Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strange Voices at Sardis Cemetery

Strange Voices at Sardis Cemetery
Holly Springs Ms.
Article and Photos by Angela L MSSPI

Marker inscribed TJC

b. Apr 1, 1811
d. Nov 17, 1862

In the fall of 2008, two of my brothers were deer hunting in North Central Mississippi a few miles east of Holly Springs, on what is a combination of Holly Springs National Forest and private owned lease land.

They had lost a deer and since it was getting close to dark, they set out on foot to look for it. One of my brothers tripped over a partially buried headstone and fell smack into the middle of a small overgrown cemetery. They of course had to tell me about it, knowing how much I love exploring historic, lost cemeteries.

So, my brother Daniel took Tony and I on about a half mile hiking trip, up some old 4wheeler trails, off a dirt road, that we had driven for at least a mile off the highway. I could not find it again without his guidance. Anyway, at the time we went, after the hunting season ended and before it was quite warm enough for snake activity, we set off into the woods to find it. There were numerous huge trees that had been layed down by recent tornado and straight line wind damage. After climbing through heavy brush and covered foot trails, we located the cemetery.

Daniel and Tony B. Survey the tree damage.
Photo by Angela L MSSPI

My brother, who is also a curious history lover, had inquired with the elderly African American woman who owned the property and was allowing them to hunt there, about the history of the cemetery.
This is his account to me.
From what he had learned from the woman, who's name is being kept confidential for privacy reasons, the story of the cemetery is that, at one time, the land was owned by her family. There was a small cabin to the north of the cemetery where her family lived, which no longer stands, except for a lonely chimney, out in the woods. They had a large apple orchard and set up a fruit stand near a main road every year to sell apples. Their small place was known simply as The Apple Orchard. There was also a small wood framed African American church that sat at the top of the hill near their home. It had long ago burned down and the only thing left of it now is an old well hole. The name of the original church was not remebered by the lady, however, I was informed by Mrs. Deb Haynes of the following information regarding the cemetery.

Your brothers stumbled upon the “Sardis Cemetery”. I checked the cemetery book for Sarah Ann Tomlinson, wife of HM, and the dates match from your picture to the cemetery book ( photo of stone at bottom of page) . It is located R 1 W, T 3 S, Section 30. There are 12 names in Bobby Mitchell's book, so there were at least 12 readable headstones located there back in the 1970s and 1980s.   submitted by deb haines

Mr Bobby Mitchell is a well known local historian and member of the Marshall Co. Genealogy Society in Holly Springs Ms. and he has documented and published many of the cemeteries listings located in Marshall County. His books can be found in the History Room at the Marshall Co.Public Library in Holly Springs Ms.
Photo by Angela L MSSPI

What is known, is that there are several children buried in the cemetery, who died in the yellow fever epidemics in the 1870's. The photo above is a row of small children who died during the times of the fever epedemic. This is also the location where we recorded  2 EVP. (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
EVP is an abbreviation for Electronic Voice Phenomena. It is basically a disembodied voice or sound of unknown origin captured on either tape or digital audio recorders that is normally not heard by the human ear at the time of recording .  EVPs are generally heard on playback.  There is no solid evidence that the sounds you here on playback are ghost or spirits . There is also no solid evidence that they arn't.

A Note About EVP's:

Though every effort is made to make our audio clips loud and clearly audible, the typical EVP is extremely low in volume and is often hard to hear without being in a QUIET room, using good headphones. If you take the time to listen to them in this type of environment, you will hear them! Enjoy.
 In the first EVP you will hear a voice that sounds like an African American girl.

you can also hear the clip by clicking here on the Archive Page.

In the second clip, which happened just a few seconds after Clip one, I felt a weird tingling sensation on my right arm. My voice trailed off as I searched to see if anything was on me or touching me which there wasnt anything there, Then you will hear what sounds like a child giggle.

you can also hear the clip by clicking here on the Archives Page:

Photo by Angela L MSSPI

We uncovered several readable stones and some that had no markings at all. The gravesites being marked by large heavy field stones.

Headstone of Sarah Ann Thomlinson -Photo by Angela L MSSPI

My brother stated that he avoided walking near this area while hunting because he always got the feeling he was being watched and on several occasions thought he had heard laughing and things moving in the shadows.

We have not been able to go back to investigate this cemetery further due to the State doing tree clearing work and the arrival of snake season. However, I would like to go back to try and do more research into this beautiful, lost cemetery. as of the time of this trip we counted approxamately 15 grave markers and I'm sure there were more that we did not discover due to the heavy brush and downed trees. However, this was a remarkable place and I appreciate Daniel taking the time to show it to us.

Recently I was told that the State had widened the trail that leads to the cemetery but 4 wheelers are no longer allowed on the trails. I was also told that many of the downed trees have been cleared and that the cemetery boundaries have been taped off. I hope to visit it again someday, I just haven't decided which to risk, an encounter with the summer snakes and numerous wild animals reported in the area or the deer and wild boar hunters. Neither season sounds very appealing.

Bobby Mitchell Marshall Co Genealogy Society
Deb Haines
Unnamed property owner
Marshall Co Public Library History Room
Daniel and Jimmie Dalton- Local Game Hunters