Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cheatham Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

Last weekend, I decided to get out and go look for Cheatham Cemetery in Yazoo County. It was one of those that had no map and no "gate shot". Those are the cemeteries I really like to find. I want to make sure they get documented. The notes on the cemetery page say, "Cemetery notes and/or description: Manor Place, Yazoo County, Mississippi near Kirk's Crossroads" Now, if you're thinking like I was thinking, and you're not from Yazoo County, you're wondering what the Manor Place is or was, and where Kirk's Crossroads is or was.

I Googled Cheatham Cemetery for what seemed like days, but couldn't find a better description of the location. I did find an interesting article about the Manor Place. It even has a tiny picture of what the house looked like many years ago. It still doesn't say where it is. In the past, when I've been able to find some information, I'll head in the that direction and ask folks when I get there. One of the clues is the house and cemetery were in the Concord community. That's about as meaningful as Kirk's Crossroads, but anyway, I headed to Anding Oil Road, which is in or close to Little Yazoo. It goes from Highway 433 to Highway 49. The article said that Mr. Manor owned a store in Anding. I figured that was as good a place as any to start from.

I always love adventures like this. Invariably I meet some interesting people, and that day was no exception. I got off on Highway 49 and turned onto Anding Oil Road. I drove a short distance and crossed a little one lane bridge over railroad tracks. I was driving slow and looking around when I heard someone ask what I was looking for. When I saw where the voice was coming from, I saw it was young man up on hill skinning a deer. I asked him if he was familiar with the old Manor Place. He said yes, but it burned down years ago, and told me how to get to it. After wandering around for a few minutes, I found the house that had burned to the ground. I stomped around in the woods for a bit looking for the cemetery. The article said it was in a grove of cedar trees. I didn't see the first one. After probably 30 or 45 minutes of maneuvering through briars and such, I ended up back at the spot where the fellow told me about the house. I told him I had found the burnt out house, but didn't see any cemetery. He asked again for the name of the place, and I told him Manor. He said, "Oh, I thought you said Manning." I mumble, so I wasn't surprised that's how it sounded to him. I decided to start back over at Highway 49. There's a convenience store right there at Anding Oil Road and 49. I stopped in the ask the person working there. Well, come to find out, it was an older Indian or Pakastani gentleman who spoke very little English. I asked him a couple of questions and he said something like, "The boss man knows." When I asked if the boss man was there, he said no, he's in Jackson. Of course he was.

So, I left the store, and as I was leaving a young lady pulled up and got out of her truck with two small children. I decided just to ask if she was familiar with the Cheatham Cemetery. She said no, but Steve Cheatham lives on the road I was just on. She was kind enough to get his home phone number. I called the number and got Mrs. Cheatham. I explained why I was calling and asked if I could speak to Mr. Cheatham. She said he had to step out to tend to some cows, but gave me his cell phone number. I called him and he was definitely familiar with the cemetery and could tell me how to get there. While on the phone, we talked about a couple of other cemeteries he though I might want to visit. As I found out yesterday, I had gotten confused and went to one of other cemeteries. So, I didn't find Cheatham. I thought I might have found the house, but it didn't even closely resemble the picture. I drove around and stomped around until about 1:30 or 2:00 and decided to head back to Jackson. I'd just call him during the week and make arrangements to meet him yesterday morning so he could show me how to get to the cemetery. Unfortunately, I never did call him. I just decided I'd try again thinking I was in right place.

Yesterday morning I drove to the spot I thought I was supposed to go to. I just figured I hadn't looked around in all the brush. I failed to mention earlier that Mr. Cheatham had said the old Manor Place was falling in. The cemetery will be to the left of the old home. Well, I turned where I thought I was supposed to turn and there was an old house which was falling down. That's why I thought I was in the right area. I didn't dawn on me though until yesterday that the house I thought was the Manor Place wasn't. Even though it was falling in, it wasn't built anything like the old picture I had to go by. I had taken a wrong turn. Actually, I was supposed to turn right off of 49 and not left. So, I was way off. It's not the first time that's happened, and probably won't be the last. I called Mr. Cheatham again yesterday morning and he got me straightened out. As it turns out, where he was sending me to was an old Catholic Cemetery across the street from Concord Baptist. In my excitement speaking with Mr. Cheatham, I just didn't take good notes. So, back to 49 again.

I drove back to 49 and drove straight across. I can't remember the name of that street, but it's not Concord Church Road. Anyway, I drove for around a quarter of a mile or so and looking to my right spotted the old home. It's seriously grown up around the house, but one of the distinguishing features mentioned in the article was that it has 6 columns across the front porch. It was hard to get a good picture because of all the brush. This is pretty much how it looked from the road.

When Mr. Cheatham said the house was pretty much falling down, he wasn't exaggerating. I would love to check out the inside, but with holes in the roof and the porch looking pretty rickety, I thought it best to stay outside. This is a shot of the front porch from the side.

This was what I guess was the main entrance to the home.

I would love to see the old place fixed up.

Now that I located the house, I started looking for the cemetery. Both Mr. Cheatham and the article said the cemetery should be to the left of house. The article says it's situated in a grove of Cedar trees. I started looking around to my left and I saw what looked like a wide path through the woods which appeared to lead to a house. I also thought I saw a headstone between where I was and the house. I started walking and soon realized there was a cemetery there. There aren't a lot of stones, but they're in pretty good shape, and the area they're in is very well kept up by the gentleman who lives next to the cemetery. Sure enough, the first headstone I walked up to was for Susan Cheatham. That was it.

I spent about an hour there taking pictures and writing down GPS coordinates and that sort of thing. When I first got there, I heard a dog barking. I saw a black lab at the house next to the cemetery. I just ignored him and went on about my business. Not long after I started I turned to my right, and the dog was standing right there. I never heard him. After petting him and talking to him for a few minutes, we were buddies. I had to move him a time or two to take pictures of the headstones without a dog's head in the picture. I never mind company, even the four legged kind. After I finished there, I drove back home and posted all the pictures on Find-A-Grave. There's another cemetery I want to find next that has no map and no picture. It's called Martin Cemetery, also in Yazoo County. Mr. Cheatham and I spoke the next day, and he gave me what sounds like a good lead. He knows a Mr. Martin, about his age, and he gave me his phone number. I'll be giving him a call.