Saturday, December 5, 2009

Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Church & Cemetery

Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Church

The Red Banks Presbyterian Church was organized in 1844 under the name of Philadelphia Church, by the Presbytery of Chickasaw, Synod of Mississippi. It was the 15th church to be organized in the North Mississippi Presbytery. In the first statistical report, that of 1857, the members numbered 44.

No mention of the minister who organized the church could be found, and neither was there a list of the charter members kept. All were destroyed when the first book of minutes of the Session was burned.

The name, Philadelphia, was given this church because some of the earliest communicants had earlier been members of Old Philadelphia Church, built on Clear Creek in North Carolina, by their ancestors who migrated there from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Members of this congregation had fond memories of their "old meeting house" (Philadelphia) in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, so it was natural that they should call their new church by that name.

Photo of The Old Presbyterian Church which is now located in Red Banks a few miles from the cemetery itself. It was moved brick by brick and rebuilt in its original construction. It is now owned and managed by the First Presbyterian Church of Holly Springs and is still utilized several times a year with a special service and picknic lunch. Photo taken by Angela L of MSSPI and history provided by Roy Hendrix, current owner of the Old Presbyterian Cemetery

A Brief history of


One of the oldest communities in Marshall County, Red Banks was settled by the cavalier type of citizenry, the most of whom came from Virginia and the Carolinas during the 1830s and 1840s when Mississippi was considered part of the western frontier.

These early settlers brought with them the culture of the older states, togehter with their love for the good life of a prosperous generation.

Many of these families were great landowners. The land of the older states being worn out with continuous cotton growing and lack of crop rotation, the more adventurous planters moved westward, to Mississippi and Tennessee where they could acquire new land and establish new homes and churches.

Although Red Banks has, throughout all the years since it was settled, remained only a small town, it has produced many outstanding men and women who have been successful in many fields of endeavor. To the business world, Red Banks has contributed 7 millionaires; Roberts, Johnsons, Rands, Norfleets and Claytons all once lived in this tiny village.

Other names associated with the early history of Red Banks are Berkley, Parks, Power, Taylor, Young, McComb, Canon; Castleberry, Mebane, Richmond, Houston, Newell, Blair Carlock, Crook, Wells, Hancock and Seabrook, Martin and Johnson, Woodson, Moore, and Walton.

Information provided by Roy Hendrix Jr.

According to Mr Roy Hendrix Jr. he is actually the grt-grt grandson of Alfred Orville Canon. There was a misprint of the sign. Angela and Tony had the pleasure or meeting Mr Roy Hendrix JR. who was very excited that our group was interested in helping with a cemetery clean-up project. Mr Hendrix stated that he had been trying for several years to get help from the State of Mississipi and the Local historical society as well as other officials who were unable to help Mr Hendrix with labor or funds to keep up this historical location. Mr Hendrix has spent thousands of dollars of his own personal money to remove dead trees and debris from the cemetery.

MSSPI has taken on the project to help Mr Hendrix clean-up and preserve this historic cemetery. Angela has documented some of the headstone photos on FindAGrave as well. Mrs Sarah Perry of Vicksburg Ms. who, also has family ancestors buried here, has been a wonderful resource in helping Angela with some of the history and contacts with this project.

According to Mr. Roy Hendrix Jr, there was once a plantation connected with this land, which was owned and donated by his grt-grt grandfather Alfred Orville Canon. -Canon, A. O., born Feb.20, 1813 - died Aug. 14, 1879.

The Old Red Brick Church once sat adjacent to the cemetery and was later moved to Red Banks. There are 3 unmarked headstones at the back of the cemetery seperate from all the others, which Mr. Hendrix suggested could possibly be the gravesites of former slaves. This has not been confirmed at this time.

Photo by Angela L Summer 2009 at the desecrated crypt of the bride from the following story. The copper coffin is unearthed and glimpses of its broken top can be seen when gazing into the open crypt. Angela and Tony of MSSPI have also recorded EVP in this area.

Buried in Wedding Dress

The following account was taken from The Commercial Appeal on May 2, 1935

Another, sadder story tells of a young lady whose wedding day was not far away when she became ill and died. (This is Laura B.A. Canon, daughter of M.H. and Eliza Canon). Shrouded in her wedding dress, she was laid to rest in the old cemetary on the Canon Plantation, before the Civil War. (The cemetary is the Philadelphia Presbyterian cemetary ). Seventy years later ghoulds uncovered her grave.

Apparently incited by a 70 year-old tale of buried antebellum treasure, ghouls yesterday descrated the graves of aristrocratic Southerners who were buried in the private cemetary before the Civil War.

Early this week, residents of the Red Banks community in the vicinity of the old Canon Plantation, reported seeing the strangers with 'diving rods", which are supposed to be sensitized to buried metal.

Yesterday , a farmer in search of a lost calf, found that half a dozen or more graves had been laid bare. Several bodies were missing.

In one of the graves, and in a copper coffin, lay the body of a young girl, supposed to have been Larua Canon, who died before the Civil War. ( Canon, Laura B. A., July 27, 1846 - Nov. 19, 1869, dau. of Moses Harvey & Eliza Houston Canon of Mecklenburg co, NC.)

She was richly dressed, her face and features perfectly preserved. A net, like a bridal veil, covered her bright red hair.

Shortly after the war, stories were circulated that valuable jewels and gold coins had been hidden in the grave yard. Many had searched fruitlessly in the vicinity, but until yesterday non had viloated the sleep of the dead.

Contributed by Mrs. Sarah Perry of Vicksburg Ms

MSSPI Cleans up the Old Philadelphia Cemetery!

On October 2, 2009 members David & Shelly Beard, Tony B and Angela L spent a beautiful day, raking leaves and debris at the Old Philadelphia Cemetery. The morning was eventful as a large doe ran thru the cemetery, unfortunately we were not quick enough on the draw to photograph it. There is still much to be done, the rain has been a hinderance but MSSPI is dedicated to finish this project as soon as the weather allows.

Photo of Angela and David of MSSPI working hard to get the place cleaned up.
To see a list of all those known to be interred at the Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Cemetery Click Here


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  2. So there is a cemetery in the woods behind my house. It is old and abandoned from the 1800's. My fiancee ex husband and I have been cleaning it up. We are trying to find out more info on it. I live in red Banks, MS. Danielle Heaston my e-mail is

    1. You ever find any information on the graveyard

  3. Lewis Mauldin (son of Rucker Mauldin and Nancy Posey) was born on 07 Oct 1793 in Pickens County, S.C. He was suppose to be buried in the cemetery in 1847. We appreciate your efforts.