Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bonney Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

One of the cemeteries in Find-A-Grave that I've been interested in for some time is Bonney Cemetery. It's also known as Churchill Plantation Cemetery. It looked to be right off of Highway 3. A map had been generated for it, so I was certain it was at last there at one time. According to Find-A-Grave there are only seven people interred there. So, I grabbed my stuff about 7:30 this past Saturday morning, filled up at the local Shell station, stopped at Cups for the usual mocha latte, and hit the road.

The Friday night before, I had gone to Target to pick up a Father's Day card and some goodies for my father-in-law. While I was there, I picked up a thank you card for the kind folks who showed me McLeod Cemetery. I don't know their names, but they live on Highway 433, and that's the way I was going to get to Highway 3.

I put the card in their mail box and headed on to Highway 3. I turned my GPS device on, selected the waypoint for Bonney Cemetery, and clicked "Go". I turned left on 3 and went to the compass on my GPS. I could see I was heading in the right direction. I started slowing down when the distance got below a mile. After I got to around 200 feet or so, I started looking off to my left, where the compass was pointing. As I crawled along, the feet started increasing again, and the direction the needle on the compass was pointing was now pointing behind me to the left. I must have made about 2 or 3 u-turns until it looked like I needed to go perpendicular to the highway. There was a trailer there and woods on either side. In front of the trailer was a small garden, and an older black man was working in it. I asked him if he was familiar with Bonney Cemetery and told him it looks like it should be in the woods next to the trailer. He wasn't familiar with it, but he didn't own the property next to his trailer. A Mr. Hintson owns it. I asked him if Mr. Hintson lived in the area. He said he did, and that if I'll drive just across the Yazoo County line into Warren County, about 7 miles or so, I could ask anybody and they'd know where Mr. Hintson lives. I thanked him, made yet another u-turn and headed toward Warren County.

I wondered briefly if I had lost my mind. I'm going to drive into Warren County and start asking folks if they know a Mr. Hintson, and where he lives. But I only wondered for a minute. When I crossed the Warren County line, I noticed a black woman walking on the opposite side of the road. So, I stopped and asked if she knew a Hintson family. She said she did, and he lived right up the road in a yellow house with a beige pickup truck. I thanked her for her help and since I was about to get rear ended by a truck, I drove a little further up the road. Less than a mile more, and there on a hill to my left was a yellow house with a beige pickup truck, and the name Charles Hintson on the mailbox.

What the heck? I drove up his driveway to the top of the hill, and was greeted by what looked like two sets of twin dogs of different breeds. They weren't barking but they did seem to be interested. To my left was a shop of some sort, and I could hear some noise coming from it. I got out of the car and a gentleman walked out of the shop. He assured me that the dogs wouldn't bite. I introduced myself and asked if he was Charles Hintson. He said he was and he invited me to come into his shop. He was working on a walking stick, and Mrs. Hintson was in another room. I told him what I was looking for, what the black gentleman had told me. After I told him I was looking for the Bonney Cemetery, he said he wife is a Bonney. I'm sure he saw my jaw drop. Mrs. Hintson stepped in from the other room and we had a fascinating discussion. She told me about the plantation and where the a.k.a. came from in Find-A-Grave. Back around 1838 or so, the Bonneys established the Churchill Plantation, and the cemetery is where some of the Bonneys are interred. The name Churchill is supposed to have come from Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Mr. Bonnie or Dr. Bonnie, owned property in Kentucky and came from there to Satartia, MS and started the plantation. After catching up on some of the history, Mr. Hintson told me that they don't actually own the property the cemetery is on, but they do know the gentleman who does. Mrs. Hintson stepped into the house and got the phone book. She gave me several phone numbers, including the one for the gentleman who could open the gate for us. I tried calling but got some error message. Well, I had dialed 601 rather than 662. Mr. Hintson called him and got through to him on his cell phone. Mrs. Hintson has been wanting to get pictures for some time so we decided to all go. It was agreed that the fellow would unlock the gate for us if we'd lock it back when we left. With the arrangements made, the Hintsons headed out in their beige truck, and I followed them.

The property was a few miles from the Hintsons off of Highway 3 back toward Yazoo County. We got to the turn and drove up the driveway, I guess you could call it. We wound around back and forth through dirt and gravel and just off on the grass at times. It seems like it took a good five minutes. Mr. Hintson came to a short hill off to the left of the road, stopped, and got out. We were there.

Two of the Bonney headstones were difficult to read. They were dirty and worn. I managed to get shots of all the Bonney headstones. There were two folks we couldn't find. One of the headstones was lying what appeared to be inscription down, and there was a spot that we believe was a sunken grave with no marker. After we spent a little time there and got all the pictures we could, we drove on to the house.

It took only a couple of minutes to get to the house. I was thrilled when we got there. Not only could I see the Bonney home, but also a sign for Churchill Plantation.

That put all the pieces together for me as far as what is on Find-A-Grave. It was so interesting to hear Mrs. Hintson talk about her family and their history. To the left of the Bonney house is an old cistern. Mrs. Hintson mentioned that someone had thrown some medicine bottles into the cistern. That's such a shame. They would have made for some fascinating memorabilia.

While we were visiting, the subject came up of another old house and old cemetery called the Bradshaw place and the Bradshaw Cemetery. Mrs. Hintson is also related to folks interred there. I had mentioned that I was going to probably go to Liverpool Cemetery and fulfill a request. I also mentioned I'd love to check out Bradshaw Cemetery, but wasn't clear on how to get there. Mr. Hintson said, "Let's go!" I was already blown away by what I had seen that morning, and how kind and helpful the Hintsons were. I hated to take up all their Saturday morning going out looking at cemeteries, but they were more than willing to show me the way. What a day, and it was just getting started! Off to the Bradshaw place.

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