Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

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

Mary Ella Dubard Goolsby Blichfeldt

This double headstone marks the graves of Jack and Mary Ella Blichfeldt and are located in New Hope Lutheran Church Cemetery in Sallis Mississippi (photos here were taken by Nancie Lovett Perdue Whitfield Dubard.)

According to the headstones, "Jack" Jacob Thokle and Mary Ella Dubard Goolsby Blichfeldt were born on October 11, 1911 and January 7, 1917, respectively. Jack died on August 24, 1996 in California, and Mary Ella died on November 15, 2003.

On Augut 28, 1996, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee's daily newspaper, published this obituary:

SALLIS *(MS) - Jack Blichfeldt, 84, retired power engineer with UCLA, died of heart failure Saturday at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, Calif. Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at New Hope Lutheran Church, where he was a member, with burial in New Hope Cemetery. Nowell Funeral Home of Kosciusko has charge. A native of Norway, he was a veteran of the Norwegian navy and air force, having served in World War II. He was a member of the Norwegian Seaman War Veterans Club. Mr. Blichfeldt, the husband of Mary Ella DuBard Goolsby Blichfeldt, also leaves two daughters, Anna Helena Eide and Hilda Tjelland, both of Norway; a son, John Goolsby of Laguna Hills; two brothers, Finn Blichfeldt and Aksel Blichfeldt, both of Norway, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Mary Ella Blichfeldt's obituary (below) as it appeared in the Clarion Ledger, the newspaper of Jackson, Mississippi on November 18, 2003:

Mary Ella DuBard Goolsby Blichfeldt, 86, retired executive secretary/division manager with Lipton Tea (West Coast Division), died Saturday, November 15, 2003, at Hospice in His Hands in Durant. Visitation is 5-8 p.m. today at Culpepper Funeral Home in Kosciusko. Services are 2 p.m. Wednesday at New Hope Lutheran Church in Sallis with burial in the church cemetery. Mrs. Blichfeldt was born January 7, 1917 in Attala County to Earnest Allen DuBard and Willie Morgan. She was a graduate of Holmes Jr. College and Draughns Business College. She was a member of New Hope Lutheran Church. She was a member and past Regent of the DAR, member and past president of the Sallis Twentieth Century Club and church treasurer for eight years. She is preceded in death by two husbands, Charles L. Goolsby and Jacob Thokla Blichfeldt; and a sister, Margaret DuBard Coffey. Survivors include: son, John Goolsby and wife Kim Hoops Goolsby of Aliso Viejo, Calif.; sister, Kathryn DuBard Yarbrough and husband Jim of Sallis; and a grandson, Dean Goolsby. Don Vollenweider will officiate the services.

New Hope Lutheran Church, Sallis, Mississippi (Photo by Natalie Maynor)

The entrance to New Hope Lutheran Church's cemetery is pictured below. Over five hundred individuals, including Mr. Blichfeldt and members of the Dubard family are buried here.

Entrance to New Hope Lutheran Church Cemetery
(photo by Natalie Maynor)

According to the U. S. Census of 1920, Mary "Elle" Dubard was the only child in the household headed by her father, Ernest, age 36, and her mother, Willie, age 29. At the time the census was recorded, Mary Elle was shown to be "3 and 4/12" years old, with an estimated birth year of 1916. The race of all family members was shown as "White." Also present in the household were two other adults, J. C. Dubard, age 66, and Hattie Dubard, age, 58, very likely the parents of Ernest. J. C. Dubard's mother and father were shown to have been born in South Carolina. On the same census page is another Dubard household headed by Bennie, age 49, likely an older brother of Ernest, and his wife, Lee Dubard, age 44. Parents of Bennie and Lee were all born in South Carolina. Also enumerated in the household of Bennie and Lee were two children, Howard, age 15, and Christine, age 6.

Mary Ella's burial in Attala County, where she was born, grew up, and lived for a time, is yet another story of a native Mississippian who came home to be "at rest."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hebron Cemetery, Near the Community of Brozville

Hebron Cemetery is located in Brozville, in Holmes County, Mississippi, near Hebron Methodist Church. Among those buried in this old cemetery are members of the Evans, Hocutt, Meriwether, Moore, Moses, Stigler, and Wigley families. Watch for stories on this blog about these families and the families of others buried here.

Jesse Ousley, Husband of Lillie - 1891-1927

Jesse Ousley's date of birth, according to his gravestone in Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery, was 1891. Jesse's date of death is shown to have been 1927. A discrepancy was found for Jesse's date of birth, however.

According to the the U.
S. Federal Census of 1900, Jesse was five years old and living with his parents, Frank and Edna E. Ousley, in District 5 of Warren County, near Vicksburg, Mississippi. Frank Ousley, the head of the household, was shown to be 47 years old, and his wife, Edna, was 33.

Also enumerated in the household headed up by Frank were five sons, including Jesse, and two daughters named Cora, age 9, and Carrie, age 2. Jesse's brothers were Edward, age 14, Tony, age 12, Willie, age 8, and Samuel, who was 2 months old. Both sets of parents of Frank and Edna Ousley were born in Alabama, and the couple were shown to have been married for sixteen years at the time the census was taken. The census record showed "farmer" as Frank's occupation, and his sons, Edward and Tony, were each shown to be "farm laborers." Cora, the older of the two girls, was shown to be "at school." The racial designation shown for all family members was "White."

According to the U. S. Census taken in 1910, there were 126 individuals with the surname of Ousley, Owsley, or Ausley, who lived in the State of Mississippi. Twenty-four of those enumerated resided in Attala County, twenty-two in Holmes County, and thirty-eight in Madison County. Jesse's family of nine was the only Ousley family living in Warren County, Mississippi in 1900.

Of the 38 individuals appearing on the U. S. Census of 1910 of Madison County, 17 of these individuals lived in the Camden Community, where Jesse is buried. Many of the individuals with the Ousley surname who were enumerated in Attala, Holmes, and Madison counties around the turn of the century were shown on the census with the racial designation of "White." A few of those enumerated were shown as "Mulatto." But the majority of Ousley family members enumerated on census records in 1900 and 1910 in Mississippi were shown to be "Black."

The name "Ousley" is believed to have originated in Southern England, and is likely a combination of the name of a river, "Ouse" and the Old English word "le-ah" meaning "wood." Other derivations of the name include Owsley, Ausley, Oursley, and Owseley. William Owsley, believed to be the first member of this family to leave England, settled in the West Indies in 1656. Sarah Ously settled in Philadelphia in 1674, and John Ousely emigrated to Philadelphia in 1876.

When Jesse died in 1927, he was only 36 years old. There is no information available to establish the cause of his early death. Jesse's gravestone shows "husband" and the name "Lillie Ousley" apparently his wife, is engraved near the bottom. Since no date of death has been engraved on the stone underneath Lillie's name, it is likely that she may have remarried after Jesse died and is buried elsewhere.

James B. Yellowly, A Founding Father of Ridgeland, MS

Tombstone of James Burrough Yellowly, b. NC
Buried in The Chapel of the Cross Cemetery
Madison (Madison County) Mississippi

The name "Yellowly" is a name that is deeply entrenched in the history of Ridgeland, Mississippi, the largest city in Madison County. Around 1853, James Burrough Yellowly migrated to early Madison County from his native Halifax County, North Carolina. While Yellowly was still living in North Carolina, he was a well-known physician and a teacher of medicine. He was also well-known as a member of the Philanthropic Society at the University of North Carolina, a society that was instituted on August 1, 1795.

When Yellowly arrived in Madison County in 1853, he purchased a parcel of property from a man named William J. Austin. The community that developed in this location was known as "Jessamine," in honor of Mrs. Yellowly. According to the U.S. Census Slave Schedule of 1860, J. B. Yellowly owned 110 slaves. This location in Madison County, known later as "Yellowly's Crossing," is now a portion of the City of Ridgeland, Mississippi. After the Illinois Central Railroad came through the area in 1865, the community was known as "Yellowly's Switch."

Later, Edward M. Treakle and Gorton W. Nichols purchased this land from Yellowly, along with some land from others, and established the "Highland Colony Co." After their purchase was surveyed and platted, a town hall was built, and the village around it was named "Ridgeland." One of the newer streets in Ridgeland is named "Yellowly Drive " as a reminder of the Yellowly family and its involvement in the formation of the town.

Jessamine Cemetery, located in the original community of Jessamine, and one of the many old cemeteries in Madison County, occupies a beautiful wooded area next to the Natchez Trace. The cemetery, which has an old and a new section, was once outside the city limits and at the end of a narrow dead-end road. After years of development around it, the cemetery, maintained by the city and better kept than ever, is surrounded on three sides by over a hundred homes all built within the last 20 years or so. It is in this cemetery that my parents, whose headstones are already in place, will be buried.

Ironically, Yellowly is not buried in Jessamine Cemetery, but in the cemetery at The Chapel of the Cross, along with his sister, Elizabeth, and another relative named Willie Yellowly. Although I have been unable to locate the grave for Yellowly's wife, I did find that a son, also named James B. Yellowly, who was born on October 7, 1848 and who died on June 6, 1914, is buried in Jessamine Cemetery. His wife, Sarah, born in Wisconsin, is buried there beside her husband.