of late 1960s standout Steve Greer, who did not let his small size deter him from becoming a good defensive player. He had died from complications of battling ALS in late 2021, three years after he had kindly reminisced about his memories of playing in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas for a story I was writing on the 50th anniversary of that game. It was a contest I had remembered vividly from my childhood.

Also next to his grave was a heartfelt note and drawing done by a grandchild.

We also saw the graves of mid-1980s running back Lars Tate, who died in 2022; early 1980s receiver Charles Junior, who passed in 2018; and early 1970s standout offensive lineman Craig Hertwig, who died in 2012 and whose nickname of “Sky” due to his height is on his marker.

And while we were walking around other parts of the cemetery away from Bulldog Haven while I started trying to find the grave of Harriet Greve, we found the grave of early 1940s great and future automobile dealer Heyward Allen. Also buried around the Allen clan, probably as a complimentary cemetery plot gift from the Allens, was former Georgia football coach Wally Butts, who coached Heyward.

The Allen extended family in Athens also included the still-living David Allen, who was a standout defensive back at Tennessee in the early 1970s and became a urologist.

We had also seen back at the Bulldog Haven the grave of Lou Trousdale Jr., who had been a manager and assistant to Wally Butts while a student at Georgia and was a Marine fighter pilot during World War II. He had also attended Baylor School as a boarding student from 1935-37.

And as we continued to look for Ms. Greve’s grave, Dave found the grave of coach Mike Castronis, who had been our freshmen assistant coach in 1978 and ’79, when I had walked on the team and played some JV ball and first met Dave. Coach Mike, as he was called, was certainly a likable coach, who had battled colon cancer probably in the days before colonoscopies were so common or were emphasized so much.

He had died in early 1987, but I noticed on his grave he was born on July 4 (of 1922), the same day of the year that Harriet Greve’s father had died. Coach Castonis’ widow, Orlean, was born in 1923 and is still living, according to Dave, who is an encyclopedia of knowledge regarding Georgia football history.

But we had still not been able to find the grave of former Dean Greve, a woman who gave much of her life to the University of Tennessee but ended up by the University of Georgia due to her sister’s residency there as the wife of a U.Ga. agriculture professor.

After I had written my story about her being a schoolteacher at City and Central highs in Chattanooga before her roughly 30-year career as the dean of women at UT that lasted into the early 1950s, I received an email from Charles Sedman. He has researched much about the history of Central High, and he pinpointed that she had taught at City High from about 1906-09, and at Central from about 1909-12.

At Central, she had been a history teacher and later pioneering librarian, and her colleagues there included manual arts teacher O.C. Kirkman, who later started the vocational Kirkman High, and future successful Baylor football coach Jim Rike.

While searching for the Greve marker, I was beginning to grow frustrated, as I hate it when I cannot find something of a historical nature for a story. It said she was buried in plot 303 of Section H, and after finding that precise location with the help of one or two grounds crew members who kindly helped me, I could still not locate it.

I went back and forth even more than in the Chattanooga National Cemetery the day before, while Dave continued to find the graves of other people notable in Athens or university history, or simply former acquaintances.

With the time to go to the 3 p.m. basketball game approaching, I disappointedly resigned myself to the fact that I would probably not find it. I thanked the crew for their noble efforts to help me and drove on to the Stegeman Coliseum, but I decided to quickly check around the grave of her sister, Dorothy Jarnagin, which I found somewhat easily in another part of Section H a couple hundred yards away.

I found some graves to some of the Jarnagin children as well, but no Harriet Greve.

Feeling as though I had failed in my mission, I decided to check back with the cemetery via email after I got back to Chattanooga. I received an email with some information that she was buried where I thought, and the person sent me a photo of the grave of another Harriet: Harriet Smith, who is buried next to her and died in 1958, some 11 years before Ms. Greve’s passing.

I sent a followup email realizing I was probably bugging them but have not yet heard back.

One of the grounds’ crew members had also stood near Harriet Smith’s grave while talking to someone back at the office when I was down there looking, so I am beginning to wonder if maybe Harriet Greve did not have a marker, which seems unlikely. Either that, or she was perhaps buried or reinterred someplace else in the cemetery, although the cemetery records seem to indicate she was buried right by Harriet Smith.

So, my search has ended physically for the time being, if not mentally.

Maybe someday I will get a chance to solve the mystery, but I was glad I came and more easily saw so many other recognizable names in University of Georgia history, even if could not find the one person important in UT history.

* * *

To see the first story on Harriet Greve, read here.

* * *

Celebrate Spring With SDMHA's Antique Car Show Cruise-In April 1
Celebrate Spring With SDMHA's Antique Car Show Cruise-In April 1
  • 3/31/2023

Soddy, Daisy & Montlake Historical Association announces their Antique Car Show Cruise-In this Saturday, with "Plenty Burgers" served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 11298 Wall Street (corner of Wall ... more

Book 7 Of The Good Old Days Series Available Now
  • 3/16/2023

Soddy, Daisy & Montlake Historical Association announce the publication of book seven in the series The Good Old Days which began in 1990. The new book visits the war years in the Soddy and ... more

70 Years Ago In Chattanooga, Billy Graham Took Down The Ropes That Separated Blacks And Whites
70 Years Ago In Chattanooga, Billy Graham Took Down The Ropes That Separated Blacks And Whites
  • 3/14/2023

Seventy years ago Chattanooga was preparing for the Billy Graham evangelistic crusade that would make world history. The daily meetings took place at the Warner Park Field House on Third Street ... more