Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Metal Funeral Home Markers

Mrs. Linda A. Patterson, who died on November 9, 2002, is buried in Carr Cemetery, near Ethel, Mississippi. Born on December 26, 1953, Patterson, at 48 years old, was still young when she died. I do not know the reason for her death. Her grave site is marked by a simple aluminum "funeral home" marker that shows her name, date of birth, age, and date of death. It also shows that Myrick's Funeral Homes, in Kosciusko and Carthage, MS, handled the arrangements for her burial. This type of marker is shaped like a stake at the bottom and is planted in the ground to mark a grave site where no gravestone yet exists.

The top part of funeral home markers contain windows made of clear, hard plastic, intended to be weatherproof in an effort to protect the information contained in it. The "window" of older funeral home markers was often made of flexible clear plastic. These markers almost always show the name of the funeral home, a bit of information that can sometimes yield more vital information to a family researcher who makes a contact there. Mrs. Patterson's funeral home marker still appears to be in good condition, although it has been in the ground at her grave site since 2002. Many markers, similar to this one, although not all in good condition, can still be seen in the rural cemeteries in Attala County. Some of the markers have been in place since the Depression, when the cost of a tombstone was likely prohibitive to many. During the past several decades, however, descendants of a few of these individuals buried in graves marked with funeral home markers have honored their ancestors by replacing the markers with conventional grave stones.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Left: Brooksfield Cemetery
Noxubee County, Mississippi

On December 23, 1833, sixteen new counties were formed in the State of Mississippi as a result of an agreement signed with the Choctaws. This agreement, signed on September 7, 1830, in a location that is now part of Noxubee County, became known as The Treaty at Dancing Rabbit Creek. The new counties that were named from former Choctaw lands, are listed here in the order in which they were formed: Noxubee, Kemper, Lauderdale, Clark, Oktibbeha, Winston, Choctaw, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Carroll, Jasper, Neshoba, Smith, Scott, Leake and Attala. Also included in these former Choctaw lands were portions of Sunflower, Bolivar, Quitman, Holmes and Lowndes Counties.

This blog will include information about cemeteries located in these counties that were once part of the Choctaw Nation, and about those who settled in them, along with some stories about the people who were left behind. Since I already write Graveyard Rabbit blogs about cemeteries in
Attala and Holmes Counties, this blog will be written about cemeteries in the other counties covered by The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. I also write a Graveyard Rabbit blog about Madison County, Mississippi. As an opening post here today, I am providing as background some of the provisions of The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Historic Marker near where the Treaty of Dancing
Rabbit Creek was signed on September 7, 1830
This location is now part of Noxubee County, MS

After a period of negotiations, representatives of the U. S. Government met with the Choctaw chiefs and other representatives at Dancing Rabbit Creek, Chukfi ahihla bok, in Choctaw, meaning literally, Rabbit-there-dances creek. At this location, the Choctaw removal was explained to an audience that contained over 5,000 men, women, and children. It is difficult to know how the Choctaw people in this audience felt, but they must have known their futures were all at stake. The treaty that was subsequently signed on September 7, 1830 became known as The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, and its terms resulted in one of the largest land transfers ever signed between the United States Government and American Indians during a time of peace. The Choctaw Nation signed away approximately 11 million acres of their traditional homeland in the United States. Terms of the treaty allowed some members of the tribe and their families to stay in the State of Mississippi, and Article IV of the treaty allowed Mississippi Choctaws to be the first non-European group to become citizens of the United States.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was ratified by the U. S. Senate on September 15, 1831, and its ratification resulted in
the Choctaw becoming the first of "The Five Civilized Tribes" to be removed under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By 1832, tens of thousands of Choctaw people would begin the long journey to Oklahoma Territory. That journey, one that spanned several hundred miles and lasting many months, resulted in many lives that were lost along the way. That journey is known as
"The Trail of Tears."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - David Sanders, KY Rifles

The gravestone here marks the grave of David Sanders, a Confederate soldier, who served in the Kentucky Rifles. Sanders is one of several Confederate soldiers buried in Isaacs Cemetery, near McVille in Attala County, but he is one of only a few who did not serve in a Mississippi unit. His date of death does not appear on the stone.

Tombstone Tuesday - Elmira N. Thomas

I wrote a post here over the weekend about W. S. Thomas and his Woodmen of the World gravestone. This stone marks the grave of Elmira Thomas, his wife, who is buried next to her husband in the Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery. Since I have never observed a gravestone provided for the wife of a member, it must be that membership in the association provided a gravestone for only the head of the household.

Elmira N. Thomas
Wife of W. S. Thomas
Born Sept. 18, 1843
Died Apr. 6, 1913

Tombstone Tuesday - Theresa Aulenbrock (1903 - 1927)

This metal cross, mounted on a small marble base, marks the grave of Theresa Aulenbrock, who was born on April 27, 1903. She died on September 15, 1927, just months after her 24th birthday, and is buried in St. Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery in Gluckstadt, Mississippi. The cross contains floral engravings, her name, and her dates of birth and death.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

W. S. Thomas, Woodmen of the World Member

The grave of W. S. Thomas in Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery, Ebenezer, Mississippi, is marked with a Woodmen of the World monument, similar to the one marking the grave of my own great-grandfather, Edward Arthur Branch, who died in 1914 and is buried in New Hope Cemetery in Madison County. My great-grandfather's marker was the subject of a post that I wrote on The Graveyard Rabbit of Attala County blog several months ago. According to the information on the scroll that is part of his gravestone in the cemetery in Ebenezer, W. S. Thomas was born on January 14, 1850, and his date of death was November 18, 1917.

Just like my great-grandfather, W. S. Thomas must have been a member of the organization known as "Woodmen of the World," founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root. According to "Wikipedia," the organization's purpose was to help its members "clear away problems of financial security....," and one of the benefits of membership was that free tombstones were provided by the organization for its members. The tombstone of W. S. Thomas and Edward A. Branch, along with others that mark the grave sites of deceased woodmen throughout Mississippi and across the United States, are reminders of those who lived and worked, and sometimes died, while working in the timber industry. The use of these tombstones, shaped like stumps of wood that bore the Woodmen of the World logo, was discontinued by the organization sometime around 1920.

The Draped Tombstone of George Harman

George Harman, b. May 1793 in
Lexington Co., SC; d. Apr. 15, 1878
Buried in Harmonia Cemetery,
Sallis, Mississippi

The gravestone of George Harman in Harmonia Cemetery near Sallis, Mississippi, is one of the first gravestones with a drape of this type that I have encountered. Although my initial thought was the drape was a symbol of mourning, I decided to search for a more professional opinion. The material I found actually validated my first thought, and the research provided a comprehensive source of meanings for tombstone symbols that will be useful in the future.

But simply viewing a tombstone and analyzing its symbols is not enough for this Graveyard Rabbit, so I soon began a search for more information about George Harman. First, I searched the U. S. Census of 1850, where I found that Mr. Harmon was likely a widower and the head of a household where he lived with four minor children, Edwin P., age 15, Walter A., age 14, James J., age 13, and Susanna C. Harman, age 8. Mary A. Howard, age 14 with no relationship shown, also resided in the Harman household. The family resided in Township 14, Range 5 East, Attala County.

According to the U. S. census of 1860, the family lived in Attalaville where George, now 66 years old, still headed a household that included four children. Mary Howard was absent from the household, and another individual, identified as Kate S. Harman, 17, possibly the young wife of Walter A., age 21, was included.

By the time the U. S. Census of 1870 was recorded, George's surname was shown as "Harmon," the common modern-day spelling of the name, and he was then 76 years old. Harmon no longer headed up his own household, but he lived, instead, with his son, Walter Harmon, age 31, and Walter's wife, C. S. Harmon, age 27.

George Harman's grave is one of several in Harmonia Cemetery where Harman family members who migrated from Lexington County, South Carolina are buried. An examination of other Harman family tombstones shows that George's deceased wife must have been named Barbara, as Walter A. Harman's tombstone shoes he was the son of George and Barbara Harman

Greenwood Cemetery - Organized 1840

The plaque above appears near the bottom of one of the brick pillars that mark the entrance to the Greenwood Cemetery. Buried here are early residents of Madison County whose names are Bain, Barnett, Cauthen, Gragson, Linn, McWillie, Russell, Scott, and Truesdel. The cemetery itself is located west of the community known as Camden, south of Firetower Road, and west of the intersection of Cauthen Road. Nearby are other old cemeteries where some of Madison County's earliest pioneers are buried. Greenwood Cemetery's location is somewhat remote, in a heavily forested part of Madison County, where timber has long been a cash crop. Since a majority of early marriages occurred because families lived near each other, it is likely that some of the families buried in this cemetery were linked by the marriages of their children.

One of the oldest graves in Greenwood Cemetery is the grave of Robert Matthew Cauthen. His gravestone is located within an area surrounded by a wrought iron fence, now weathered by time. According to his grave marker, Robert was born on April 3, 1866, the son of C. B. and J. B. Cauthen. He was married to Mary Morris Anderson on June 7, 1899, and he died on February 6, 1902, just months after their third wedding anniversary. His father, John Burdette Cauthen, who was born in South Carolina in 1831, is buried nearby. Although Mary Cauthen apparently remarried a Mr. Cobb after her husband's death, she is also buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Robert Matthew Cauthen
b. April 3, 1866
d. February 6, 1902