Saturday, March 26, 2016

Update - Daniel Yates Family Cemetery - Hinds County, Mississippi

When I went to Daniel Yates a couple of weeks ago, I mainly just wanted to find it. I really wasn't prepared. I didn't take water and my brush. I didn't take any kind of tool to cut back the vegetation, specifically briars and such. Last weekend it was too soggy to go back. It didn't actually rain Saturday, but it was still wet from Thursday and Friday. This morning I went back.

The weather was gorgeous. I stopped by Larry Lee's house when I got down there to make sure it was okay and to let him know I was back there. I decided it might not be a bad idea for someone to know where I was rather than just down around Utica. I got all my stuff together. I took my black five gallon bucket, my brush, a small folding saw that fits in my pocket, the hedge trimmers I bought this morning at Lowe's, and two gallons of water. One gallon of water will fit in the bucket with the other stuff, but I have to carry one gallon. I hopped the barbed wire fence where I did last time, and walked the field to the other barbed wire fence. I took a left at the fence, but I found out that where there was a big opening to walk through, brand new barbed wire covered the opening. So, I had a second fence to climb. Lovely. After I made it over the second fence unscathed and headed off to the cemetery.

There were several headstones that were in pretty good shape, but I had to cut down the briars and small saplings in order to get to them to clean and get pictures. There were three requests for the cemetery; Mary Yates, Daniel Yates, and James C. Lee. All three were born in the late 1700's. Mary was no problem, but it probably took thirty minutes or so to clear off the brush enough to get to James C. Lee's headstone. I'm afraid though that fresh water and a soft brush really didn't do much good.

I have to say though that after that much time in the elements, I think they still look pretty good. The hardest part to make out is the small inscription at the bottom of the headstone. Last week I was successful using aluminum foil and the brush to bring out the words. I hate to admit it, but I'm afraid my heart wasn't in it like it normally is. There's so much to do around the house, like cutting the yard, I got the best shots I could get of Mary Yates and James C. Lee's headstone plus several around the area and decided to call it a day.

After making it back to the car and getting ready to leave, I wondered if I'll be back. Sometimes I wonder about what I perceive as my responsibility. That may seem odd, but since I know where the cemetery is now, and I know what condition it's in, do I feel responsible for getting it completely cleaned up and all stones photographed, or do I leave it to a member of the families buried there who may or may not live in the area? I don't know. There are so many cemeteries that need work and need "rediscovering". I'll look for others and see what I feel called to do down the road.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Daniel Yates Family Cemetery, Hinds County, Mississippi

This is one of the cemeteries on Find-A-Grave that is also in Mary Collins Landin's book. I looked for it once before and even asked a couple of folks who were out and about if they were familiar with it. I didn't have any luck. Finding the William Davis Family Cemetery, I've been encouraged to try again.

One thing that dawned on me this morning is that Ernie Martin Road runs from Highway 27 outside of Utica to Adams Station Road. When I looked last time, I didn't think to cross over Tom Collins Road and look on the other end of Ernie Martin Road. I told myself I was going to concentrate my search there.

What stuck in my mind is something I read on the Hinds County GenWeb page about this cemetery. Mary Landin said that back in 1978 it couldn't be seen from the road, but in 2005 with more grazing, it's starting to become visible again. I'm paraphrasing.

I drove slowly starting at Tom Collins Road. I was really hoping to catch a glimpse of it. I even brought my binoculars, hoping they would help. I still felt like I was looking for a needle in a haystack. Before I knew it, I was at Adam Station Road. Obviously I had driven by it. So, I made a u-turn and headed back the other direction. As I was driving along, I saw a black man sitting in his pickup at a house with his truck door open. I decided to ask him if he was familiar with the cemetery. His name is Larry Lee. As a matter fact, he knows exactly where it is. He used to walk by it when he went hunting. He was nice enough to walk with my up the street to show me where to hop the barbed wire fence. He said it was no problem.

People like Larry are invaluable. He's been in the area for some years and is familiar with the landscape. He's also just a very nice fellow.

I drove my car to where he said I could park. I put on my boots and snake guards, got my camera and pad with a list of names, and proceeded to climb over the fence. Fortunately, I didn't do any damage to myself. He said to go to the right to a thicket. I walked all around several what I would consider thickets and didn't see the first sign of a headstone. As I was about to head back and ask Larry how I missed it, he's slowly driving down Ernie Martin Road and spots me. He hollers out and asked me if I found it. I told him I hadn't seen the first sign of the cemetery. Well, as he pointed out, I hadn't walked far enough. I had misunderstood his directions. There's another fence I had to go over or around. When I was looking around earlier, I saw a spot where the fence ended, so I headed for that spot. He had pointed to an area on the other side of that fence, so I walked further away from where I parked, and toward Ernie Martin Road. After walking 20 or 30 feet, I saw a headstone. That was it!

The headstone I spotted is actually to the left of these headstones. Unfortunately, I could only read the name and both dates on a couple of the headstones. They really need to be cleaned. I was able to get enough water from a nearby puddle to clean up the names and dates on the first headstone, that of Daniel T. Yates, Jr.

Since I really had no clue where the cemetery was when I parked, I didn't want to haul around a bucket, brush, and a couple of empty containers hoping I'd find a source of water. I wish I had now. Anyway, the stones look like they're in good shape other than needing cleaning. When I go back, I'll make sure I have the supplies I need, including a small saw and some loppers.

This is the second old and small family cemetery I've been able to find with some very valuable help. It made my day! I'm normally at work on Monday, but I had asked for the day off to go to another cemetery. That plan was changed and it wasn't necessary for me to be there. What a day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

William Davis Cemetery, Hinds County, Mississippi

A year or so ago, I found the William Davis Cemetery in Hinds County on Find-A-Grave, and thought it would be a great one to try and find. It's located around Learned, Mississippi which is down Highway 18 between Raymond and Utica. I looked at the description on Find-A-Grave, but it wasn't very helpful, so I Googled it and found a reference to the cemetery behind an African American church. I went there and looked around. I couldn't find anyone to ask that day, so I came on back home.

At some point after I got back home, I decided to email Mary Collins Landin and see if she could give me any clues. If you're not familiar with Ms. Landin, she wrote a wonderful book The Old Cemeteries of Hinds County, Mississippi: From 1811 to the Present. I don't know if you can still get a copy. I ordered my copy from Pioneer Press, but Amazon is out of stock. Years ago, she went all over Hinds County surveying the old cemeteries, at times with her children. In her book, she usually has a little blurb about the cemetery's history and/or it's condition at the present time (1978, I believe).

I don't recall if she responded or not, honestly, but about two weeks ago, I received an email from her saying she was cleaning out her inbox, and came across my message asking about the William Davis Cemetery, and was wondering if I had found it. I replied and told her I haven't. When she replied to my message, she gave me a clue. The cemetery is not behind an African American church. It's actually on the property of Mrs. Rosa Pittman, who lived on Holliday Road. She said it's also know as the Holliday Cemetery. I found Mrs. Pittman's address but not a phone number. So, I typed a letter to send her asking if I could come down on March 5th and take pictures. Unfortunately, I never got it in the mail. This past Saturday, I decided to go ahead and drive down there anyway to the address and see what I could find out.

Ordinaily, I don't go driving up to someone's house at 9:00 on a Saturday morning, but I told myself this time I was. I got to Holliday Road, found the address, and pulled into the driveway. A young lady was standing there close to the house. I introduced myself and told her why I was there. She was very sweet, and told me where the cemetery was, but she wasn't Mrs. Pittman. She's engaged to Mrs. Pittman's grandson. There is a gate that blocked the road and it was locked. I asked if it would be okay to walk around it back to the cemetery. She said that was fine. Well, about that time, a two fellows pull up in a pickup. The gentleman driving was her fiancee and Mrs. Pittman's grandson. No sooner had I explained why I was there and what my name was, he unlocked the gate, told me where the cemetery was, and said to take all the pictures I wanted. They could not have been nicer.

There is a reason for that story. Several events that might seem random to others were meant to be for me. I had completely forgotten about even trying to find the William Davis Cemetery until I received an email from Ms. Landin. If I had shown up there an hour or so later, I would have found everything locked up and no one home. I believe it was time for the cemetery to be found again. Actually a descendant of someone buried there did show up about ten years ago, cleaned the cemetery up, and put a fence around it, but apparently hasn't been back since then. The picture below shows how it looks from where the entrance is.

Once I went through the entrance, you could get a better look at the place.

The ground is covered with periwinkle. I was told it looked a little "snakey", so I wore my snake guards.

Several of hte headstones were visible and in good shape. I ended taking pictures of nine. Several needed a little cleaning. I didn't have any distilled water with me, but I did have several empty jugs and a pond full of water within easy walking distance.

The weather could not have been more perfect and it was so peaceful. I hope to go back down there again, and Mr. Pittman said that was fine. He gave me his cell number and said to just give him a call. The wonderful experience there was just another reason why I enjoy doing what I do.