Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The back roads of Mississippi

I've met my great-great-great-great grandfather.  Well, sort of.  I've been to his grave at least.  Let me fill you in a little.  My Aunt Nancy has gone absolutely nuts on, and I have to thank her.  She has put in countless hours trying to figure out exactly where we came from, and I'm so glad she did.  It is absolutely fascinating.  As you can imagine, we're all related to a lot of people from all over the place.  

Amanda Dale, 1876-1969 
great grandmother

On this particular trip we were hunting down one blood line in particular, that of Amanda Dale, my great-grandmother.  We were looking for her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.  It goes back to John Dale and the year 1790.  Our journey took us to the back roads of Mississippi, to little towns that no longer exist.

It's all weird to think about.  I've traced my family back to 1790 and visited the places that they called home...the people who are directly responsible for me being on this planet.  Now, I can't say that I felt any emotion for these people, but it was really fascinating to think about life and how random it all is.  If one thing had happened differently, I would not be here.  Think about that.  Since the dawn of time, if anything in the entire universe had been different, even 8,000 years ago, you would not be reading this right now.  That some major Back to the Future stuff.

This trip also made me think about future generations.  Perhaps 223 years from now some young chap from wherever traces his roots back to my gravestone.  He comes, takes a picture, says thanks and moves on his way.  Except, of course, instead of one picture to look at, he has my entire Facebook account and old emails and everything I've ever put on the internet.  Scary...but oh well, I'm dead.  I hope he's at least entertained.

Anyway, it's always interesting to see where you came from.  It makes you think a little deeper about your own existence and how random life can be.  It's a good lesson.  You can't control where you came from, but you can control what happens from here on out.  If it wasn't for as something as small as my grandmother moving to New Orleans for a job, I wouldn't be here.  Or even worse, I'd still be living in Georgetown, MS, shooting street signs on the weekend. 

John Dale, 1790-1867
Unfortunately his name was mispelled as "Dole".  Apparently this happened quite often.  

Beautiful house right next to the cemetery.  It's funny, a lot of these old family cemeteries are now on private land, but the no one seemed to mind our visit.  Very friendly people in Mississippi.

This is what rural Mississippi looks like.

I have a feeling you could get away with a lot here.

Crooked Creek Baptist Church...

...and cemetery. 

The grave of Sebron Culpepper Dale, my great-great-great grandfather.

Sebron C. Dale, 1821-1901
Amiable and Beloved Father Farewell
Not on this perishing stone, but in the book of life
And in the hearts of thy afflicted, friends is thy worth recorded

Elizabeth H. Dale, 1826-1902
Farwell dear Mother, Sweet thy rest
Weary with years and worn with pain
Farewell till in some happy place 
We shall behold thy face again

Remember when gas was $1.22 a gallon?

New Hebron Cemetery

This was my view for most of the day.

Georgetown, much of a ghost town as you're gonna find.  There might be about 10 people living here, all commuting to and from work in neighboring towns.  If you like peace and quiet, this is the place for you.

Believe it or not, at the turn of the century this was a happening place.  According to my great Aunt Ruth, in 1912 Georgetown was a "booming" saw mill town, "wicked and full of saloons and ladies of the night".  I'm not sure what led to the death of this town in particular, but it died a long time ago.  It seems as though rural America is disappearing.  Of course, that could just be rural Mississippi that's disappearing.  

Lemuel Chapman, my great grandfather, was a country doctor.  His practice was in the back of this bank building.

Dr. Chapman, a good looking chap if I do say so myself...

Downtown Georgetown. 

My mom and her sister Nancy can remember a beautiful train station where they would sit on bales of cotton and wait for relatives to come in.  It has since been demolished.

My great-grandparents house, where my mother and her sisters would spend many a summer.  I've heard a lot of great stories that took place in this house.

The GFD fleet...ready for action.


The school house where my grandmother graduated high school.  

The Georgetown student section.

Despite it's near complete abandonment, there are still some charming residences.  

Georgetown Cemetery...where oddly enough, we have no kin.

So that's how I spend this past Sunday.  A huge shout out to my mom and Aunt Nancy, who did the work to make this trip possible.  It was actually a lot of fun, and I learned some great stuff about where I came from.  It's always good to gain perspective.