Friday, November 18, 2016

Pickett Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

Since I'm off this week, I had planned on doing some graving. I went to Haley Cemetery in Madison County Monday, and felt like getting out again yesterday. Since I had been to Madison County, I thought I'd check Find-A-Grave for cemeteries in Yazoo County. I found one that had a map and a list of people interred there, but no pictures. I settled on Pickett Cemetery

The GPS coordinates have it just outside of Benton. I've been to Benton a time or two and always enjoy just driving through that little small town.

There are different ways to get to Benton from Jackson. I chose taking I-55 to Canton, mainly to stop at McDonald's in Canton for a small Coke and two sausage and biscuits. I could have just gotten off on the second Canton exit, and coming back I just got onto I-55 from off of Highway 16. From Canton, I think it's about a 20 minute drive to Benton on Highway 16. When I got to Benson, I took the first exit. You can go up further and cut back on 433, I believe it is, or maybe Old Highway 16. Anyway, you come to a 3 way stop. I turned left at the stop sign and drove the block to Berry's Quick Stop.

I wanted to ask the folks who work there if they're familiar with Pickett Cemetery and if they know if it's on private property or not. Well, neither of the people working there knew anything about it. A gentleman there pulled up the route to Pickett Cemetery and could tell it was just right up the road. Basically, the response was to go for it. I thanked him for his time, and headed out. After looking a Berry's on Yelp a few minutes ago, it appears I messed up by not stopping back by after graving for a hamburger. It sounds like they cook a great one. I'll check it out next time.

According to the GPS coordinates, the cemetery should be right up the road where Highways 433 and 432 split. It's supposed to be right off of 432. As soon as I got on 432, I started looking to my right to see if I could see any signs of the cemetery or a possible way to get to it. At .3 mile, I pulled up by a clearing with what looks like a wide path that was also wide enough to drive on. This is not a great picture, but hopefully you can see how the path goes back into the woods.

The night before I had created a way point for the cemetery, so I turned my Garmin on and as soon as the satellites were acquired, I pulled up the way point and pushed "Go". Then I changed to the compass function on the Garmin. It said something like 232 feet, and in the direction of the clearing. I put on my boots and my snake guards, grabbed the stuff I knew I'd need, and headed off in the direction of the cemetery.

It only took a few minutes of walking. As soon as I got close to the end of the path, I spotted a lone headstone. Looking off in the distance, I could see several more.

When I looked at the lone headstone, I could tell it wasn't on the list I had of those interred there. I got a quick picture and walked to the next group of headstones. There I found several folks I was looking for. Their last name was either Schaffer or Schaffers. They were lined up horizontally. None of them needed to be cleaned. They were in good shape, but then they weren't that old either. After getting those pictures, I moved to another row 20 or 30 feet away. The Schaffer(s) were on my list, but none of that group were. I went ahead and got pictures. While taking pictures, I noticed off in the distance a another headstone. There were all over out here. As I was taking pictures, I got to one headstone that was going to have be cleaned in order to get a decent picture. I had a gallon of water and a scrub brush in my trunk. It was short walk back to the car, so I went for it.

I decided to go ahead and get the pictures I could, then I'd clean the ones which needed it and photograph them last. I'm not great on distances, but I'll say the other headstone was about 30 or 40 feet away. When I walked to that headstone, I could see 3 others. Several limbs had fallen and just missed one of the memorials. You can see the limb in the bottom right corner.

Two of the three headstones were for members of the Schaffer family. One was just a blank slab. It was perfectly smooth. There were just no engravings in it yet. I think that was a first for me.

I cleaned up the stones that needed it as well as I could. I was at least able to see the names and dates, except for one. It looks like the name and dates were engraved, and then painted white. I could make out the person's name, but not the dates. I got what I could.

Not seeing anymore headstones, I gathered my stuff up and headed back to the car. It was another beautiful day, and I think if I had brought a rake, I might have spent some time looking for more headstones, possibly some buried under limbs and leaves.

Last night I started looking into some of the names there and from looking at census records and other records, I realized that this Pickett Cemetery is a Black cemetery. That might explain why the folks at Berry's had never heard of it. I'm not sure where the name came from. I didn't see the first Pickett grave. After going back on Find-A-Grave, I noticed there is another Pickett Cemetery not far up the road headed back to Canton. As it turns out, there are several Picketts buried there.

Well, it was a perfect day to get out of the house and into the woods. I still have another day or so before I have to go back to work, so I'll have to find another cemetery to look for. Graving is addicting!

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