Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Hopewell Cemetery, Warren County, MS

I recently visited the Old Hopewell Cemetery, which is located in Warren County, Mississippi, about five miles south of Vicksburg, off US Highway 61.

It is also the site of the Hopewell Methodist Church, circa 1805, which was the first church in Warren County.

The cemetery sits on a slight rise, with the monuments and headstones randomly scattered amongst palmettos and moss-draped trees. It is a peaceful place, set under a shady canopy of towering oak trees.

One of the most awe-inspiring things about the cemetery is that it is 206 years old, making it older than the City of Vicksburg, which was founded in 1811 (according to the official City of Vicksburg website).

Local historian Gordon Cotton states there are about 35 marked graves at the cemetery, but ground indentations indicate there were more.

When I googled "Hopewell Cemetery, Warren County, MS," I came across a website called Find a Grave, which claims there were 62 interments at Hopewell, including several unknowns.

I tried to capture each marker with my camera, as a photo record, and, as a result of my research on the cemetery, I discovered several references from the Find a Grave website, which I found interesting.

This post has evolved into a more detailed account of my visit to Hopewell than I had originally planned, but to do it justice (and as a source of genealogical information for those who may be searching for relatives who were buried in this area), I am going to include the names and pictures of each marker I found, and will also share a few of the epitaphs and interesting stories I discovered about several of the people buried there.

Let's begin with these five markers, which first captured my attention near the entrance to the cemetery.

Four of them honor Confederate soldiers who died in 1863 ...

Dennis Oren

Asa G. Kincaid

Alexander Givens

And George W. Dodson

The fifth marker belongs to Micaijah Terrell, "a Virginian who departed this life in 1841." His epitaph reads: An honest man, the noblest work of God.

I found several stones with touching inscriptions that tugged at my heart, especially this memorial for a one-year-old little boy named Egbert J. Sessions ...

Born March 19, 1851
Died May 8, 1852

Earth hath one mortal less,
Heaven, one angel more.

And this marker honoring an unidentified "Infant Child" was heartbreaking to me. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words ...

And speaking of "words," this is a rather wordy tribute to a lady named Hibernia Caroline Henderson:

Hibernia Caroline
Wife of John Henderson
Born Dec 3rd, 1819
Died May 25, 1854

Goodbye beloved wife and mother,
Thy Heavenly soul hath passed from earth forever;
And we but oh! can words our loss declare,
But hope when time on earth shall end,
To meet thee in heaven, never! never!! to part again.

This young man may have been a victim of the 1853 Yellow Fever epidemic* that swept through Louisiana and Mississippi ...

Andrew J. DeLong


To know him was to love him, yet far from his home surrounded by friends, in the morn of his youth was suddenly cut down, yet the messenger came, he meekly obeyed. Erected by his uncle J. Fenimore

[*Twenty-eight people died at Warrenton of yellow fever in the summer of 1853. Four victims were taken from steamboats and buried at Hopewell, their identities unknown.]

One known victim of Yellow Fever was Reverend B. Frazee, whose inscription reads:

This monument is erected by the Citizens of Warrenton Vicinity to the memory of Rev B. Frazee. Died of yellow fever at his residence near Warrenton, Sept 29th 1853, Aged 46 yrs.

It goes on to say:

He died as all men ought to die,
In the faithful performance of his duty.

Elizabeth Alias Jones

I wondered about the "Alias" as part of her name on the stone, and while searching the internment records for Hopewell, came across the following explanation:

"Elizabeth was a Hyland before she married a Jones, and in the family Bible her name was written 'Elizabeth Alias Hyland Jones.' Whoever copied it for the stone cutter listed her as 'Elizabeth Alias Jones,' and thus it is listed on her marker."

I found the inscription on the stone rather puzzling, too:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

And while we're on the subject of puzzling epitaphs, here is one that really piqued my curiosity:

It reads: To the memory of Joseph Prentice, born in Warrenton, Miss., June 6, 1829: Died in Mississippi City by the falling of a house Sept. 15, 1855.

According to the interment records of the Find a Grave website for Hopewell Cemetery, "Joseph Prentiss was the victim of a hurricane on the Gulf Coast on Sept. 15, 1855, at Mississippi City. His tombstone says he was killed by the falling of a house. It was a place with a unique name, 'The Blue Ruin.'"

Another story I found interesting is about a man named William Lewis.

I wasn't able to decipher all of the inscription on his vault, but could make out the following:

Wm. Lewis, a native of South Carolina, he settled at this place in 1803 [indecipherable]. He died in the year 1819, Aged 50 years. Erected by his granddaughter Martha Sessions.

The interment records indicate that Mr. Lewis "gave a public burial place and built Hopewell Church in 1819. Supposedly, he and his wife Mary divorced in 1818 — Mary claimed that he verbally abused her, and William said she had a bad temper. In an era when divorces were only granted for adultery or abandonment, William and Mary got theirs because they were just sick of each other."

U. B. Morrow
Sacred to the memory of U.B. Morrow
Born March 5, 1834
Departed this life Oct. 1, 1855
Peace to his remains

I am including the remaining pictures just because I have them, and as a matter of record for anyone interested in Hopewell Cemetery.

I cannot verify the accuracy of the information I gathered for this post, but assume the sources used were reliable.

Elizabeth Pettit Donohue

William G. Bittner

James N. Bittner

Emily Bittner

[No first name] Stockton,
Erected by his son W. A. Stockton

Sessions Family Plot

Alfred Sessions

Part of this monument was broken off and lying between the vaults ...

The inscription reads:

In memory of E. J. Sessions
Born Sept 20, 1811, Died Aug. 9, 1855
Aged 43 years, 10 months
ALSO our three infants.
Erected by his Wife M. A. Sessions

So sad ... what heartache that dear lady must have endured.

Smith Family Plot
Susan C. Smith, Benjamin F. Smith
and their 13-month-old daughter, Ann Franklin Smith

Susan H. Schweppe

Marel Rowland

Christopher H. Reeves

Pettit Family Plot

Rebecca Larrimore Pettit
2nd wife of Benjamin Pettit

Benjamin Pettit, born 1750, died 1827
[Captain, Revolutionary War]

Henry N. L. Pahlen

Georgian Nusom, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Nusom

These two Mississippi men (brothers?) fought in the War of 1812 ...

John Hyland

Christopher Hyland

Henry Clay Heisenbuttle, son of E. and S. J. Heisenbuttle

H. Heisenbuttle

Minerva Gardner, wife of James Gardner

Infant Son of J. and Mirva A. Gardner
(Notice misspelling of Minerva's name)

I didn't find Minerva's husband James Gardner's grave, but understand from the cemetery records that he was a blacksmith and a carpenter who was arrested by the yankees in 1862, then released. He made caskets, a number of which are probably in Hopewell Cemetery.

There are several more gravesites which I didn't find that are listed on the "Find a Grave" website for Hopewell. I stumbled over several broken bricks and stones as I walked through the cemetery, so a lot of the markers have probably been swallowed up by the earth.

Not so, the memory of those who lie beneath the sod on that hillside called Old Hope Cemetery ... thanks to the beautiful stone memorials placed there by their loved ones centuries ago — and to the efforts and hard work of historians and preservationists like Mr. Gordon Cotton and the Vicksburg and Warren County Preservation Society. I'm so glad I was able to preserve some of them in the pictures I captured, too.


Carolyn said...

What a beautiful post! The human story told on these old stones is priceless. Thanks for taking us along.

IM said...

Very beautiful pictures and a very touching story. I read your blog very often and it is a big inspiration.
Thanks for writing such a fantastic blog, I hope you will continue for a very long time.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Janie, you are a treasure. People will be so thankful to have these pictures and info who are doing genealogy research. Bless you!

I wanted to stop by and thank you for your very sweet words on my last post. You are dear to me, and I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers more than you will ever know. It's been a difficult time, but I am trying to start blogging a little. Just lots going on to keep me away at present.

Hoping you are enjoying the beauty of fall in Mississippi. We are finally getting some cooler weather here.

Blessings to you and yours...



Merisi said...

this is such a touching testimony!
Thank you for collecting all these images and stories, a moving labor of love.

Alethea said...

Wow, just wow.

Mark said...

Beautiful post with wonderful pictures. With efforts like yours, we learn a little bit more about those that came before us, and they won't be forgotten.