By Jennie Guido
I’m curious about who else loves cemeteries like us in Natchez. Is it a southern thing? New Orleans treats its cemeteries like sacred shrines and welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
Mom and I love to collect those wild hairs and walk around the graveyard. It’s an easy place to find a path that gives you hills and flat terrain. There is usually some shade along a walk through the Catholic Hill, and this is a great time to visit long-missing family members.
When I brought home friends from college, we would always meet at the cemetery. They didn’t act like it was a weird destination, but I wondered if they maybe thought I had gone mad.
Our municipal cemetery is simply special. The different sections are each unique in their own way. The wrought iron gates and fences are so detailed and amazing to study. Each plot is filled with history and key players from Natchez’s past.
Besides the obvious monuments that draw people in, such as the Turning Angel and the Open Tomb of Florence Irene Ford, I have found interesting stops along the way over the years of visiting and studying the cemetery.
Along the Jewish hill you will notice that the tombstones appear to be upside down. I read in Don Estes’ book that the local Jewish community decided to have their tombstones placed at their feet during the burial in order to blend in with the Christians buried all around them.
Bud Scott’s burial site is interesting for music fans and travelers who stop in Natchez on their way to New Orleans. Bud Scott is believed to be the father of none other than Louis Armstrong. His simple gravestone is in plot three with a single musical note on the back facing the road.
Another plot with some personal significance is that of John A Quitman in Plot Three. As the most famous owner of Monmouth Historic Inn, two-time Governor of Mississippi, and Mexican War Hero, General Quitman is of local, state and national significance to our region. A little known fact is that he was originally buried on the grounds of Monmouth in the small cemetery which is now home to John Hankinson (the original owner of Monmouth) and his family. I think his mind is still on Monmouth’s grounds as he tends to visit our overnight guests in his room.
Angels on the Bluff is only a few weeks away and I’m sure tickets are hard to find. However, even if you may not be able to attend their presentation this year of ghosts and their stories, take some time to visit these many acres of sacred land along the cliff face.
Jennie Guido writes a weekly column for The Democrat.