When I first saw this beautiful bas relief stone in Richmond Cemetery in Madison County, it seemed a mystery. Two first names on front, Lucy and Nannie; two lovely angels, holding hands, one pointing to heaven. The angels – so young and beautiful – are magnificently carved, and quite easy to see, even after all these years. At the very top is ‘In my father’s house are many mansions.’ And it appears there are rays coming down from the top center. The flowers and plants are exquisite and the shell at bottom center signifies a journey. At the bottom reads, ‘Our only daughter. Her friend and schoolmate.’
On back of the stone, ‘In memory of Nannie J., daughter of William and M. A. Stone, died January 19, 1863, aged 18 years, 9 months and 1 day. Lucy A., daughter of W. S. and M. A. Collins, born February 21, 1846, died May 20, 1863.
With a little research I found the two girls were sent to school in Knoxville, Tennessee when the Civil War began. Their parents thought it safer to send them south to Col. G. W. Churchwell’s school, since Kentucky was occupied by northern troops. Little did the parents realize it may have been better to keep them in Richmond. While at the school the girls nursed wounded soldiers and contracted tuberculosis. They died four months apart.
Lucy’s obituary reads:
‘Died, at Col. G. W. Churchwell’s, near Knoxville, May 20th, Miss Lucy A. Collins, of Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, aged 17 years, 2 months and 17 days.
Her friends, and Kentuckians, are invited to attend her burial at the cemetery, this evening, 21st inst., at 4 o’clock, P.M.
The procession will form at Col. Churchwell’s residence, at 3 o’clock, P.M.’
Perhaps the girls’ bodies were returned to their families after the war. Family lore says that William Joel Collins, 14, brother of Lucy, and a family retainer went to Tennessee ‘to fetch Lucy’s body and bring it back in a spring wagon.’ Lucy and Nannie were buried together, and their names are carved on the same stone.
Lucy’s parents were William Smith Collins and Mary Ann Bronston. Nannie’s mother was Mrs. Mildred Stone.
Mothers of the two girls are buried on either side of them.