Mount Gilead Cemetery outside of Sparta, Tennessee, is one of several cemeteries found in mostly Southern states and the Appalachian Mountains containing tent graves. This cemetery has some of the oldest graves featuring this style.
Also known as comb graves, it was initially assumed that they were built to protect graves, but it is now believed that these were likely aesthetic choices. I support this idea. Vernacular headstones often appear in clusters in several cemeteries. For instance, there are a series of cemeteries along the coast that feature what I’ve called “Black Madonnas” since they are only in Black cemeteries. Additionally, many cemeteries along the coast feature a single-star motif on headstones. An example can be seen on the Mary Lemon grave at Behavior Cemetery.