Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hillcrest Cemetery Holly Springs Mississippi

Hillcrest Cemetery came into use in the 1830's, following the Chickasaw Secession. Most of the oldest and earliest headstones have long ago crumbled and been carted away. But there are a few remaining stones that mark this early era. Leaving only a small clue as to the original age of the cemetery.
While many prominent plantation families had their own family plots set aside on their own land, there were many prominent citizens, as well as, those whos' wealth did not afford them a private family burial grounds.

Some of the oldest markers left standing at the Hill Crest are :
( Click highlighted links to see Find A Grave Memorials, Photos & Headstones.)

Martha E Blake wife of M Blake who died Sept 12, 1839

Originally, only a few small acres were set aside for the Hill Crest Cemetery, in a tree shaded area at the crest of the hill, but as more and more settlers came into the area, the cemetery was required more room. As the cemetery began to expand, the stables and lot of the Sims Stagecoach Stand was taken in as eventually was the baseball field. The cemetery now encompasses approximately 25 acres.

Will Coyle was the first person to be interred in the new section of the cemetery, the area which was formerly a baseball field, which became part of the cemetery in 1905. Ironically, Will Coyle was killed with a baseball bat.

Hill Crest Cemetery has long been known as Little Arlington to the locals. All but two of the twelve Generals from Holly Springs, who marched away to war in 1861, are laid to rest here.

Brigadier General Absolom M West

Adj-General Thomas A Falconer

Asst. Adj-Genera Harvey W Walker

One of Two Confederate Memorials

Micajah Autry one of the martyrs of the Alamo has a memorial shaft here. He perished during the days between Feb 23, and March 6, 1836 when 150 revolutionist were killed at the Alamo Mission in the Texas War of Independence.

Samuel A Cole of the Marshall Guards fell at Matamoros Mexico in October 1846 during the Mexican War is also at rest here.

John Lester, one of eleven men who were the first to be taken prisioner in World War I is honored here with a memorial. He had been taken prisioner with 10 others in the Toul section of France on November 3 1917.Lieut.

Colonel James L Autry was in command at Vicksburg, when a federal fleet under the command of Admiral Farragut steamed up the Mississippi River from New Orleans in 1862. Farragut demanded the surrender of Vicksburg. Col Autry's reply to this demand:

 " Mississippians do not know how how to surrender, nor do they care to learn."

The Federals opened fire on the city, filled with women and children. This bombardment lasted for several day, but caused little damage. Col Autry was killed in battle on Dec 31 1862 and his body was returned to his home in Holly Springs
There are also numerous politicians, judges, statesmen and senators buried here including Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American Senator of Mississippi, who was liked and respected in the community.

Yellow Fever struck Holly Springs in the 1870's . Six of the twelve nuns of the Sisters of Charity are laid to rest side by side at Hill Crest, they had nursed and cared for the victims of the fever and then became victims themselves. All meeting their fate within a weeks time of each other. Father AnacletusOberti who had taken charge of the Court House hospital also became a victim of the fever and is buried near the sisters. The citizens of Holly Springs out of appreciation of the service so graciously given them by the Sisters and Father Obererti collected funds and erected a monument in their memory the year after the fever epidemic.
When yellow fever first came to Holly Springs in 1870, all who were able fled the town to avoid contamination. Out of a population of 3500, only 1500 were left in the town and 1440 of them contracted the disease.

Mayor Goodrich was the first person to die of the epidemic. He died on August 31st, 1878. You may visit the The Yellow Fever Martyrs Church and Museum (circa 1841) East College Ave., Holly Springs, MS 38635, 662-252-3669, Museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of seven Catholic martyrs who gave their lives during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1840. Open by appointment only.

Another popular set of headstones at Hillcrest is that of Mammy, the 94 year old nanny of the prominent Coxe Family. She is buried in the family plot in a place of honor with the family she so lovingly cared for. Her tombstone inscription reads " Mammy, Faithful Unto Death"
The small headstone in the photo on the left, that is turned to face sideways, is Mammy's Headstone.

Hillcrest Cemetery is the setting for storytelling as local townspeople, dressed in costumes of the day, re-enacting roles of Holly Springs' most illustrious characters at the Annual Holly Springs Pilgrimage, held every year in April. You can take a walking tour of the cemetery and here stories related to those interred here.

To learn more about the history and lives of those buried at the Hillcrest Cemetery you can also visit the Marshall County Historical Museum located on Van Dorn Ave, you can reach it by dialing 662-252-3669.

See More Photos

Find A Grave.com
It Happened Here True Stories of Holly Springs by Olga Reed Pruitt 1950 South Reporter Printing Co
Images Of America Holly Springs by Alice Long & Mark L Ridge 1998
Childhood In Holly Springs A Memoir by Chesley Thorne Smith 1996
Marshall County Historical Museum

Hillcrest Cemetery
Elder Street
Holly Springs, MS 38635


  1. What a amazing amount of history in one place!What a treat to be able to share a visit with you!Great background stories too!Thank you!

  2. Visited there yesterday on our way home from visiting in Memphis. Lovely cemetery, well maintained. We will have to go back when the trees are in bloom. Thank you for this site.

  3. Just took the Holly Springs Spring Tour of the Cemetery. Great Job by all of the participants! We were visiting the area from Minnesota. Great information here . . . some of which was covered by the re-enactors today.

    Henry & Sheri Djerlev

  4. I live in holly springs and pass by that cemetery everyday I'm 17 I've always knew holly springs was a historical district but never knew anything about the cemetery's that are there

  5. Glad to find your blog. BTW, the Yellow Fever Epidemic hit Holly Springs in 1878 not 1870.

  6. Glad to find your blog. BTW, the Yellow Fever Epidemic hit Holly Springs in 1878 not 1870.