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If you’ve been following along, and I hope you have, you’ll know this stop was supposed to be one of my first stops before coming to Tupelo but ended up being the last stop out of Tupelo on my way home, and my lastMS stop of my trip. The original itinerary was to remain until Thursday, then slowly wind back home with more stops along the way. But this was Tuesday and I was ill, desperately needing to get home. Despite a 100+ fever, Howard was the whole reason I started down the Buchanans 25 years ago and his grandson, my new family, the reason for this visit. The least I could do is bite my lip and go pay my respects.
Driving up I-22 to Memphis, navigating to Potts Camp was simple. They have an exit, simply directed into the center of town where I saw in the distance the water tower, actually two, but this older one is what caught my eye. The angle is better taken getting out of your car, or like most of my photos with exception of the cemeteries, taken while still sitting in my car. Yes: car photography! Many were taken while driving down the highway, some speeds of 80mph (75 was limit and yes I was safe!)
Now, with no time to waste, I turned off onto this highway (don’t think interstate) to Bethlehem Methodist church cemetery. The two lanes were wide, farms and homes scattered each side as it wound me about 10 miles west (I think). I spied an old pull-in, what appeared at 50mph, to be an old gas station and store. “I’ll stop on my return back to the interstate” I muttered to the air, as my determination to find Howard was raging, just like my fever. And I was miserable.
As you might hear in my voice, I was impatient, wanting nothing more than to get back to my car and to sit. Felling so ill, I didn’t have the strength to barely even walk this small cemetery to find Howard-even as important as he is to me. I knew what his and Nancy’s headstones look like so I was looking for a flat marker, about the size of a walking stone. This eliminated the stand up markers clearly visible. Even with that elimination, I wasn’t able to find him.
Here’s the FindAGrave memorial page for Howard, with a bio I wrote as the current manager. Ironically there’s two categorically incorrect things on this stone. Howard was born in 1861, according to the 1870 census. This is the closest thing to a birth certificate, other than a family Bible entry, that someone from these eras have today to document their birth, age. The closer to the actual event and with further documents confirming the original information, pretty much cements the dates as facts. Other times, like with Nancy, it takes more research to find a date that peeks through as the most probable or to disprove other dates based on other information available, such as a siblings birth at the same time and they not being twins.
Additionally, Howard did not die until 26Sep, according to his death certificate. How this happened, I’m not sure but it’s a common occurrence. Nancy’s headstone is equally incorrect. She died in March, but it says February. Her date of birth (DOB) is wrong but still undetermined due to lack of and varying documentation. You can read her memorial/biography here.
Be sure to follow along the TRIP post series. As of this writing, there are many more in process, so be sure to keep up to date! If you subscribe, emails are sent when a new post is posted.
And, in case you started with this post, there are more in this trip series. (And more still to come). Here they are so far.
TRIP overview, a first must read.
Weatherbee Cemetery, Franklin County, AR
Potts Camp & Bethlehem Church Cemetery, Outside Potts Camp, MS
Trees of the cemetery: a combination of sites