Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Graveyard Rabbit Arrives in Madison County

Welcome to my first posting on the "Graveyard of Madison County" blog!

First, I feel honored to have the opportunity to write about the many old cemeteries located in Madison County. This particular area of Mississippi has always had a special appeal to me. Not only do I love the county's pastoral setting with its many beautiful homes, situated on tree-lined streets, but I can also feel and see the rich history of the area reflected in the culture and the architecture of old and new buildings there.

Much of Madison County's history can be gleaned from its many old and well-preserved cemeteries dating back to the early 1800's. One of these is the Canton City Cemetery, located in the town by the same name that has functioned as the county's center of government for over a century and a half. The large, white-columned courthouse, which makes up the center of the quaint town square, will be remembered by many as the setting for filming the movie made about John Grisham's first book, "A Time to Kill."

One of the most beautiful and interesting small cemeteries in Madison County is located about 5 miles from the town of Madison's Main Street. It is there at the cemetery behind the Chapel of the Cross that a number of old families who had significant roles in the formation of the county are buried. The very well-preserved Gothic-style Episcopal Church and its cemetery are said to be haunted, and the story of the ghost and his ladylove, the church's builder, has been a local legend for over a century. Currently, the Chapel of the Cross is the center of an active parish where members of the parish's "grave committee" actually dig the graves for parishioners and their families who are buried in the cemetery there.
I plan to write about the history of this church, its cemetery, and its century-old legend in future posts.

I cannot write about Madison County, Mississippi, however, without writing about the Natchez Trace Parkway, part of which runs through Madison County near Ridgeland, Mississippi, a growing city that is located on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Ridgeland is a progressive city that boasts the largest population in Madison County. A number of old rural cemeteries that date back to the time of early settlements by colonists who migrated to Mississippi are located in the deeply wooded areas that border the Natchez Trace. It was in some of those early settlements that French traders, members of the Choctaw Tribe, and other early settlers lived, died, and were buried.

Please join me in the coming months as I venture through the old graveyards of Madison County and tell the stories of those buried in them.

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