Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Cemetery Story


This is Chapter Two of a previous post featuring pictures I captured during an "Off the Beaten Path" Adventure in rural Warren County, Mississippi, near Vicksburg. If you would like to read the first chapter before reading this post, you can click on the link.

My previous story ended as I came upon an old family cemetery, standing on a hill near Bovina, Mississippi.

I love exploring old cemeteries, and I had actually seen this one once before, back in May of 2009. At that time, it was almost hidden amongst the tall pasture grass and green leaves of the trees overhead, but I did manage to snap a couple of pictures of it ...

Although I wasn't able to explore the cemetery up close, I was able to find out a good bit about it and the people buried there, just by doing a little research.

As I edited my pictures, I could read part of the names inscribed on one side of the tall monument.

The family's name was Powell, and five members of the Powell family are buried there, according to the inscription. When I deciphered the names, I went to the Find a Grave website, and searched for "Powell Cemetery, Warren County, MS," and discovered that there are also four other people buried there whose relationship to the Powell family I couldn't ascertain — three were named McInnis, and the fourth was named Pettit.

According to the information found on the website, the McInnises and one member of the Powell family died in the Fall of 1878. While researching that date in Mississippi history, I came across an article on the PBS website entitled The Great Fever, which told the story of the 1878 epidemic of Yellow Fever, and how it spread from the island of Cuba, to the docks and city of New Orleans, and, finally, swept through the Mississippi Valley. The epidemic claimed nearly 20,000 lives and earned a reputation as one of the most deadly and terrifying events in United States history.

The article included a story about a towboat that dropped two crew members with yellow fever in Vicksburg, on July 27, 1878, and another infected crew member died on the boat that night. I assume that the fever rapidly spread through the city of Vicksburg, and to the surrounding areas, which is how the McInnises and Alex Powell became victims and were laid to rest in this peaceful little country cemetery near Bovina, Mississippi.

To me, one of the many pleasures of being a photographer is discovering the stories behind the pictures I capture. I have learned a lot of history and uncovered some very interesting stories as a result of my curiosity, and will never cease to be amazed at what you can find out about a subject just by doing a little research on the Internet. The Powell Cemetery is a perfect example — when I snapped those pictures, I had no idea they would lead to my learning about "The Great Fever of 1878," and its role in the history of the United States.

4 comments:

Richard Cottrell said...

I love the moss of the fence. Great job. Richard from My Old Historic House.

Carolyn said...

Love the history and beauty!
Carolyn

racheld said...

What a sweet place of rest, after such a terrible tragedy. This was the same epidemic which claimed the Methua/Scheller family which I wrote about last year---quite possibly in exactly the same time frame.

You've captured the serenity and the repose, and may they rest in peace.

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