Thursday, November 26, 2015

Melton-Bennett Cemetery, Madison County, Mississippi

Today is Thanksgiving. I probably should be taking a nap with my wife after having a great breakfast with two of our children, but I decided it was a good time to get out and look for a cemetery. The weather is gorgeous, and the cemetery is in nearby Madison County. The cemetery is the Melton-Bennett Cemetery

Since a map has not been generated for the cemetery, I Googled the name to see what I could find. I found a site that I had forgotten about but which may be the best source for cemeteries in Madison County. It's at the Tombstone Transcription Project for Madison County. I think Pat and Walter Wellington have probably surveyed every cemetery in Madison County. Mr. Dudley Rinicker has also been extremely active running down cemeteries in the area. The only problem with some surveys is when they were done. It may have been anywhere from 40 to 70 years ago. Looking at the directions in this survey, the roads are in existence today, so that hasn't changed, and it was even noted that the cemetery lies between two subdivisions. My wife and Googled a likely place, so I set out to see if I could find it.

I pulled up and parked on the side of road to start looking. We were thinking a stand of trees close to the road looked like a good possibility. I looked all through it, but didn't find any sign of a headstone nor a fence. There are two other places I checked out and again, nothing. The rest of the area between Hoy Road and what looks like may be someone else's property is just a nicely cut field. There is a big ditch between the field and the other property, which appears to be something of a junk yard. I searched around close to the ditch, but still didn't see any signs of a cemetery. I may be mistaken, but I'm thinking it may be on the property with the junk yard.

The address on the mailbox in front of the property is 1505 Rice Road. I type up a letter I'll send out tomorrow which will hopefully get to the owner of the property asking for permission to photograph Melton-Bennett Cemetery if it is indeed there.

It's yet another mystery. They aren't always solved, but it's always satisfying to try.


I found out that it appears this property is owned by Mr. Joe E. Rice, Jr. I decided to fire off a letter to Mr. Rice asking if he's familiar with an old cemetery on his property and asked if I could get his permission to photograph it, if it is indeed there. I included my mailing address, email address, and phone number. As of today (02/14/2016), I have not received a response.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ellison Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

In my opinion, Ellison Cemetery is definitely endangered, so I wrote about it in another blog on Mississippi's Endangered Cemeteries. You can find that blog entry here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Update - Goodloe Cemetery found!

In a previous post, I mentioned having unsuccessfully looked for Goodloe Cemetery in Madison County. Due to the efforts of three wonderful people it has been found and all but a handful of grave sites have been documented. Let me introduce you to those folks.

Left to right are Mr. Charles Bowering, a local historian in Madison County, Mrs. Diane Gravlee, and her husband, Mr. George Gravlee, both of South Carolina.

Allow me to tell you a bit about them.

Mr. Bowering probably knows more about Madison County history than anyone I know. He has also been to Goodloe Cemetery. Back in 1991, he actually videotaped the cemetery with one of those heavy cameras you put on your shoulder. He was kind enough to take the time and show us how to get to the cemetery.

Mr. and Mrs. Gravlee have to be the most passionate and best organized gravers I've had the pleasure to meet. They cleaned off each headstone with plain water and a soft brush, and then sopped up the water with a small rag. When they took the pictures, they were very careful to get the best light possible, even using a reflector when necessary. I was a bit ashamed. While I try to take the best picture I can, I don't always clean them first. If you go to the Goodloe Cemetery on Find-A-Grave, you can see examples of the work they do. Look at any of the Goodloe and Hodge memorials. It was a privilege to hang around with them a good part of the day.

The Gravlees got the GPS coordinates and had a map generated on Find-A-Grave. You might can figure out how to get there with it. I'll just tell you how we got there. By the way, if you do want to go to the cemetery, please refer to the notes on the Goodloe Cemetery page before you do. We got to the cemetery coming from Flora. If you're familiar with the area, you can also get to it from I-55 there in Madison. Anyway, leaving Flora, we got on Highway 22 headed toward Highway 463. We turned right on 463 and drove to Cedar Hill Road. Honestly, I didn't keep track of the miles. You'll want to turn right on Cedar Hill Road if coming from Flora. As you drive down a ways, keep your eye out for the power lines, and when you come to them, just pull over to the right. You'll want to cross the street.

As you cross the street, this is what you should see. You're going to need to walk up the right of way just past the tower in the distance. When you cross the street, look for this gate.

Just step over the chain on the left side and squeeze between the gate and the post. Then, head for the tower. Close to the base of the hill you'll see a barbed wire fence. If you'll walk to the far left of the fence, there is an opening. Go through there and continue up the hill. You'll want to walk to the right of the tower, and just past it.

As you past the tower, you should see a dirt and gravel road to your right. Just when you're about to walk on the road, head into the woods to your left, right at the edge of the right of way. I'm not good with distances, but you should only be about 50 feet or so from the cemetery, and should see the taller monuments.

I think the cemetery is in remarkably good condition. Some headstones had fallen over and some were even buried, but Mr. and Mrs. Gravlee got them photo ready in a matter of minutes. It's good to know that even if something should happen to the cemetery in years to come, there's not only a written record in the survey done by Pat Wellington, but a videotape by Mr. Charles Bowering, and a photographic record by Mr. and Mrs. Gravlee as well.

it was a good day!