Daughters of the American Revolution unveil marker

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — Sharon Nettles was understandably relieved when the covering on the memorial marker was removed Friday at Rosalie.

For almost six years, Nettles has waited for the day the Mississippi State Society of Daughters of the American Revolution could properly honor the people buried in the Rosalie Cemetery, and finally all the work and waiting paid off.

A marker was placed in the Rosalie Cemetery to recognize the 25 burial plots that were discovered in the area in 1999 during the Natchez Bluff Stabilization Project.

“Today a dream was fulfilled,” Nettles said. “Our mission to preserve and honor our history was fulfilled with this unveiling.”

Nettles, the chairman of development for the Rosalie Governing Board and a past state regent of the MSSDAR, worked during her stint as state regent and a few years more to have the marker approved, delivered and installed. The process, she said, was very detailed and frustrating at times.

“The marker sat on a truck in Georgia for nearly a month because of all the weather,” she said.

Friday, all the waiting ended when the marker, placed in the Patricia Walton Shelby Bicentennial Garden, was officially dedicated.

The ceremony brought closure to an 11-year-old project.

After the graves were uncovered in 1999, four of the bodies were sent for archaeological study. Through that research, it was determined the bodies were those of two adult men, one adult woman and a small child likely under the age of 2. The study also determined that all of the bodies were of western European decent.

The four bodies that were disinterred for the study were re-buried in an area close to their original burial site in 2004.

“We may never know who these early settlers were, but we do know that this site has been placed in our care,” Nettles said during the ceremony.

Elbert Hilliard, director emeritus of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said the uncovering of the site in 1999 was a shocking discovery.

“The existence of this burial place was quite surprising because of the amount of land disturbance here in the 19th and 20th century,” he said. “Without a doubt, and probably without their understanding, these four people witnessed an important part of the history of our nation.”

Nettles said the MSSDAR and the NSDAR worked for more than a decade because they felt it important to give proper closure to the people buried in the cemetery over 250 years ago.

“If it wasn’t for their courage and adventurous spirit, our nation would not be what it is today,” she said.