Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miss Eugenia Davis's Unusual Grave Marker

Mount Bluff Cemetery is located in a beautiful wooded glen, with trees that are covered with hanging moss so typical of parts of Mississippi. This old cemetery is tucked away in a northwest corner of Madison County, a part that was originally located in Yazoo County, near the town of Flora. The old Balfour family cemetery that dates to the early 1800's is a portion of this larger cemetery area.

Within Mount Bluff cemetery are a number of old graves with unique gravestones and grave markers. But one of the most unique is the pictured here that marks the grave of Miss Eugenia R. Davis. Miss Davis was just months away from her 18th birthday when she died on September 17, 1853.

Although Miss Eugenia Davis's grave marker is fairly large, its size is not its most distinctive feature. It is the design that sets this marker apart from others nearby. While the lower portion of the structure appears to be masonry, the upper portion appears to be metal. The very top of the marker is ornate with a carved floral design and is definitely a tribute to a young woman who died at such an early age.

At the time the U. S. Census was taken in 1850, Eugenia R. Davis was 15 years old and was living in the household of William and Elizabeth Gartley. William, born in Louisiana, was a planter by occupation. His wife was born in Mississippi. Also living in the household were three children with the surname of Davis, Mary E., age 8, Robert V., age 10, and William H., age 13. In addition to the Davis children, three children with the surname of Gartley shared the household, and their names were Martha, age 19, Julia, age 17, and William F., age 15. Since familial relationships were not shown on the 1850 census, it is impossible to determine what relationship existed between the Gartley family and the Davis children. Perhaps the Davis children were nieces and nephews of William or Elizabeth Gartly, or possibly this was an early "blended" family, formed by a widow and a widower who each had children before their marriage to each other.

Three Gartley family members are buried in Mount Bluff Cemetery, including William Gartley's parents, Colonel Gartley and his wife Julia. Elizabeth Gartley, William's wife, who apparently died just four years after Eugenia Davis's death, is also buried in this cemetery.

Tombstone Tuesday

The statue of a young woman, with her head bowed, and holding a small basket in her left hand, graces the grave of Lula Fancher, wife of C. C. Fancher. Lula Fancher's grave monument looks out over Bear Creek Cemetery, near McCool, Mississippi, where a number of other Fancher family members are also buried. Lula Fancher was born in January 1881 and died on December 21, 1905. As her monument states, her age was "24 ys, 11 ms, and 6 ds." Directly below the statue are the words "God is Love."

The inscription on the base of the grave marker, above the name "Fancher" includes the beautiful words shown that C. C. Fancher used to describe his wife:

"As a wife devoted.
As a mother affectionate.
As a friend ever kind and true.
In life she exhibited all the graces of a Christian.
In death her redeemed spirit returned to God who gave it."

Oak Grove Cemetery, Tolarville, MS

I am finding that being a Graveyard Rabbit has benefits besides the satisfaction of writing a post about something that interests me and those who read it. It is also a great way to find new cousins. Today, I received an email from one of my Pettus cousins....a cousin that I have never met. We plan to talk on the phone soon. It seems that my new cousin's great-grandfather, John D. Pettus, and my maternal great-grandfather, William Ezra Pettus, were brothers. I don't know nearly as much as I would like to know about the Pettus family, so I am hoping my Pettus cousin can help me piece together the family tree. I especially want to know about William Ezra's family, particularly the name of his parents.

What I do know is that my maternal grandmother, Rosa Mae Pettus Netherland, was the daughter of William Ezra Pettus, and that he was married to Lucy Lula Trigleth, Rosa Mae's mother. According to my new cousin, both of our great-grandfathers are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery at Tolarville in Holmes County. I am already planning a trip to cemeteries in Coxburg and Ebenezer, where most of my mother's family are buried, and now it sounds as if I need to include a visit to Oak Grove Cemetery, as well.

I am also interested in knowing how my Holmes County Pettus ancestors are linked to the Pettus family of Limestone County, Alabama, and if they are related to former Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus. If you are related to the Pettus family and are interested in more information about these early immigrants from Norwich, England who settled in Colonial Virginia in the early 1600's, please read my post from earlier this year at

Monday, December 29, 2008

Michael E. Haffey, born in County Donegal, Ireland

Michael E. Haffey is one of fourteen Haffey family members buried in St. Mary of the Springs Cemetery, an old Catholic cemetery located near Rayville, in Madison County, Mississippi. Haffey, born in County Donegal, Ireland, was 74 years old when he died on January 7, 1921. He is one of many early immigrants to the United States who migrated to Madison County, Mississippi in the mid-late 1800's who are buried in St. Mary of the Springs Cemetery. Haffey's aged and weathered gravestone is pictured here.

Just one year before Michael Haffey's death, two Haffey households were enumerated on the U. S. Census, taken in Madison County. One household was headed by Michael, a 73 year-old farmer, and included his South Carolina-born wife, Mary, age 67, two adult sons, and four adult daughters. Haffey's parents were born in Ireland, and Mary's parents were born in Germany and England. Michael Haffey immigrated to the U.S. in 1865, was naturalized in 1874, and was the only member of his family not born in the United States. The two adult sons in the household included Jim, a farmer, age 45, and Will J., age 29, a laborer. Two of the four Haffey daughters, Sadie and Kate, were not employed. Maggie, age 43, worked as a bookkeeper, and Edith, age 27, was a teacher. All members of the Haffey household spoke English.

The second household enumerated in 1920 was headed by Catherine Haffey, a 75 year-old Irish-born widow, and both families lived in the Sulphur Springs community near St. Mary's Catholic Church. Ironically, Catherine and Michael died in the same year. Other Haffey family members buried in St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Cemetery are:

Ann Haffey, b. 1877, d. 1954
Catherine Haffey, b 1844, d. 1921
Charley Haffey, b. 1877, d. 1933
Edward Haffey, b. unk, d. unk
James Michael Haffey, b. unk, d. Aug. 14, 1959
Kate A. Haffey, b. unk, d. Apr. 1, 1974
Maggie Haffey, b. 1871, d. 1928
Haffey, Maggie E., b. unk, d. Oct. 9, 1929
Haffey, Mary F., b 1851, d. 1947
Michael Haffey, b. unk., d. Jan. 7, 1921
Patrick Haffey, b. 1845, d. 1899
Sebastian L. Haffey, b. unk, d. unk
William Haffey, b. unknown d. Aug. 4, 1909
William J. Haffey, b. 1891 d. 1948

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Veazey Family Buried in Berea Cemetery

Above: Entrance to Berea Cemetery
Right: Berea Cemetery

Gravemarker for John Henry Veazey, born 1847 in Georgia. Veazey died in Attala County in 1828. Inscribed on the marker are these words: "His words were kindness, His deeds were love, His spirit humble, He rests above."

Gravestone of Isobella Wade Veazey
b. August 5, 1849
d. November 17, 1929
"Wife of John Henry Veazey, Sr."

Berea Cemetery is the final resting place for members of the Veazey Family of Attala County, Mississippi. This family was once headed by John H. Veazey, Sr. and his wife, Isobella Wade Veazey. According to the U. S. Census taken in 1880, John Henry and Isabella Veazey were living in northeast Attala County, in Beat 2, Township 15. John's occupation was shown to be "farmer," and his birthplace, and that of his parents, was shown as "Georgia." In 1880, when the census was recorded, John and Isabella Veazey were parents to five children, William R., age 6, Mary V., age 4, James T., age 3, John H., age 2, and Arther L., age 8 months. The census record showed that all five children, as well as their mother, had been born in Mississippi. Other members of the Veazey family who are buried in Berea Cemetery are:

Arthur Lat Veazey, b. 1879 d 1966
Batha Baba Veazey,
b. Sep. 1, 1889 d. Sep. 24, 1892
Benjamin W. Veazey,
Apr., 1882 d. Mar., 1963
Bessie W. Veazey
b. 1887 d. 1972
James Thomas Veazey
b. Feb. 22, 1877 d. Jun. 14, 1963
Leona Buckner Veazey
b. Jan. 6, 1880 d. Aug. 5, 1921
Maggie Veazey
, b. Mar., 1892 d. March 1937
Rufus Hall Veazey, b. Mar. 28, 1884 d. unknown

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Franklin Cemetery

Franklin Cemetery, located in rural Holmes County, is another very old cemetery in Mississippi that contains graves of those who migrated to the state in the 1800's. Family names of some of those who are buried in Franklin Cemetery include Ambrose, Coleman, Drennan, Gage, Gibson, Lipsey, Noel, Sample, and Wharton.

St. Joseph Cemetery, Gluckstadt, Mississippi

Gluckstadt, which means "Lucky Village" in German, was settled in June of 1905 by five German farmers from Klaasville, Lake County, Indiana, whose names were Henry Klaas, John Kehle, Valentine Fitsch, Peter Schmidt and Joseph Weilandt. Later that year, they were joined by a number of other families. For approximately a dozen years, these families, who shared a common religion, their Catholic faith, met in family homes once a month, when a visiting priest traveled to their farming community to celebrate Mass. In 1917, the community erected a building that served as both school and church. Some years later, the building burned completely, but it was successfully rebuilt and dedicated in June 1929.

Near St. Joseph's Church is the cemetery by the same name that became the resting place for these early settlers and their families. Among those who have been laid to rest in St. Joseph Cemetery are those with the surnames of Aulenbrock, Kiehle, Klaas, Minninger, Schmidt, and Ulrich. Gravestones for some of those names are pictured here

Math Schmidt
b. March 27, 1879, in Germany
d. May 16, 1966

Teresa Hasse Schmidt

b. September 3, 1887, in Klaasville,
Lake County, Indiana
d. July 16, 1956

Anna Miller Minninger, b. September 27, 1890, d. July 12, 1967
John A. Minninger, b. September 23, 1889, d. August 6, 1983

Theresa Callahan Kehle
b. December 5, 1895 in Atlanta, GA
d. December 10, 1980 in Gluckstadt, MS

John Kehle, b. July 2, 1868 in
Hittensweiler, Germany
d. December 24, 1963
Gluckstadt, Mississippi

Henry A. Klaas
b. June 15, 1857
d. May 23, 1916

Mary M. Klaas
b. December 5, 1861
d. November 19, 1937
Note: All photographs are courtesy of Natalie Maynor

Monday, December 22, 2008

Canton Cemetery

Entrance to the Canton Cemetery, located
in Canton, Mississippi, the county seat of
Madison County (Photo courtesy of Natalie Maynor)

A view of this old cemetery that contains
almost 3,000 graves, with many dating back to
the early 1800's (Photo courtesy of Natalie Maynor)

The town of Canton, Mississippi, is the location for this old and historic cemetery, where some families have buried their loved ones for almost two centuries. The cemetery is definitely a place to start for those who are tracing family roots in Madison County or the nearby counties of Attala, Holmes, and Yazoo. The Madison County Courthouse is also located in Canton, and it contains a wealth of genealogy information that dates back to the early 1800's. The courthouse, a large antebellum structure situated in the center of the downtown square, was the setting for filming portions of the movie version of John Grisham's novel, "A Time to Kill."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ezra L. Hearst, buried in Seneasha Cemetery

Seneasha Cemetery, located near Seneasha United Methodist Church, has many old graves of deceased individuals who were born in the 1800's. One of those graves is that of Ezra L. Hearst, who was born May 23, 1873, and who died on July 10, 1908. A number of other Hearst family members are buried in Seneasha Cemetery, near Newport, Mississippi, as well as members of several allied families, including Dickerson, Donald, Holley, McDaniel, Mabry, and Presley.

The monument at the gravesite of Ezra Hearst includes an inscription that states "In Memorium to the Loving Memory of My Dear Husband." Above the inscription are engravings of the fronts of buildings similar to the design of those in Jerusalem or elsewhere in that region of the world. A masonic symbol also appears near the top of the stone.
The name HEARST is engraved near the bottom of the monument, and an inscription honoring the deceased states "His mightiest pursuits form the noblest monument to his memory." According to his monument, Ezra L. Hearst died in Fort Worth, Texas when he was only 35 years old.

According to the U. S. Census taken in 1900, Ezra headed up a household in Newport, Attala County, Mississippi, that included his wife, Ida F. Hearst, born in April 1870, and Elizabeth V. Turner, born in September 1843. Ezra's occupation was shown to be that of "farmer." The birthplaces of Ezra and Ida Hearst were recorded as "Mississippi." Elizabeth Turner, according to the census record, was Ezra's mother-in-law, a woman who was born in 1843 in South Carolina to parents who were born there, as well. In 1900, the Hearst family lived near families with the names of Clower, Donald, Flowers, Nichols, O'Leary, and Ousley.

I have been unable to discover the cause of Ezra Hearst's death in Fort Worth, Texas, over five hundred miles west of Attala County, Mississippi. Based on the loving and respectful inscriptions on his grave marker, I can only imagine that Ezra Hearst must have died a hero.

William Nichols, the Architect from Bath, England

Photo by Natalie Maynor
Entrance to Odd Fellows Cemetery located
in Lexington, the County Seat of Holmes
County, Mississippi

Photo by Natalie Maynor
The inscription on the gravestone of William Nichols (pictured above) includes the letters "ARCHT" after his name, and according to the inscription, William Nichols, a native of Bath, England, died on December 12, 1853, when he was "aged 73 years." The monument marking the grave of William Nichols is one of the oldest in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Lexington.

Photo by Natalie Maynor

William Nichols was a native of Bath, England whose profession was that of architect, as his gravestone states. He is remembered in Holmes County as the designer of the second courthouse in Lexington, Mississippi, a structure that later burned in 1893. Nichols also designed the Old Capitol Building and the Mississippi Governor's Mansion, historic state buildings located in Jackson, Mississippi.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sebastian and Bridget Haffey Burns

St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Cemetery, in Madison County, Mississippi, near Rayville, is the final resting place for a large number of individuals with Irish ancestry who came to Madison County to live in the late 1800's. Some of the individuals buried in this old Catholic cemetery have surnames such as Burns, Doherty, Donahoe, Haffey, McGowan, Murray, Murphy, and Shannon. Two of these families have a large number of their loved ones buried in St. Mary of the Springs Cemetery, and these same two families, Burns and Haffey, had children who married each other.

Bridget Haffey, born May 10, 1869, married Sebastian B. Burns, who was born on October 17, 1866. Sebastian died August 19, 1929, and Bridget Haffey Burns died on June 3, 1939. A picture of their double gravestone, with the name "Burns" inscribed on the stone that separates the two larger stones, is shown here.

Sebastian Burns was born in Mississippi to Patrick Burns, a native of Ireland, and to Sarah Krafts Burns, who was born in South Carolina. According to the U. S. Census of 1870, Sarah and Patrick were living at that time in Police District 4 of Madison County. Sebastian, at three years old, was the oldest of the three children in the household. His siblings were James, age 2, and Mary, age 1, and both children, like Sebastian, were born in Mississippi. The Burns family lived near other families where the adults had been born in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and where the children in these household were born after arriving in Mississippi.

In 1880, when the U. S. Census was taken that year, Patrick and Sarah Burns were still living in Madison County, near Sharon, Mississippi. Their family had grown, and Sebastian (now shown as S. Joseph Burns,) had six brothers and sisters. James, age 11, was now known as "Tim," likely an abbreviation for his other name. And Mary, now called "Annie," was 10 years old. Other children in the household were Sallie, age 7, Joe, age 6, Katie, age 4, and John, age 3. M. J. Krafts, age 71, was shown as Sebastian's father-in-law, and had possibly become a widower at some time during the past ten years.

In 1900, Sebastian and Bridget Haffey Burns, married for four years, were enumerated on the U. S. Census and were the parents of a nine-month old daughter, Annie. Bridget birthplace was shown as Ireland, as was the birthplace of her parents. The surnames of neighbors of the Burns family included both Burns and Haffey, as well as others named Alexander, Boddie, Clanton, Henry, and Luckett.

In 1920, when the U.S. Federal Census was recorded, a birthplace of Mississippi was fairly common among most of the individuals living in close proximity to the Burns family, both adults and children. Sebastian and Bridget had moved to another location in Madison County, near Camden, and they had six children, two daughters and four sons. The children's names were Josephine, age 17, Edward, age 15, Catherine, age 13, twins Paul and Willie, age 10, and John B., age 8. This farm family of eight was shown to be renting their home in a very remote and rural area of Madison County, and economic times were likely tough, to say the least.

Ironically, by 1920, out of several dozen adults living near Sebastian and Bridget Haffey Burns in Camden, Mississippi, their family were the only individuals who had a parent born outside the United States.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Postmaster from Prussia

J. C. Lockenvitz, known as "Julian," was an immigrant from Germany ("Prussia") as his birthplace was shown on the U. S. Census of 1880. His date of birth shown on the gravestone pictured here shows his date of birth as 1833, and his age on the census agrees with the birth year shown.

Julian Lockenvitz's parents were also born in Prussia, and in 1880, he was one of only two individuals living in the United States who had the surname of Lockenvitz. The other individual was Maria Lockenvitz, a servant born in Germany in 1844, who lived in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1880, Lockenvitz had not yet arrived in Holmes County, as he was enumerated in Jamaica, Middlesex County, Virginia. He worked as a "shop clerk," and three other men shared his household there. According to the 1880 census, Lockenvitz was shown as the head of the household, and the three non-related men who lived there with him were I. R. Bland, 20 years old, John E. Wright, Age 18, and Walter Clark, age 17. Bland, Wright, and Clark were all born in Virginia. In fact, all of Lockenvitz's neighbors were also born in Virginia.

By 1900, Lockenvitz was living in Beat 3, Holmes County, Mississippi, and he is shown on the U. S. Census taken that same year as the only person in his household. According to a directory of U. S. Civil Servants published in 1910, Lockenvitz began serving as the Postmaster of the Ebenezer, Mississippi Post Office in 1890, and his salary was $300 per year.

Julian Lockenvitz died in 1915, and his grave is located in the Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery in Ebenezer, Mississippi, near Lexington.

List of Madison County Cemeteries

As The Graveyard Rabbit of Madison County, Mississippi, I feel I should provide readers with the names of cemeteries located in Madison County. During the coming months, I plan to write posts about each of these cemeteries, as well as family stories about those who are buried in them. A list of these cemeteries appears below:

Abernathy Cemetery
Anderson Cemetery
Balfour Cemetery
Canton Cemetery
Chaney Cemetery
Clark Cemetery
Clayton Cemetery
Damascus Baptist Church Cemetery
Dickson Cemetery
Eugene Garrett Memorial Garden Cemetery
Faucette Cemetery
Galloway Cemetery
Good Hope Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery
Haley Cemetery
Hammack Cemetery
Hayes Cemetery
Hinter Cemetery
Jackson Cemetery
Jessamine Cemetery
Jones Cemetery
Leggett Cemetery
Lottville Cemetery
Memory Gardens
Montgomery Cemetery
Mount Able Cemetery
Mount Elam Cemetery
Mount Pisgah Cemetery
Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Natchez Trace Memorial Park Cemetery
New Hope Grove Cemetery
New Mount Zion Cemetery
Pine Grove Cemetery
Prichard Cemetery
Ross Cemetery
Saint Elizabeth Cemetery
Schaffer Cemetery
Shiloh Cemetery
Sneed Cemetery
St. Mary of the Springs Cemetery
Stewart Cemetery
Sulphur Springs Cemetery
Sutherland Cemetery
Tarpley Cemetery
Teeter Cemetery
Tougaloo Garden Memorial Park
Travis Cemetery

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joseph and Zemuly McClesky Guyton

Gravestone of Joseph Guyton and his wife
Zemuly Coats McClesky Guyton in
Ellington Cemetery, Attala County, MS

(Picture taken by Mark Blasingame)

Joseph Guyton was born on April 14, 1805, in Pendleton County, South Carolina, the son of Aaron Guyton, born in Baltimore County, Maryland, and his wife Margaret McCurdy Guyton. Joseph was the 8th of a total of 13 children born to his parents.

Joseph Guyton and Zemuly Coats McClesky Guyton were 23 and 17, respectively, when they were married on March 13, 1828, in Hall County, Georgia. Their first six children were born in Hall County, Georgia, before Joseph and Zemuly moved to Mississippi in 1844. After moving to Attala County, Joseph farmed land there, and he and Zemuly became the parents of three more children. The children's names and dates of birth are:

Martha Margaret Guyton, born February 11, 1829 in Hall County, Georgia
Mary Jane Guyton, born January 1831 in Hall County, Georgia
Aaron Steele Guyton, born March 28, 1833 in Hall County, Georgia
John Whitaker Guyton, born June 11, 1835 in Hall County, Georgia
David Thomas Guyton, born January 29, 1838 in Hall County, Georgia
Harriet Louise Guyton, born June 7, 1840 in Hall County, Georgia
Robert Alfred Guyton, born November 23, 1842 in Hall County, Georgia
Sara Elizabeth Guyton, born July 29, 1845, in Attala Co., Mississippi
Zemuly Matilda Guyton, born February 11, 1848, in Attala County, Mississippi
Joseph William Sutherland Guyton, born September 26, 1850 in Mississippi

On March 17, 1872, Zemuly Coats McClesky Guyton, Joseph's wife, and the mother of his ten children, died, just four days after being married for 44 years. On April 7, 1880, just a week before his 75th birthday, Joseph Guyton died. As you can see in the picture above, Joseph and Zemuly share a common gravestone in Ellington Cemetery, reunited again.

"Taking it to the Grave"

I know you have heard someone during your lifetime use the phrase above. Both literally and figuratively, the act of "taking it to your grave" has been accomplished by many over the course of time. I have read stories about how the deceased was buried with family photos, jewelry, and other items that were dear to them. In the recent past, I recall articles that discussed requests that were carried out for one individual to be buried in his Ferrari, and for other to be buried on his tractor. My own husband wants to be buried with his favorite golf club.

I really thought I had heard it all.

But it seems that I had not heard everything. Today, I read an article on MSNBC's website about something that is happening in our high-tech society that tops all other requests such as those above. It seems that a large number of folks who have
"lived" with a cellphone or a blackberry in their hands, are now opting to carry that same device with them into the afterlife. They are literally "taking it to the grave."

Funeral directors are now routinely receiving requests for cellphones to be left "
on" in the open casket, set with a "ring tone" that had special meaning for the deceased, sometimes a favorite tune. These requests allow friends and acquaintances to call the person after death and to honor them by playing the special tune or to leave a voicemail paying their last respects. These requests, more often than not, include leaving the cellphone or blackberry in the casket with the deceased when burial occurs.

According to funeral directors who were interviewed for the article, at least two problems with this practice have been identified. First, the phone should be turned off before the funeral service. This is not really any different from what we are now asked to do in the movie theatre, in church, or before a event such as a musical performance or a play. Apparently, not remembering to turn off the phone, resulted in persistent ringing, has disrupted quite a few funerals.

Secondly, if the deceased or the family of the deceased has requested cremation, for safety reasons, the cell phone or blackberry cannot be included in the process. It seems this is prohibited, since heat causes most cell phones or a blackberry to explode and to emit toxic substances. In most cremation situations, the intact device is included with the ashes of the deceased in the urn or box that is presented to family members after the cremation has occurred.

So now you see, "taking it to the grave" has yet another meaning.

What will be next?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The McAfee Family Buried at Bethel Cemetery

"Sacred to the Memory of James Taliaferro McAfee, born November 8, 1806, died April 10, 1852" appears on the headstone of James Taliaferro McAfee. The headstone of Rebecca, his wife, shows that she was born in 1811 and died in 1866, fourteen years after her husband. These two early settlers are buried in Bethel Cemetery, beside Bethel Church, an independent Methodist Church located in the community of Hesterville in rural Attala County, Mississippi. The top of the stone marking the grave of James McAfee contains a masonic emblem.

Rebecca McAfee
b. 1811, d. 1866

If naming conventions of the 1800's were followed, James Taliaferro McAfee's mother's maiden name may have been "Taliaferro." According to Wikipedia, "Taliaferro," and its variations, "Tolliver" and "Toliver" were names of a prominent Virginia family who settled there in the 17th century. The name itself is derived from the name "Tagliaferro," meaning "ironcutter" in Italian, and its origins can be traced to Northern Italy. Some well-known individuals with the surname "Taliaferro" include Richard Taliaferro, the architect of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Benjamin Taliaferro, United States Senator from Georgia, for whom Taliaferro County, Georgia is named.

According to the U. S. Census recorded for Attala County in 1850, Rebecca G. and James Taliaferro McAfee lived with their 11 children in Township 14, Range 6 East. Rebecca was shown to be 39 years old and James was 43. The birthplace of each was shown to be North Carolina. James's occupation was shown as "farmer" and the value of real estate he owned was $2,000. Apparently, the couple lived in Georgia for some time before settling in Mississippi, since their six oldest children shown on the census were shown to have been born in that state. The five youngest children of Rebecca and James were all born in Mississippi. According to the census, their names and ages were Robert G., age 18, Marshal D., age 16, Samuel H., age 14, Elizabeth, M., age 12, John M., age 10, Abrmins I.F., age 9, William I., age 7, Susan M., age 5, Sarah R., age 4, Germernah, age 2, and Missouri, age 6 months.

Bethel Independent Methodist Church
Hesterville, Attala County, Mississippi

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Porter Family in Oregon Cemetery

This headstone of J. M. Porter, who died on November 22, 1861, is inscribed simply with "Father" and "aged 72 years and 5 months." My great-greatgrandfather, who lived in Attala County, was also named J(ames) M. Porter, and I have been unable to determine the exact relationship of these two individuals to each other. Also buried in the Oregon Cemetery are A. A. Porter and his wife, M. M. Porter.

More information about the Porter Family in Attala and Madison Counties can be found at one of this site's companion blogs,
Attala County Memories.

Kirkwood Cemetery

Gravestone of William McWillie
Former Gov. of the State of Mississippi
Kirkwood Cemetery, Camden, MS
b. November 17, 1795, d. March 3, 1869

The gravesite of William McWillie, former Governor of the State of Mississippi, is seen in the picture above of Kirkwood Cemetery, near the site of the McWillie family home that was known as "Kirkwood." A photograph of former Governor McWillie's official portrait as Governor of Mississippi, is also shown above.

Kirkwood Cemetery and the old McWillie home site are located in a heavily pine-forested and remote northeast corner of Madison County, near the community known as Camden. Also buried in the cemetery are members of the McWillie family, including some family members of his two wives.

William McWillie was born on November 17, 1795 in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina. While still living in South Carolina and while still a young man, McWillie served in the War of 1812. After migrating to Mississippi, McWillie was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and between 1849 and 1851, he served as a representative from Mississippi's 3rd District. Several years later, McWillie was elected Governor of Mississippi, where he headed the state government from 1857 to 1859.

The gravemarker for William McWillie's second wife, Catharine, interestingly fashioned in the form of an open book, is pictured below.

Gravestone marking the burial place of
Catherine Anderson McWillie, second wife of William McWillie.
Catharine died on June 8, 1873, at the age of 61 years .

Friday, December 12, 2008

McKinley Carr, Buried at Buffalo Cemetery

To the right is a picture of the monument which marks the grave of McKinney Carr, who is buried in Buffalo Cemetery, near Buffalo United Methodist Church, in Attala County, Mississippi. According to the inscription on the grave marker, Mr. Carr was born on February 9, 1897 and died on February 7, 1974.

Buffalo Cemetery
Buffalo United Methodist Church
Attala County, Mississippi

McKinley Carr's grave marker displays an interesting set of emblems that represent major facets of this man's life. The monument itself appears to be a Woodmen of the World marker, although the emblem that symbolizes that organization is not visible. On the left "branch" of the monument is a Masonic symbol, and on the right is the emblem that symbolizes Mr. Carr's advancement in the Masonic Lodge to the level of 32nd Degree Mason. The Great Seal of the United States of America appears at the very top of the monument. Although I am unsure why the Great Seal of the U.S. is present, it is apparent that Mr. Carr may have been affiliated with the U.S. Government in some way, since the inscription at the bottom of the marker states "The United States of America honors the memory of McKinley Carr."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mrs. B. J. Burrell

The inscription on the gravestone of Mrs. B. J. Burrell states simply, "At Rest." Born on April 7, 1862, the wife of O. R. Burrell died on September 23 1923. Mrs. Burrell is buried in the Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery near Camden.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Montgomery Cemetery - Madison, Mississippi

Although there are a number of gravestones in the Montgomery Cemetery that contain only names, the graves of A. J. Montgomery and L. F. Montgomery must be among the oldest in this cemetery as well as some of the oldest in Madison County. According to the inscriptions on these two gravestones, L. F. Montgomery was born on Christmas Eve of 1812, and he died on February 25, 1907, when he was 94 years old. A. J. Montgomery, was born on September 5, 1816, and died on January 1868, when he was "aged 51 years 4 mo's and 18 days."

I think it goes without saying that L.F. Montgomery likely died of "advanced age" and "natural causes." But did A. J. Montgomery die early, the result of an accident or an illness? And were these two men brothers?

The U. S. Census of 1860 for Madison County, Mississippi, shows A. J. and L. F. Montgomery living next to each other, with "Canton," the county seat, then and now, shown as their "Post Office." Both men, according to the census, were living with their wives and children and were born in Mississippi. L.F. Montgomery's wife was born in North Carolina, and A. J.'s wife was born in Mississippi. All of their children were born in Mississippi, as well. The occupation for each man was shown to be that of "planter."

A. J. Montgomery's personal estate was valued at $57,250, including real estate that he owned, valued separately as $57,000. The value of real estate owned by L. F. Montgomery was $52,600, and the total value of his personal estate was valued at $81,700. In 1860, two years before the start of the Civil War, it is likely the Montgomery men were two of the largest landowners in Madison County.
Many descendants of A. J. and L. F. Montgomery still live in Madison County and the surrounding area, near where their ancestors lie at rest in this old cemetery.

A sign posted in the cemetery, advising visitors the cemetery is "Private Property," also cautions those who visit to "...observe the sanctity of thse grounds." Madison United Methodist Church offers its phone number as a contact for additional information.

Old Liberty Hill Church and Cemetery - Brister Road?

Last week, Mike Steen, of the Holmes County Herald, was kind enough to print in the newspaper a copy of a letter to the Editor that I wrote announcing this blog. My letter, emailed to the newspaper, contained my name and address, something that is required by most newspapers when writing such a letter. This past Monday, I received a wonderful letter, via snail mail, from a dear reader of the newspaper. Her letter was of the hand-written, personal kind, a definite anomaly in today's electronic world, and I sincerely appreciate the fact that she took the time to write the letter and mail it.

In the letter she wrote to me, this Holmes County resident expressed her appreciation in these words: "I want to thank you for the Graveyard Rabbit of Holmes County.....I think this is so great to have this blog." Also, the reader asked for help in identification of some "unmarked graves in the Liberty Hill Cemetery." She also provided the location of the cemetery, stating it was near the "Old Liberty Hill Church" on Brister Road, about two miles outside of the town of Durant, Mississippi on the way to West, Mississippi.

To date, I have not been successful in locating this particular cemetery. I did find a cemetery with the same name, but it is near the intersection of Ebenezer Road and Richard Travis Road, just east of Brozville. Identification of unmarked graves may be next to impossible unless someone can be found who is old enough to remember the burials, or at least someone who may recall the names of early families who buried their loved ones in this cemetery.

I have already written a reply to the individual who contacted me, assuming that she does not have access to email, in which I wrote something similar to what is in the paragraph above. I do hope, however, that someone who reads this blog will be familiar with the Old Liberty Hill Church and its cemetery on Old Brister Road. And if you are that person, please send me a comment on this post...this Graveyard Rabbit needs some help.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tombstone Tuesday

Several days ago, I wrote a post about James B. Yellowly, a founding father of the City of Ridgeland, Mississippi, who is buried in the Chapel of the Cross Cemetery in Madison, Mississippi. The gravestone pictured here is that of Yellowly's son, also named James B. Yellowly, who was born on October 17, 1848, several years before his parents migrated to Madison County. James died on June 6, 1914, and is buried in Jessamine Cemetery in Ridgeland.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Zollicoffer Family in Attala County

I have seen the name "Zollicoffer" many times on U.S. Census records for Attala County when I was researching my own family members, and I often wondered about the origin of the name. Today, I decided to do a little research, and what I found was a family with a legacy that stretched from Switzerland across the Atlantic to Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Attala County, Mississippi. Interestingly, I found the name was originally "Zollikofen," the name of the area in Switzerland where members of this ancient family once lived in a castle.

With a little more research, I found the patriarch of the family in the United States was Baron Jacob Christopher Zollicoffer, a Swiss emigrant who settled in colonial Virginia in the early 1700s. One of Baron Zollicoffer's sons was George Zollicoffer, who was born in 1738. George was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having commanded a company of the North Carolina militia. One of Captain Zollicoffer's sons was John Jacob Zollicoffer, who was born around 1775 in Halifax County, North Carolina.

In 1803, John Jacob Zollicoffer married his first wife, Martha Kirk, who was born on March 30, 1783, the daughter of Isaac Kirk. On March 27, 1806, John and Martha had their first child, Frederic, who was born in Occonomee, Halifax County, North Carolina. In 1807, John and Martha migrated to Maury County, Tennessee to settle on land that his father had received for serving in the Revolutionary War. Captain Zollicoffer died in North Carolina on June 11, 1815.

John and Martha Zollicoffer settled in Maury County, Tennessee, where he became a storekeeper. On May 19, 1812, near Bigbyville, Tennessee, they had another son, Felix K. Zollicoffer. On June 11, 1815, when Frederic was 9 years old and Felix was barely three, their mother died.

On January 5, 1830, Frederic Zollicoffer married Elizabeth ("Betsy") Petillo Love, who was born on December 28, 1812 to John Draper Love and Susannah Caruthers. Susannah, the daughter of Robert Caruthers, was born on October 10, 1793, in Burke County, North Carolina.

Several years later, Frederic and Martha moved to Attala County, Mississippi, near the town of Kosciusko, where Frederic was a physician and a planter. It is unknown why the Zollicoffer family moved to Attala County, Mississippi, but it could have been that his mother's family, the Love family, were already living in the area. According to the Slave Schedule of the U.S. Census of 1850, Frederic Zollicoffer owned 15 slaves, 6 males, and 9 females.

Frederic's brother, Felix Kirk Zollicoffer, became a printer, and married Louisa Pocahontas Gordon, the daughter of Captain John Gordon and Dolly Cross. Louisa was born on February 21, 1819, at Gordon's Ferry, in Duck River, Tennessee. In 1835, he became State Printer of Tennessee and later, a state Senator. Louisa died on July 13, 1847 and was buried in Old City Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. After the Civil War began, Felix received a commission of Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. On January 19, 1862, General Zollicoffer was killed during the Battle of Somerset and was also buried in Old City Cemetery in Nashville.

Frederic Zollicoffer and Elizabeth Petillo Love Zollicoffer became the parents of ten children, nine daughters and one son, who died when he was only 28 years old.

Children of Frederic and Elizabeth are:

Martha Kirk Zollicoffer - born November 18, 1830; died August 22, 1878

Married William Greer

Susanna (Susan) Zollicoffer - born November 26, 1832; died March 28, 1912
Married John Anderson Jackson

John Love Zollicoffer - born November 21, 1834; died April 1862

Marie Amelia Zollicoffer - born July 20, 1838; died July 2, 1879
Married Jesse P. Mills

Tennessee ("Tennie") Zollicoffer - born June 10, 1841; died July 30, 1891Married James M. Edwards and Jesse P. Mills

Sara Augusta ("Gus") Zollicoffer - born January 1, 1844; died August 11, 1923
Married William Francis Drennan and later Albert Litchfield Jenkins

Elizabeth Caruthers ("Bettie") Zollicoffer - born May 17, 1846; died November 27, 1900
Married Wesley Morris and later Albert Litchfield Jenkins

Davidella ("Davie") Zollicoffer - born February 17, 1849; died August 17, 1877

Cornelia Catherine ("Nellie") Zollicoffer - born June 12, 1851; died
May 12, 1892
Married Edmunds Grey Whitehead

Alice Virginia ("Sis") Zollicoffer - born November 7, 1853; died November 18, 1920

Elizabeth Zollicoffer died in 1854, and a review of the U. S. Census of 1860 for Attala County showed Fred Zollicoffer living in the household with his young children, since Elizabeth had died in 1854. Also living in the household was Elizabeth Zollicoffer, age 14, and David Zollicoffer, age 11, who may have been the children of his brother Felix and his wife, Louisa.

When I examined the U.S. Census of 1870, there were 116 individuals in the United States who were named "Zollicoffer." In Mississippi, there were 15 individuals, 5 who were shown to be "white" and 10 individuals who were shown to be "black." Among the five individuals was "Fred" Zollicoffer, age 62, who was born in North Carolina, and was shown to be living alone in his own household. The next household on the census page included Tennie Zollicoffer Edwards, a young widow at 29, and her four young children. Also included in the household were her sisters, Augusta, age 25, Cornelia, age 21, Cornelia, age 19, and Davie, age 16. Included among those shown on the census as "black" was James Zollicoffer, age 40, born in Tennessee, his wife, Caroline, age 25, and children, Louisa, age 11, Thomas, age 8, and Tennie, age 6.

Frederic Zollicoffer, a great-grandson of a Swiss baron, a grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran, and the brother of Civil War General, died on April 26, 1874 in Attala County. He is buried in Kosciusko City Cemetery, shown at the top of this post.

His wife, who had died almost 20 years before, his brother and his only son had all preceded him in death.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Pinchback Family - Their Fight for Equality

The grave of William Pinchback is one of the oldest graves in Holmes County, located in Pinchback Cemetery on the top of a hill that was once the location of a plantation that bore the name of the man buried there. William Pinchback was born on April 12 1788, "a native of North Carolina," according to the inscription on the stone marking his grave. The piece of marble that is his gravestone shows his date of death was October 2, 1848.

Although events in William Pinchback's life itself are not well-documented, much has been written about the life of one of his sons, Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback. And it is from the writings about the life of P.B.S. Pinchback, as he has been called, that portions of his father's life story have been revealed.

William Pinchback, born in North Carolina
on April 12, 1788; died on October 2, 1848

Major William Pinchback, a white man from North Carolina, fathered five children with Eliza Stewart, a slave of mixed African, Caucasian, and Indian blood, commonly known in those days as "mulatto." Before Pinchback left North Carolina, he had freed Eliza from slavery. On their way from Halifax County, North Carolina, to Mississippi, Eliza Stewart gave birth to Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback on May 10, 1837, in Macon (Bibb County) Georgia .

Once he and Eliza and their children arrived in Mississippi, Major Pinchback established his plantation in Holmes County, a county formed out of Yazoo County and known as "the land between two rivers." Much to the dismay of some of their neighbors in Holmes County, Major Pinchback and Eliza lived together openly and raised their children as a family.

When Pinkney was nine years old, he and his brother were sent to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend a private school, Gilmore High School, that accepted blacks and mulattos. After the two brothers had been in school for only a short time, they were required to return to Pinchback Plantation, where their father lay dying.

Although Major Pinchback was terminally ill, he had the insight to know his death would create turmoil among his eastern white relatives, since they had always looked with disdain upon his relationship with Eliza Stewart. He was particularly concerned that his relatives might attempt to enslave Eliza and his children once he was dead. According to a document filed in early Holmes County records, Major Pinchback sold Eliza and their five children for $100 to two individuals whom he trusted. These individuals then assisted Eliza and her children in a successful escape to Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that would later become an important link in the Underground Railway in the United States.

Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback,
Son of William Pinchback and Eliza Stewart
Born in Macon, Georgia on May 10, 1837
Died in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 21, 1921
Buried in Metairie Cemetery
Metairie, Louisiana

Once the family arrived in Cincinnati, 12-year old Pinkney was faced with supporting his mother and siblings. Initially, he signed on as a cabin boy on canal boats at a salary of eight dollars per month. After a few years, he moved on to working as a personal servant for white gamblers who played high stakes games with riverboat customers. It was during these years that Pinkney became somewhat of a gambler himself, as well as a womanizer of sorts. By all accounts, his life was not only colorful but somewhat dangerous. Allegedly, before 1860, he had already served at least two years in prison as a result of an argument and a stabbing incident that reportedly involved a woman.

In 1860 in Indiana, where he was working as a hotel porter and barber, Pinkney met Nina Emily Hawthorne. When he was 23 years old, and she was only 16, Pinkney and Nina were married. From that point on, Pinkney's adventuresome and often dangerous life among riverboat gamblers and other colorful figures of the time, became a thing of the past. During the early years of their marriage, Pinkney and Nina lived in Cincinnati where Pinkney attempted to recruit black cavalry officers for the Civil War and where he met opposition from his superiors because of his own racial ethnicity.

In 1867, amidst political changes of Reconstruction, P.B.S. Pinchback moved with his wife to the Fourth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. It was there that he began life as a changed man, a man set on a course that would involve his becoming one of the first non-white politicians in the State of Louisiana. Not only did he serve as a member of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention, but in 1867, he helped organize the Republican Party in the state. His organizational base for the Republican party was near his home in the Fourth Ward. In 1868, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate. It was during Pinkney's term in the senate that he introduced a bill, which later passed, that allowed marriages between whites and persons of color, a legal commitment that his own parents were prevented by law from ever doing.

In 1869, Pinchback opened a steamship and cotton company, and in 1870, he became the sole owner of a weekly newspaper,
the "Louisianian." He continued to publish the newspaper until 1881, where he used the power of the press to push for civil rights for non-whites in the State of Louisiana. In 1871, he was named Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and subsequently became the 25th Governor of Louisiana, serving from December 9, 1872 until January 13, 1873.

The day after Pinchback's term as governor ended, the legislature elected him to serve as a U.S. Senator. Even though he was elected to the Senate, congressional arguments persisted about the legitimacy of the state government that had elected him. After about two years, the House voted on March 3, 1875 to deny Pinchback his seat in the U. S. Senate by a vote of 121 to 29. He continued in his attempt to be seated, but arguments by his political opponents continued, and on March 8, 1876, Pinchback lost his Senate seat by a vote of 32-29. With his political career believed to be over, he returned to New Orleans where he was appointed Customs Surveyor for the city.

According to the U. S. Census of 1870, Pinkney and Nina Pinchback were living in the Fourth Ward of New Orleans with four children. Pinkney's occupation was "cotton broker." When the U. S. Census was taken in 1880, the Pinchback family was still living in the Fourth Ward, and the household included Pinkney, Nina and their six children, two sons and four daughters. Also living in the same household was Pinkney's mother, Eliza Stewart, then 55 years old, and two female servants. All members of the household, including the two servants, were shown on the census as "mulatto." If the census information is correct, Eliza was 12-13 years old when she gave birth to her first child with William Pinchback.

In 1885, at the age of 58, Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback enrolled at Straight University, a Louisiana institution organized for the education of people of color. In 1890, he earned a law degree and was admitted to the Louisiana Bar the next year. With a law degree in hand and still very much interested in politics and racial equality, P.B.S. Pinchback was elected chairman of the American Citizens' Equal Rights Association. The organization was located in Washington, D.C., so Pinchback moved his family there to work with the association in its efforts to preserve the equality of all citizens. He remained in Washington, where he continued to practice law until his death on December 21, 1921.

Shortly after his death, the body of P.B.S. Pinchback, son of William Pinchback, Holmes County, Mississippi pioneer, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave, was returned to Louisiana. His body is interred in Metairie Cemetery, less than ten miles from the Fourth Ward of New Orleans where his fight for racial equality had begun.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Henry Grey Vick, Almost a Bridegroom

Henry Grey Vick is buried in the Chapel of the Cross Cemetery in Madison, Mississippi, and his grave is one of the oldest there. At the time of Henry's death, he was betrothed to Helen Johnstone, daughter of the owner of Annandale Plantation located nearby. It was Helen's decision to bury Henry close to where she lived, rather than near his parents in one of Vicksburg's cemeteries or on the land of the plantation that he owned at Nitta Yuma in the Mississippi Delta.

The story of Helen Johnstone and Henry Vick is a tragic one that has become a legend in Madison County. By all accounts, Henry had asked Helen's mother for her daughter's hand in marriage shortly after she met her when Helen was barely sixteen. Mrs. Johnstone, a widow, was not ready to let go of her daughter so soon. She did agree, however, for Helen to marry Henry until she turned 20. Helen and Henry had waited for so long to be married, but on the very day of their planned wedding, Helen was not walking down the aisle as Henry's bride. Sadly, she was burying the man she loved and had hoped to marry, and her grief was greater than anything she had ever known. Henry had been taken from her before their life together had ever begun.

But Henry's death was not the result of an illness or an accident. Instead, it was the result of a duel with a man with whom he had argued over the man's treatment of one of Henry's slaves. Unknown to his bride-to-be, Henry had challenged the man to a duel and had died from the gunshot fired from the other man's pistol.

Much has been written over the last 150 years about the sad love story of Helen Johnstone and Henry Grey Vick and his untimely death. One of the reasons has been that visitors and those who have lived near the Chapel of the Cross and its cemetery have believed over the years that Henry's ghost inhabited the area after his death. It was said that Helen placed a bench near Henry's grave, and it was there that she often waited for his return.

Visitors who have visited the Chapel of the Cross and its cemetery over the years have often remarked that when the wind blows through the knarled cedars that surround the churchyard, they wonder if Henry might be watching from somewhere nearby.

It is a legend that persists to this day.

Helen later married a man who served as the rector of the Chapel that her family had built, and they had several children. But Helen was not buried in the cemetery where she waited on that bench for Henry for so long.

In 1994, Glenn S. Smith of TheDirectorsGroup, Madison, Mississippi, published the book "Shadows of a Chapel." If you would like to read more about The Chapel of the Cross, the Johnstone family of Annandale, and the love story of Helen Johnstone and Henry Grey Vick, an online copy of the book is available at the link below.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Bottle Tree in the Cemetery

According to an article published last year by Lucinda Coulter in The Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News, a myth of long ago was brought into the southern U.S. in the 18th century by African slaves. The myth centered around a belief that bottles placed on trees could catch evil spirits and subsequently would prevent those spirits from entering a home. Some of these early "bottle trees" were native cedars adorned with blue bottles. Bottles that were blue in color were preferred for use in building these trees in a variety of sizes, since the color blue was believed to signify the existence of "healing powers."

Eudora Welty, a well-known Mississippi writer, published a story entitled "Livvie" in 1943 that preserved the lore of the "protection" afforded by these "bottle trees." And bottle trees of all shapes and sizes continue to adorn yards throughout the rural south. In recent years, pre-built "bottle trees" have become "folk art" and are sold in patio and yard art stores throughout the country. Not only are the trees placed on patios and in yards, they are also used as decoration inside the home.

It is interesting in this picture, taken by Natalie Maynor, that a small bottle tree, made with blue bottles, and illuminated by its own solar-powered accent light, appears in a Holmes County, Mississippi cemetery.

Wordless Wednesday

St. Mary of the Springs Cemetery
Madison county, Mississippi