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Sardis Cemetery

Sardis Cemetery

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  • Date Posted: May 3, 2014
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  • Address: Holly Springs, MS 38635, USA

In the fall of 2008, two of my brothers were deer hunting in North Central Mississippi a few miles east of Holly Springs, on what is a combination of Holly Springs National Forest and private owned lease land.
They had lost a deer and since it was getting close to dark, they set out on foot to look for it. One of my brothers tripped over a partially buried headstone and fell smack into the middle of a small overgrown cemetery. They of course had to tell me about it, knowing how much I love exploring historic, lost cemeteries.
So, my brother Daniel took Tony and I on about a half mile hiking trip, up some old 4wheeler trails, off a dirt road, that we had driven, for at least a mile off the highway. I could not find it again without his guidance. Anyway, at the time we went, after the hunting season ended and before it was quite warm enough for snake activity, we set off into the woods to find it. There were numerous huge trees that had been layed down by recent tornado and straight line wind damage. After climbing through heavy brush and covered foot trails, we located the cemetery.

My brother, who is also a curious history lover, had inquired with the elderly African American woman who owned the property and was allowing them to hunt there, about the history of the cemetery.

This is his account to me.
From what he had learned from the woman, who’s name is being kept confidential for privacy reasons, the story of the cemetery is that, at one time, the land was owned by her family. There was a small cabin to the north of the cemetery where her family lived, which no longer stands, except for a lonely chimney, out in the woods. They had a large apple orchard and set up a fruit stand near a main road every year to sell apples. Their small place was known simply as The Apple Orchard. There was also a small wood framed African American church that sat at the top of the hill near their home. It had long ago burned down and the only thing left of it now is an old well hole. The name of the original church was not remembered by the lady, however, I was informed by Mrs. Deb Haynes of the following information regarding the cemetery:

Your brothers stumbled upon the “Sardis Cemetery”. I checked the cemetery book for Sarah Ann Tomlinson, wife of HM, and the dates match from your picture to the cemetery book ( photo of stone at bottom of page) . It is located R 1 W, T 3 S, Section 30. There are 12 names in Bobby Mitchell’s book, so there were at least 12 readable headstones located there back in the 1970s and 1980s. submitted by deb haines

Mr Bobby Mitchell is a well known local historian and member of the Marshall Co. Genealogy Society in Holly Springs Ms. and he has documented and published many of the cemeteries listings located in Marshall County. His books can be found in the History Room at the Marshall Co.Public Library in Holly Springs Ms.

What is known, is that there are several children buried in the cemetery, who died in the yellow fever epidemics in the 1870’s
We uncovered several readable stones and some that had no markings at all. The gravesites being marked by large heavy field stones.

My brother stated that he avoided walking near this area while hunting because he always got the feeling he was being watched. On several occasions he thought he had heard children laughing and saw shadows moving in the bushes as well as hearing footsteps on the trail following him when no one was there. Due to the location of the cemetery, we did not do a dull scale investigation. We simply took pictures, scouted the location and ran audio EVP sessions. At one point I had put my recorder down on a headstone near where I was standing so I could photograph the stones. I was having a conversation with my brother about a recent trip we had taken to Shiloh Battlefield and I felt what felt like cobwebs on my right arm. There was nothing there, but it did stop me in mid sentence which you can hear on our audio file. When I played the audio back we had recorded two EVP, one prior to the experience and a few seconds after the experience which all happened within a minute. I will post the audio files when the program is up and running. The audio clips are definately children.

We have not been able to go back to investigate this cemetery further due to the State doing tree clearing work and the arrival of snake season, but as of the time of this trip we counted approxamately 15 grave markers and I’m sure there were more that we did not discover due to the heavy brush and downed trees. However, this was a remarkable place and I appreciate Daniel taking the time to show it to us.

Recently I was told that the State had widened the trail that leads to the cemetery but 4 wheelers are no longer allowed on the trails. I was also told that many of the downed trees have been cleared and that the cemetery boundaries have been taped off. I hope to visit it again someday, I just haven’t decided which to risk, an encounter with the summer snakes and numerous wild animals reported in the area, or the deer and wild boar hunters. Neither season sounds very appealing.

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