From Sunday, July 21 through Friday, July 26, Sweetums and I drove 2,150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, to Fort Worth, Texas, and back again.Some of you followed along on social media but I promised more detailed posts on all our stops. It will take a few weeks to get to them all. I am planning to post in order of the trip. The map is below. Most sites will be included in my upcoming Guide to Southern Oddities. Meanwhile, check out my personal Facebook page or Kelly Kazek’s Weird South or Instagram.
Stop No. 7: Natchez City Cemetery
2 Cemetery Road, Natchez, Miss.
The City of Natchez website says the cemetery was established in 1822, at which time many bodies were moved from older burial grounds, including those on plantations. It was filled with fascinating memorials. Here are stories behind just a few:
The Storm Shelter Grave
Florence Irene Ford (September 3, 1861-October 30-1871)
Natchez City Cemetery, Natchez, Miss.
I knew I had to find one of the most unusual graves I’ve ever read about, that of 10-year-old Florence Ford, who was reportedly buried in a coffin with a viewing glass above the child’s face. The gravesite includes a set of stairs behind the headstone leading into the ground. Florence had always been terrified of storms so her mother built the stairs so could check on her little girl during storms by looking through the window at the bottom of the stairs and into the grave.
It was certainly a fascinating sight, although the window in the wall has long since been covered.
The Natchez City Cemetery website says, “Ten-year-old Florence died of yellow fever. During her short life she was extremely frightened of storms and 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.”
The Turning Angel
On March 14, 1908, a gas explosion destroyed the five-story Natchez Drug Co. and killed several employees – an article from the time puts the number at eight. The angel watches over five young girls who worked there, ages 12 to 22. Buried beneath the angel’s gaze are:
- Luella D. Booth (date unknown – March 14, 1908)
- Mary E. Worthy (date unknown – March 14, 1908)
- Carrie D. Murray. (March 5, 1886 – March 14, 1908)
- Inez Netterville (date unknown – March 14, 1908)
- Ada White (June 1888 – March 14, 1908)
The City of Natchez website says, “The owner of the Natchez Drug Company was so devastated that he purchased a lot to bury his employees and he purchased this angel monument to place at their gravesite. His youngest employee was 12 years old …This monument is now referred to as ‘The Turning Angel’ because at night when cars drive by on Cemetery Road their headlights shine upon the monument and to some it appears to turn as their car passes by.”
Louise the Unfortunate
Here’s a tidbit from my story on It’s a Southern Thing:
No one knows when the headstone for Louise was erected or who is buried at the site. According to legend – because of course such a mysterious tombstone has a legend – Louise came to Natchez to be married. She may have come from New Orleans by steamboat, landing at the city’s disreputable Under-the-Hill neighborhood. She was either unable to find her fiancé, or he jilted her, or tragedy befell him.