Monday, December 30, 2013

Ellington Cemetery, Attala County, Mississippi

It's been several years since I fist laid eyes on Ellington Cemetery. It was very much overgrown and appeared abandoned. The first picture below is of the gate to the cemetery. The second picture below was from roughly the center of the cemetery.

One of the reasons I'm heading back this morning is because I received an email who is related to Joseph Guyton, who is buried there in the small fenced-in area in the second picture. He had a brother named Aaron who probably should be buried there as well. Since it was so overgrown, I really didn't spend the time necessary to see if any more headstones existed but may have simply been hidden by vegetation or fallen over. So, I'm going to see if I can find Aaron's final resting place.

Another reason is to get the GPS coordinates for as many headstones as I can find. That didn't dawn on me when I initially took the pictures. Having a picture, and knowing where a loved one is interred is important, but in some of the larger cemeteries, that alone may not be helpful finding the grave site at a later date. The GPS coordinates however, will.

Another reason for going is to enjoy a hobby I've recently started enjoying again, and that's geocaching. If you go to, you can get an idea of what it's all about. I've come to find out that it's about as addictive as graving, and like graving, for me anyway, it's as much if not more about the journey. I found out yesterday that there's one geocache in Ellington Cemetery itself, and three or four others in the general area that I hope to find.

I decided to hit the cemetery first, since that's the main reason I went. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has been completely cleaned up. Gone are all the little pine trees and knee high grass.

Even the access to the cemetery has been cut so it's easy to get to the cemetery from 4116. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any sign of Aaron Guyton's headstone. There is a possibility it is there, has fallen over and gotten covered with soil and pine straw. I didn't really have anything to probe the ground with other than my hands, and after being there awhile, with the cool temperature, it would have been painful scraping away stuff on the ground. I looked around the cemetery for the geocache. I was at the coordinates, but didn't see it anywhere. So, I decided to call it a day there and head back to the house, searching for the other three geocaches along the way.

The other three caches were what you would call micro caches. They had just enough room for a log file rolled up. The first one I found, had gotten water in the cache and the log was pretty much just mush. I added that when I logged the find. The other two were tricky to find (which is part of what I love about this) but I found them and signed the logs in them.

After I found the last geocache, I headed back home. Part of the reason I really like going to Sallis is not just because it's a neat little town, but you pass through three others on the way up Highway 51; Pickens, Goodman, and Durant. What still blows me away is the fact that you'll see some of the most beautiful and incredible homes in those towns. When I was going through Pickens, a mansion off to my right, right off of 51 caught my eye. It's immaculate, and huge. What really impressed me though was a house that appears to be abandoned, but there is no for sale sign.

My wife and I think the room on the far left was probably an addition looking at the siding and the roof. My wife checked on it, and it looks like it may be for sale for around $54,000. Might be a nice fixer upper if you want to live in Pickens and they don't turn it into a nursing home first, which is what a woman I spoke to believes was or is the plan.

Seeing beautiful homes, old train depots (Durant) and things like that always make graving, and now geocaching trips interesting.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Damascus Cemetery, Copiah County, Mississippi

Yesterday morning, I decided to visit one cemetery and try to find another. On Find-A-Grave, there are 12 requests for photos for Damascus Cemetery. I had never been so I thought I'd check it out. There is another cemetery I've looked for that I thought I'd try again to find, and that's the Phillip Catchings Cemetery, which is supposed to be just past Georgetown. There was actually one other request for Ollie Mae Baggett in the Lily Mae Cemetery on Highway 27 just past Georgetown. I've never been to it either.

I love going to Copiah County, and it's been awhile since I've been there. I try to avoid driving on I-55. For one thing, there isn't that much to see. For another, I really don't like driving 70 mph. You pretty much have to take I-55 to Crystal Springs, but after that you can get on Highway 51. You can drive it to at least as far as Wesson, and maybe farther. I think it actually goes all the way to Baton Rouge. Anyway, Damascus Cemetery is just as you're getting into Hazlehurst. You take Damascus Road off of Highway 51 and follow the signs. I got there fairly early. It had been raining and more rain was forecast, but at the time it was only cloudy.

Damascus is not a big cemetery really. You can walk it in an hour or so I guess. A sign for Damascus Baptist Church says the church was founded in 1824, and you could tell there were a lot of old headstones. Unfortunately, there were quite a few that had fallen over, and there were quite a few that just couldn't be read anymore. I made a couple of passes through the cemetery, but couldn't find any of the headstones I was looking for. That was really unusual. I can usually find at least one or two. I finally gave up and decided to go in search of another cemetery.

Highways 27 and 28 intersect in Georgetown, and that was where I was headed, but I thought it'd be just as easy to drive back to Crystal Springs and get on Highway 27 there to get to Georgetown. The rain was still holding off, for the most part. There were a few sprinkles heading to Crystal Springs, but by the time I got there, it was only cloudy.

Georgetown is 16 miles from I-55 and you pass through the small community of Hopewell. There's a little store in Hopewell, and a woman used to work there who knows all about the cemeteries in Copiah County but I didn't know if she was still there. I was hoping she could tell me something about the Phillip Catchings Cemetery. Hopewell is roughly halfway between Crystal Springs and Georgetown. Unfortunately, when I got to Hopewell, the store was closed. Looks like they're open Sunday through Friday. Oh well.

I drove on to Georgetown. The Lily Mae Cemetery is supposed to be visible from Highway 27 not far from town. It is, but if you're not paying attention, you can zip right past it, which I did. I realized I passed it, turned around and went back. There's no sign for the cemetery. You have to just know which one it is based on it's location in Find-A-Grave, and some of the people interred there. It's a tiny African-American Cemetery. I started at the back of the cemetery and worked my way back toward the car. Naturally, Ollie Baggett's headstone was one of the closest to my car.

After getting a picture, I was done there, and it was time to try and find the Phillip Catchings Cemetery. I headed back toward Georgetown to look around in the area I think it may be. While driving around, I noticed a woman in her carport and stopped to ask if she was familiar with the cemetery. She said she recalled there being two old cemeteries. After you cross the Copiah Creek bridge on 27, you can turn on dirt roads to the left or the right. From what she remembers there's an old cemetery both places. When I got to where I thought she meant, I turned right. The dirt road was wet, and it was that red sand and gravel. After just a minute or so of driving, I was afraid I was going to get stuck, so I turned around and headed back to 27. I crossed the highway onto the other dirt road. This led me to a white house, and the road made a loop in front of the house, and that's where the mailbox is. I thought I would get out and knock on the door. After I heard a bark from what I sounded like a big dog, headed back to the car. The dog followed me for a few yards, but wasn't threatening. I didn't push it though. I headed back to Highway 27.

My wife's computer was in the shop, and the shop closes at 1:00 on Saturday, so it was time to head on back. Around Hopewell, the bottom fell out. It rained until I got back to Jackson. It wasn't a complete wash. I did find one headstone and that's still better than none. Somebody knows where Phillip Catching is, and it'll be found and documented.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Jonathan L. Catchings Family Cemetery, Hinds County, Mississippi

I decided last night to pick out another cemetery from Find-A-Grave which didn't have a map or a picture. I went looking for the Jonathan L. Catchings Family Cemetery in Hinds County. I've always gotten a kick out of the cemetery notes and/or description. For this they were as follows:

Cemetery notes and/or description: Turn left from state highway 18 traveling southwest from Raymond Mississippi onto Dry Grove Road. Follow this road and turn left on Parsons road. Follow Parsons road for 1 yard straight ahead in a grove of old cedars and pecans trees. Close to Palestine Community.
I'm curious about following Parsons Road for 1 yard. I bought a fabulous book by Mary Collins Landin, The Old Cemeteries of Hinds County, Mississippi. In her book, for this cemetery, she says
It is in a pasture about 300 yards from the road, and across the road from a high hill where the old Catchings Plantation home stood.
I did a search for the cemetery to see if I could find out any other information, and one of the hits was for the Hinds County MSGenWeb page, where there were additional notes.
In 2005, the farm where the Jonanthan Catchings Cemetery is located has been planted in CRP pine trees, and the cemetery is completely surrounded by pines and no longer visible from any road.
I asked several folks including a very nice elderly couple on Parsons Road. It was interesting that about a year ago, this same couple was visited by a couple from Alabama also looking for the cemetery. She doesn't think they had any luck either.

I believe remains of the cemetery are still there, but it'll be another day that I can possibly prove it. Just getting out looking for it with hopes of finding it was good enough, and it was a beautiful summer day for a drive and a little exploring.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Galloway Family Cemetery, Madison County, Mississippi

This morning was an exceptional morning.  I was going through cemeteries on Find-A-Grave this morning looking for one in Madison, County for which photo requests had been made.  I settled on Galloway Family Cemetery, for no particular reason, other than maybe it was in the same general area as the Beale Family Cemetery I went to last weekend, and a map had been generated for it.
The cemetery is located off of the Old Natchez Trace in Madison County. I converted the decimal coordinates to GPS coordinates hoping it would help in finding the cemetery. Well, it did, sort of. As I drove on the Trace, I got to a point where one set of coordinates was right on the money. They other though was way off. The direction I would have had to drive was fenced in. That's the time you start looking for folks out and about and ask someone.

Close to where Highway 43 and the Old Natchez Trace intersect, I spotted a woman around her car. Her driveway is blocked by a gate. I got her attention, or rather her dogs got her attention, and I asked her if she knew of a Galloway Family Cemetery. She said no, but her next door neighbors were Galloways, and maybe they'd know. So, I drove up in their driveway and saw Mrs. Galloway in her carport. In the survey for the cemetery, it mentions that several of the graves are vaults, so I mentioned that to her. She was familiar with the cemetery, but wanted to check with the gentleman who owns the property. When she told him why I was there and read off some of the names one the print out I had with me, he gave me permission to check out the cemetery.

I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate Mrs. Galloway's kindness and help. She offered to walk me to the cemetery. It was a pretty good hike too. We had a very nice conversation there and back. After a stroll, we got to the cemetery. It's enclosed within a chain link fence with a gate, and I guess you could call it the threshold had a very nice stone plaque with the Galloway name on it. The cemetery was in excellent shape. Mrs. Galloway keeps it nice mowing the grass and weed eating it. The vaults and headstones were in fantastic shape. After a short time taking all the pictures I could, we walked back to her house.

I've said before that so much of hunting for cemeteries and headstones is about the journey. Almost without fail I either see something really interesting, or meet some very nice folks. Mrs. Galloway was certainly no exception. She didn't know me from Adam, and yet she was sweet enough to take time out of her day to show me, who dropped in from out of the blue, her family cemetery. It was another outstanding Saturday morning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beale Family Cemetery, Madison County, Mississippi

I made a decision a few days ago.  As much as I enjoy trying to find headstones in cemeteries that actually have gate shots and a map (Find-A-Grave), what really interests me are the cemeteries with neither.  So, I decided to look for cemeteries on Find-A-Grave that fit that description.  I also decided, for some odd reason, to start with Madison County.

So, I chose to look for Beale Family Cemetery.  It's located off the Old Natchez Trace and fairly close to the current Natchez Trace.

What I've started doing when there are no directions is to look for a survey of the cemetery.  Often times, the person included some directions and a description of the cemetery in the survey.  I found a survey for Beale Family Cemetery.  If you check it out, you'll see that the cemetery is located about 4.3 miles from the intersection of Highway 43 and the Old Natchez Trace, and about 300 yards south of the Trace.

When I turned onto the Old Trace, I reset my odometer.  When it hit 4.2 miles, I stared slowing down.  As I looked up ahead to my right, I saw what looked like brand new chain link fence and what appeared to be a headstone.  Driving just a bit further, I saw the entrance to the area enclosed by the fence.

There was room to walk around the gate and I didn't see a no trespassing sign, so I walked on in. It's a pretty little cemetery and apparently an old one. One of those buried there was born in 1794. It's still in use today. Someone else buried there passed away in 2012.

I was really encouraged this morning by two things. One is how accurate the survey is, and the other is the time and effort some kind soul(s) put into seeing that Beale Family Cemetery is preserved.