A sassy little mockingbird had perfect timing as I was taking this photo in Natchez City Cemetery. This is the Andrew Brown Memorial (1789 – 1871). Andrew was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He trained as an architect and migrated to Natchez, by way of Pittsburgh, in 1820. In Natchez, he worked as a builder and established his own lumber business.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
If you have not finished the S-Town podcast, please do not read any further or view the photos and descriptions included in this blog until after you have listened to the podcast in its entirety.
If you have listened to the popular podcast, S-Town, you have probably been curious about what the town looks like. Maybe you’ve wanted to drive through S-Town, just to see the town featured in the podcast and possibly understand a bit more of John B. McLemore’s world. I recently visited and wanted to share some of the sights that are of note.
John B. McLemore reached out to reporter, Brian Reed, to ask him to investigate what he believed to be a murder in his small Alabama S*** t Town. He hated that he kept hearing stories about Kabrum Burt, a member of a local family, murdering someone and getting away with it. The Burt family is well off and owned local lumber stores known as K3 Lumber. It’s important to note that Reed investigated and discovered the murder never happened. As is often the case, a story was told and kept being told and was blown out of proportion. But without that story, Brian Reed would have never met John B. McLemore and we would never have heard about his life. Here are some photos from John’s world of Woodstock and Greenpond, Alabama…
K3 Supply, formerly known as K3 Lumber, in Greenpond
***This is one of the businesses owned by the Burt family.
Entrance to John B’s property
***The public is not allowed on the property so I wasn’t able to see the maze. I have heard it’s overgrown now.
John B’s Little Ceasar’s Pizza Palace
View as you drive the road to Greenpond Presbyterian Cemetery, where John B. is buried
Entrance to Greenpond Presbyterian Cemetery.
***If you ever visit and want to pay your respects, enter this gate for easiest access to John’s gravesite
John B’s Grave
Christ Church Frederica, on St Simons Island in Georgia, was established in 1808 and is the 2nd oldest church in Georgia. The original church building was constructed in 1820 but was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. In 1884, Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, lead the rebuilding of the church as an act of love and remembrance of his wife, Ellen, who had died recently. The church still stands today as a memorial to her. Ellen is buried beneath the alter. The author, Eugenia Price, brought the Dodge family and so many other interesting and inspirational families to life on the pages of her St Simons Trilogy. She’s buried here as well. Highly recommend her books if you love St Simons and the Savannah area and you appreciate novels that are inspired by real people.
I’ve seen a lot of cemetery monuments over the years but I’ve rarely felt as moved by one as I was when I saw this one in Greenville Cemetery in Washington County, Mississippi. This is the gravesite for Senator Leroy Percy and the monument is called “The Patriot”. The Norman knight honors Percy who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Mississippi. Here’s how the story is described in John Barry’s “Rising Tide”: “In 1922 Percy rose to national prominence for confronting the Ku Klux Klan when it attempted to organize members in Washington County during the years of its revival in the South and growth in the Midwest. On March 1, 1922, the Klan planned a recruiting session at the Greenville county courthouse. Percy arrived during a speech by the Klan leader Joseph Camp, who was attacking blacks, Jews, and Catholics. After Camp finished, Percy approached the podium and proceeded to dismantle Camp’s speech to thunderous applause, concluding with the plea, ‘Friends, let this Klan go somewhere else where it will not do the harm that it will in this community. Let them sow dissension in some community less united than is ours.’ After Percy stepped down, an ally of his in the audience rose to put forth a resolution, secretly written by Percy, condemning the Klan. The resolution passed, and Camp ceased his efforts to establish the Klan in Washington County. Percy’s speech and victory drew praise from newspapers around the nation.”
A mother will do anything to protect her child, even beyond this life. This is the grave of Florence Irene Ford in Natchez City Cemetery. Florence died when she was 10. Yellow fever took her from her family. During her life she was extremely frightened of storms. Whenever one occurred she would rush to her mother to find comfort. Upon her death her mother was so struck with grief that she had Florence’s casket constructed with a glass window at the child’s head. The grave was dug to provide an area, the same depth of the coffin, at the child’s head, but this area had steps that would allow the mother to descend to her daughter’s level so she could comfort Florence during storms. To shelter the mother during storms, hinged metal trap doors were installed over the area the mother would occupy while at her child’s grave. In the mid 1950s a concrete wall was erected at the bottom of the stairway covering the glass window of Florence’s coffin to prevent vandalism. This photo shows the grave and you can see the trap doors, which cover the stairway her mother used.
Notice the pennies on the headstone? There are many reasons people leave coins on graves but it is generally meant to be a sign that the life lost had value and meaning and will never be forgotten.