Natchez, MS

A Cemetery that should be on your 'Bucket List'

Sarah Walker Gorrell

This year, it will be observing its 200th year! It overlooks the mighty Mississippi River on almost 26 acres on the bluffs in Natchez, Mississippi, managed by the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Enter the old cemetery through the double stone pillars, and notice the beautiful oak trees with limbs arching over the drives.

The old cemetery, with over 19,000 graves, is home to many unusual tombstones.

One stone with only the name, Louise the Unfortunate, has no dates, but the stories handed down through the years are varied and many. According to local folklore, Louise was a "mail-order bride," but her fiance (if there ever was one) never appeared. A recent story on the website Random Times stated that "she died, in her early twenties, after a life of prostitution in seedy brothels." A wealthy benefactor paid her funeral expenses.

Another grave of interest is that of Florence Irene Ford, who died at age ten during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. Her distraught mother had her daughter buried in a coffin with a window over her face. Because Florence was afraid of storms, her mother had a stairway built into the grave so that she could go down and comfort her daughter during storms. A hinged trapdoor covered the stairs so Florence's mother would stay dry during the storm.

Another tombstone that one should not miss is that of Rufus Case. Mr. Case wanted to be buried in his favorite rocking chair next to his child or grandchild (who had preceded him in death) and face his home state of Louisiana. A brick structure surrounds both graves.

The cemetery's most famous area and tombstone are where five young women died in an explosion on March 14, 1908, at the Natchez Drug Company. The entire five-story building was destroyed, and many people were killed, including the five young women (the youngest was 12) who worked there.

The explosion caused the drug company to go out of business, but the owner was so distraught that he purchased the lots to bury his employees, and he had a monument with an Angel overlooking their graves.

The monument is 'The Turning Angel' because the headlights of cars going down Cemetery Road appear to make the Angel turn.

There are many other stones in the cemetery with their own stories.

The 200th-year celebration will be held this year on the consecutive weekends of November 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.

Natchez City Cemetery, as well as many other historic old city sites, is a great weekend getaway.

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An Author, Blogger, and Freelancer, Sarah often writes articles of interest for her local small-town newspaper, The Post. Her greatest attribute is that her descriptive text makes one feel as if they are on her journey. She loves "keeping in touch" with family and friends and delves deep into her family's history. She never passes an old cemetery or the opportunity to photograph a church steeple. Her two Pomeranians, "Precious the Weather Dog," and "Bella the little black beast" have a piece of her heart.

Taylorsville, MS
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