Walking on hallowed ground

Published 9:32 am Sunday, October 31, 2021

By Jennie Guido

I’m curious to know who else loves cemeteries like we do in Natchez. Is it a Southern thing? New Orleans treats its cemeteries like sacred sanctuaries and hosts thousands of visitors each year coming to take a look around.

Mom and I like to get these wild hairs and go for walks in the cemetery. It’s an easy place to find a path that gives you hills and some flat terrain. There is usually a good bit of shade along a walkthrough Catholic Hill, and it’s a great time to visit with family members long gone.

When I would bring friends home from college we always ended up at the cemetery. They didn’t act like that was a weird destination, but it made me wonder if maybe they were thinking I had gone mad.

Our City Cemetery is just special. The different sections are each unique in their own ways. The wrought iron gates and fences are so detailed and amazing to study. Each plot is filled with history and key players in Natchez’s past.

Other than the obvious monuments that draw people in, such as the Turning Angel and the open grave of Florence Irene Ford, I’ve found some interesting stops along the way over the years of visiting and studying the cemetery.

Along Jewish Hill, you will notice that the gravestones seem backwards. I read in Don Estes’ book that the local Jewish community decided to have their headstones placed at their feet upon burial in order to blend into the Christians buried all around them.

The burial site of Bud Scott is an interesting one for music fans and travelers who stop in Natchez on their way to New Orleans. It is believed that Bud Scott was the father of none other than Louis Armstrong. His simple headstone sits in Plot Three with a lone music note on the backside facing the road.

Another plot with some personal significance is that of John A Quitman in Plot Three. As Monmouth Historic Inn’s most famous owner, a two-time Mississippi Governor, and a hero in the Mexican War, General Quitman has local, state, and national significance for our area. A little-known fact is that he was originally buried on the grounds of Monmouth in the small cemetery that is now home to John Hankinson (the original owner of Monmouth) and his family. I think his spirit is still on the grounds on Monmouth because he tends to visit our guests that stay in his bedroom overnight.

Angels on the Bluff is only a couple of weeks away, and I’m sure tickets are hard to find. However, even if you can’t make it to their presentation this year of ghosts and their stories, take some time to visit those many acres of hallowed ground along the bluff.

Jennie Guido writes a weekly column for The Democrat.