Sunday, February 26, 2017

Martin Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

I was looking through the cemeteries in Yazoo County last week, and as I scrolled through the list, I came upon Martin Cemetery. There were three requests and no map. There are 15 people interred there but no photographs. It looked like it was right up my alley.

When I searched for it online, I couldn't find any coordinates for it anywhere. I did find the township, range and section for it, which is 10N, 2W, 17. Great. Now all I needed to do was find a plat map. That ended up being easier said than done. I finally found one that was put out by the Department of Transportation. I was able to download the pdf, and see about where I needed to go.

It looked like I needed to get to Highway 433 heading toward Highway 3 and away from Bentonia. I would come to a right which is Anding-Oil City Road, and then turn left off of it on Cessna Road just past Oil City. I've been down Anding-Oil City Road before, but from the opposite direction. There was a neat little general store there where I could pick up a Coke and a pack of Nabs. The last time through, it was closed. I was in for a surprise this time.

It's now the Oil Field Cafe. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be open for lunch on Saturdays, or I would have checked it out when I headed back home.

I kept driving through Oil City until I came to Cessna Road. Cessna Road is a narrow dirt road. I really don't know how far it goes, but it appeared that at one point it runs parallel to the train tracks, and I was thinking that was around where I wanted to be. According to the map, that looks like it's about center of section 17. Cessna Road is really cool. At one point it's like you're driving in a canyon with bluffs on either side of the road.

I don't know how tall the bluffs were at this point, but they were a good bit taller than me. I found out later on that at this point the cemetery was actually to my left and just a little behind me in the woods. That's par for the course. Anyway, I kept on driving until the road came to the railroad tracks. I stayed to the left on Cessna and drove parallel to the tracks. The last person I spoke with about Martin Cemetery understood it to be overgrown and in a pasture. That was my recollection anyway. So, I slowed down and looked for either some sign of it, or some sign of life that I could ask about it.

I hadn't driven that far when I decided to turn around and go back the way I came. As I was driving along, I spotted the mail carrier coming my way. How fortuitous! I stopped and got out of the car and walked to where he was putting mail in a box. I asked him about the cemetery, and he said he drives right by an old cemetery on his route, and to just follow him. Cool! I turned around again and headed back toward where Cessna goes over the railroad tracks. Of course we were stopped by a train. Natch. After it passed we drove for what may have been a mile or two. He slowed down and pulled over. He pointed out a small cemetery in a clearing right off the road. I wouldn't know if it was the Martin Cemetery or not until I got out and checked it out. I thanked the mail carrier for his help, and he went on his way. I pulled over and walked across the street. Looking at the first headstone I came to, I realized this wasn't the cemetery I was looking for. As it turned out, it was the Cessna Cemetery. One thing about it that's interesting is that there are a couple of Civil War veterans buried there, one being Mr. F. M. Cessna.

After taking all the pictures I could at Cessna, I headed back the way I came. This time I was hoping to see someone out and about. The only drawback to going graving early on a Saturday morning is the folks usually like to sleep in. I had passed three or four houses that were quiet other than a dog in front of one that was barking but didn't seem to be too serious about it. He or she never stood up. Getting close to where I started on Cessna Road, I spotted a couple of SUVs and a pickup with a trailer parked on a road. They were tearing down a house. I was pretty sure I'd find somebody there.

As I started walking up the road, a young many came walking toward me. I can still kick myself for not writing down his name or the gentleman he would introduce me to. I introduced myself and told him what I was looking for. He said he knew of two old cemeteries in the area. The first one he described was Cessna, where I had just been. The other one was just a short drive up the road, but he didn't know where. He mentioned that he's buying the property the demolished house is on belongs to "Mr. Benny", who lives in the house right across the street. Mr. Benny came out and I introduced myself to him as well. He seemed a little wary at first. The first thing he wanted to know if is I were a grave robber. I assured him I wasn't. I just wanted to take pictures. As he found our more of what I was about, he seemed to loosen up and was downright friendly when we parted ways. Yep, he knew exactly where it was and gave me directions to it. He did mention that it's on private property and advised I might want to check with the landowner, but he really didn't know how to contact him. Anyway, I thanked him and headed out while the two men visited a bit. As I mentioned by picture above with the bluffs, I was right there earlier but Martin Cemetery is not something you can see from the road.

Mr. Benny told me I should look for the third gate on the left, and it would be just a short distance from there on a bluff in the woods. I came to the gate and parked. I probably shouldn't mention how I got past the locked gate, but I didn't carry any of my stuff with me at first. I just wanted to find it. After walking for a few minutes, I spotted an obelisk shaped monument in the distance. That had to be it. As I got closer, I could see the other headstones.

How about that? I walked back to my car and got my camera, loppers, clippers, and such and headed back. For a cemetery as old as it is, I think the headstones were, for the most part, in excellent shape. Several could stand a good cleaning, but I didn't bring water with me, other than to drink. I clipped back the vegetation where I needed to in order to get decent pictures. After I had taken all I could find, I spent some time just enjoying the peace and solitude. I don't think I heard anything, not even the first bird. I did see a vulture flying overhead pretty low. I'm sure he probably wanted to know what the living was doing there.

If had brought a lounge chair, I could sit there for some time, but I didn't and I was through, so it was time to head back. I was hoping to catch up to Mr. Benny and the young man who introduced me to him. I didn't see anything going on with the house demolition, and it was right about lunch time, so I figured I wouldn't worry with it. I do want to say that every time I have been in Yazoo County and dealt with anybody, they have always been pleasant. It really helps make for a great experience. The trip home was uneventful, fortunately. I got home, fixed a cup of coffee, and enjoyed adding the pictures I took to Martin Cemetery. Now to find another... Too many cemeteries but not enough time.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Back to Bradshaw Cemetery

Last weekend, I received an email from Southern Heritage Genealogy. The message concerned the Bradshaw Cemetery in Yazoo County. A couple of years back I was fortunate enough to meet the owners of the property that Bradshaw Cemetery can be found on, and who took me there to see it.

I was reluctant to give out the owners' email address, so I emailed them to let them know I was forwarding an email to them, and basically what the email was about. The two parties got together and scheduled a trip to the cemetery for this past Thursday.

The person who is Southern Heritage Genealogy is Ms. Kim Richardson and the owners of the property are Mr. Charles and Mrs. Cecille Hintson. Ms. Richardson let me know when they were supposed to meet and was gracious enough to say I was welcome to come along. Well, I wasn't going to pass on that opportunity. So, Monday when I went into work, I asked my boss if there would be a problem taking off on such short notice. Fortunately he said that would be fine. I'm not sure what I would have done if he said no.

We were scheduled to meet up at 12:30 Thursday afternoon. Since I took the day off, I thought I'd see if there were any requests for Wesley Chapel Cemetery, which is just right up the road. As it turned out, there were 11 requests. I decided to leave here around 9:00 or so, and that would give me a couple of hours at Wesley Chapel before meeting the Hintsons and Ms. Richardson.

I finished up at Wesley Chapel about 12:15 or so. I had found 8 of the requested headstones. 2 of them were broken up, but I'm pretty sure I know who they're for. The Bradshaw Cemetery is on private property off of Russelville Road, which was just across the street from where Mechanicsburg Road intersects with Phoenix Road. I knew about where it was, and I remember from the first time that Mrs. Hintson had to open a gate for us to drive through. Russelville Road is a dirt and gravel road. I drove pretty slow looking for a gate I hoped I'd remember. After a few minutes, I came to a gate that I recognized.

The "B" is for Bradshaw. I knew I was where I needed to be, so I just turned the car off and enjoyed a few minutes of peace and quiet on a beautiful day.

While I was waiting, a front end loader came up the road, and to the very gate. A gentleman hopped out and opened it. Just to verify I was right, I asked him if that was Bradshaw property. He said it was. He was just there to pick up a couple of bales of hay which was to the left inside the fence. I walked back to me car and it wasn't long before I saw a tan colored pickup and car behind it coming up the road. I knew that was the Hintsons and Ms. Richardson. They turned onto the property and I pulled in behind. We drove for a short distance and parked. Mr. Hintson suggested we all go in his truck to the cemetery. There was a gentleman with the Hintsons that I didn't know. His name is Howard Park, and is a nephew of the Hintsons. He and Mr. Hintson are both retired and spend a lot of time together. Ms. Richardson and I gathered up what we wanted to take, put it in the bed of the truck and got in. Mr. Park rode in the bed.

Taking the truck was an excellent idea. I know my little Ford Escort wouldn't have made it. At one point, Mr. Hintson had to put his truck in 4-wheel drive to get through soft grass and mud. After a short drive from where we parked, we pulled up to the cemetery.

Ms. Richardson is a genealogist, and the main reason we were there. She was working on some research. We were hoping to find a couple of headstones in particular. One was for Eliza Johnson, and the other was for her grandfather, Ben Johnson. According to the documentation on the cemetery, Eliza Johnson is buried there, but there's no mention of Ben Johnson. We also wanted to find the headstones for Colonel William Ward (1769-1836) and another William Ward (1812-1843). Mr. Hintson knew about where they were, so we headed to that part of the cemetery. We found the Wards. They just happened to be next to a tree with an active bee hive. Mr. Hintson advised us not to walk close to the tree and just leave them alone, and they'd leave us alone. That worked just fine, but I have to admit that constant buzzing made me just a bit nervous. Just past the Ward graves was a headstone that was very hard to read. It was for Eliza Johnson. It's obvious that Ms. Richardson doesn't only do research at a computer terminal or in a library. She pulled out some paper, taped it to Eliza's headstone and started rubbing with rubbing wax to pull out the details. That was very cool. I've only tried aluminum foil, and the results were okay, but I'll be picking up paper and the rubbing wax first chance I get.

We noticed a headstone that had been broken off but was still in the ground. There was no inscription that we could see. Ms. Richardson brought a probe and a trowel. She's also not opposed to getting a little dirt under her fingernails. She probed and dug hoping to find the rest of the headstone either in front of or behind what was left. She also brought two shovels. Mr. Park drove back to her car and picked them up. He and Mr. Hintson assisted Ms. Richardson. Unfortunately though, no remains of the headstone were found other than a few pieces which had flaked off.

Having found whatever information the two headstones had to offer, we spent a little time walking around and checking the headstones found with the list that Mr. and Mrs. Hintson had come up with. Bradshaw Cemetery is a pretty little cemetery with cedars and Spanish moss, and the day was gorgeous. We probably could have spent more time there, but it was time to take our stuff to the truck and head out.

When we drove off, I was thinking we were going back to where we were parked. I was delighted when we pulled up in front of the Bradshaw Place instead. It's thought the house was build back in the 1830's at some point. It's a dog trot. There have been changes made over time, but it's still in good shape, and even still has wooden gutters. The Hintsons let us come in and see the place. It's very neat! After getting something to drink, we all went out front and the Hintsons locked up. I know folks don't usually like to have their picture taken, but I really wanted a group photo. It was a great afternoon spent with four special people.

From left to right are Mr. Howard Park, Mr. Charles Hintson, Mrs. Cecille Hintson, and Ms. Kim Richardson.

I don't profess to be a writer or a photographer. I just hope to keep track of the places I've been, the folks I've met, and the things I've seen. Graving may be different things to different people, but to me it's never dull or boring and often very gratifying.

I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Hintson for allowing me on their property again and for being so kind. They're a pleasure to be around.