Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bettie R. and Ben F. Cotten, Camden, MS

The gravestones of Bettie R. Cotten and B. F. Cotten show inscriptions on the base of each tombstone, the simple but meaningful words, "Mother" and "Father." Bettie's epitaph states lovingly "Weep not, she is not dead, but sleepeth."

According to her gravestone, Bettie was born on April 14, December 27, 1860, and she died on March 16, 1933, several months before her 73rd birthday. B. F. Cotten's gravestone shows he was born on December 27, 1853 and died on July 18, 1913. B. F. and Bettie R. Cotten are buried beside each other, next to the north fence, in Good Hope Cemetery, located near to Good Hope Baptist Church in the community of Camden, Mississippi.

The U. S. Census of 1910 shows that Ben F. Cotten and his wife, Bettie R. Cotten, were living in Beat 5, Camden, Mississippi, close to the cemetery that became their final resting places over 20 years later. Ben's occupation, like most of his neighbors, was shown as "farmer." Two of the Cotten family's neighbors were the John B. Allen family and the Barrett family headed up by Richard and his wife, Sallie. Like Ben Cotten, John B. Allen and Richard Barrett were also farmers. The ethnic designation code shown on the census record for the Cotten, Allen, and Barrett families was "W."

In 1910, there were five children living in the Cotten household, Pearl, age 19, Katie, age 12, Hiram, age 14, Fannie, age 8, and McWillie, age 5. John Washington, age 19, who was also enumerated in the Cotten household, is shown as a "servant."

Ben Cotten's parents, according to the census, were each born in North Carolina, while Bettie's father was born in Alabama and her mother in Mississippi. Ben and Bettie, along with all children living in the household at the time the census was recorded, were shown to have been born in Mississippi.

The Washington family, headed by John's brother, James, and his wife, Sallie, are shown in the next household recorded on the census. Monrovia Washington, the mother of James and John, was also enumerated in the Washington household. Monrovia's place of birth, as well as that of her parents, was shown as "North Carolina." At the time the census was recorded, Monrovia Washington was shown to be 83 years old. All Washington family members were shown with the ethnic designation code "B" that was required on the U. S. Census that was taken in 1910 in Mississippi.

When I searched for early census information about other "Cotten" families in Mississippi, I found several families who lived in Leake and Neshoba counties. It appeared that some of these family members had migrated from South Carolina into Mississippi, and some of the families ended up moving to the community of Camden, Mississippi. Oral family histories over many years have indicated that some families who were pioneers in the area around Camden had Choctaw ancestry. Based on the migration path through Leake and Neshoba counties, where many Choctaws settled after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1833, these family stories may be well worth the research involved.

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