Photos taken 9-12 July 2002 at the McAlister Cemetery, Ripley, MS, by Wade Starr
Since my grandmother, Mary Magdaline McAlister, my mother and her siblings all died prior to the time I became interested in family history, I have very little first or second hand information about my ancestors. Most of the personal information I have is on my aunts, uncles and their descendants. Therefore, in June and early July of 1996 when my wife and I went to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a meeting of the Gann Historical Society (one of my wife's ancestors was a Gann) we decided to visit Tippah County, Mississippi. Samuel Mitchell McAlister, Sr. and his wife Nancy McFall McAlister lived there and are buried in the McAlister Cemetery, as are their children and some of their grandchildren. The cemetery was originally on the McAlister Plantation outside the town of Ripley.
Armed only with a road map and a location of the McAlister Cemetery from The Cemeteries of Tippah County, Mississippi, we journeyed forth to find the cemetery. According to the description in the book, it was "seven miles east of Ripley, one-half mile north of Highway 4". That sounded real easy to locate. We drove seven miles east from Ripley on Highway 4 and found a small cemetery behind a small wooden church, painted white, and called Mount Olive Baptist Church. I thought, "Well, this was easy". Then on looking around the cemetery, because there were no McAlister graves, I figured out that this was not the correct cemetery. Driving further up and back down Highway 4, looking for a road, a sign, or other indication of another cemetery, I decided to stop at one of the houses to ask for more specific directions. First house, I knocked on the front door, and there was no response or other sign of life, although there was an auto parked nearby. At two more houses, I got the same result. Either nobody was home, or the Mississippi people were not that friendly.
I started down Highway 4 again, and had decided to forget about trying to find the cemetery, when my wife told me to stop and ask the young couple who were unloading some furniture from a pickup in front of their house. I stopped. By the time I approached, the woman was already inside the screen door. I asked the man if he knew where the McAlister cemetery was located. He looked puzzled at first, and his wife told him something I did not quite understand. Then, he said "Follow Me", and I followed him a short way down his driveway. He pointed to a gravel drive alongside their house, and said "Go that way, and it is right past the grassy section."
Thanking him, we drove on the way he had pointed. Sure enough, after about a half mile the gravel drive stopped, and we continued over a grassy area. After about a quarter mile further, we found what we were looking for. By that time, it was about two p.m., and hot and humid. Armed with our cameras, a pen and a legal pad, I started taking pictures and reading headstones. My wife copied all the information on the legal pad. After two hours, two rolls of film, and several pages of notes, my wife and I found that we and our clothes were soaked with perspiration.
We walked back to our car, drank a cold beer in the shade, and then resumed our trip home. We had obtained an up-to-date summary of the headstones still standing, and photos of the McAlister cemetery. These would go with the photos of the old log house, and the Plantation home that we already had.
According to information from various McAlister "cousins", the Plantation home was burned during Sherman's march through the Georgia which, evidently started before he actually reached Georgia. The only thing not burned was the old slave quarters (old log house mentioned above), built by slaves of Samuel Mitchell McAlister, Sr. before the "War of Aggression" by the "Yankees". After the war and their home had been burned, it was occupied by the McAlisters.
Carvings on headstones of this era are of interest. In the early 1800s, many of the ordinary people could not read, so designs and symbols on the headstones were essential. They were a reminder to the living that life was short and death was inevitable. Children learned to read from primers using similar designs found on early monuments. There were many commonly found symbols, two were clasped hands or a hand shake which represent a farewell to earthly existence, and a hand with the forefinger pointing downward meant "I am buried here". A flying bird, probably meant to be a dove, found on a headstone denotes the flight of the soul. Doves could also be used to express innocence or purity, and probably did so on Nathaniel McAlister's headstone, because he was only three and one-half at the time of his death.
My wife and I both felt that it was a most rewarding afternoon. In addition to the experience of examining and photographing the headstones, we obtained a more accurate description of the location of the cemetery, and information about individuals not contained in the Tippah County Cemetery Book. See below.
McAlister Cemetery Notes
From Ripley, Miss. Go 6.6 miles east on Highway 4 from the junction of Highway 4 and Highway 15, approximately .2 mile past Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Turn north on a dirt gravel drive between houses, where the mailbox reads 891 A-B, and go .8 mile a part of which is across a grassy area. The McAlister Cemetery is on the left enclosed by a fence.
Barnes, Charles A., 5/7/1907, 11/9/1994 - S Sgt U S Army, World War II
Barnes, Aliene, 7/28/1923
Carmichiel, G S., 3/17/1884, 8/17/1905 - Age 21 ys, 5 mo - An obedient son. The noblest monument to the memory
Carmichiel, Authur Sylvester, 5/24/1879, 7/18/1959 - He is at rest.
Carmichiel, Edithy A wife of Rev.L.F. Carmichiel, 12/17/1852, 8/27/1938 - She was a kind and affectionate wife, a fond mother and a friend to all.
Carmichiel, Fred Dennis, 5/2/1919, 8/7/1921 - Not lost but gone before
Carmichiel, Rev L.F., 3/17/1854, 3/1/1929
Carmichiel, Marvin W., 10/9/1906, 3/8/1928
Carmichiel, R.J. dau of E.L. & E.V., 12/22/1915, 12/22/1915
Cartwright, Children of J.M. & Ellen Cartwright infant son, Born & Died 1875, infant dau, Born & Died 1877
Cartwright, Ellen, wife of J. M. Cartwright, born 2/22/1840, died 10/23/1916 - At Rest
Cartwright, Mary V. Dau of J.M. & Ellen Cartwright, Wife of R.T. Calvery, born 6/24/1874, died 2/8/1916
Cartwright, Maudie E. Dau of J.M. & Ellen Cartwright, born 10/22/1882, died 11/28/1901
Cartwright, Nannie Dau of J.M. & Ellen Cartwright, Born 10/18/1880, Died 11/201881
Cartwright, Sara Ann Dau of H. & M.J. Cartwright, Died 1875
Holliday, Almis Wesley Son of J.W. & Mary Ann Holliday, born 5/15/1877, died 9/20/1879 - Age 2 yrs, 4 mo, 5 days
Holliday, Yancey, Effie Wife of Jim Holliday, 1/1/1885, 3/27/1940 - She died as she lived trusting God
Holliday, George Ashford, 11/24/1878, 12/26/1944 - His memory is blessed.
Holliday, James Jr son of Holly & James Vardaman Holliday, 12/16/1932, 1/13/1933 - Our darling baby
Holliday, Jim N., 10/15/1875, 2/25/1963 - Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.
Holliday, John Franklin son of J.W. & Mary Ann Holliday, born 8/7/1872, died 9/21/1876 - Age 4 yrs 1 mo 14 da
Holliday, J.W.P., born 7/30/1830, died 12/9/1902 - Too good for earth God called him home. One mortal less on earth. Heaven has one angel more.
Holliday, Lenona Ann, 2/18/1874, 5/19/1964 - With Christ in heaven
Holliday, Leroy Son of B.W. & Zula Holliday, 6/17/1912, 8/8/1913 - Buried on earth to bloom in heaven.
Holliday, Marie Dau of Jim & Effie Holliday, 5/16/1916, 6/1/1916
Holliday, Mary Ann wife of J.W.P. Holliday, born 4/20/1840, died 11/27/1910 - Thy memory shall ever be a guiding star to heaven.
Holliday, Samuel Luter, 8/22/1870, 2/8/1945 - His memory is blessed
Holliday, In memory of S.P. Wife of J.N. Holliday, 2/29/1880, 4/14/1901
McAlister, Nancy M. Dau of S.M. & Nancy McAlister, born 12/2/1841, died 1/9/1916 - Age 74 ys, 1 mo 7 das - Dear sister, farewell til we meet again
McAlister, Nancy McFall wife of S.M. Alister, born Anderson Co., S.C. 1/14/1814, died 11/19/1891 - Age 27ys (77), 9 mos (5), 23 ds (5)
McAlister, Nathaniel M. Son of S.M. & Nancy McAlister, born 5/23/1856, died 12/20/1859
McAlister, Phebe Dau of S.M. & Nancy, born 5/14/1848, died 7/1/1870 - Age 22 yrs 1 mo 18 das
McAlister, S.M., born in Anderson Co. S.C. 12/7/1804, died 1/18/1892 - Age 87 ys 7 mo 11 das
McAlister, Sarah Emily, Born 10/3/1846, Died 1/15/1919 - She died as she lived, a Christian
McAlister, William J., Born 12/2/1849, Died 7/28/1918 - Thou art gone from a world of care. The bliss of heaven to share.
Mitchell, Alice E, 3/9/1851, 8/21/1905. In life beloved, in death lamented.
Mitchell, Anna E. dau of W.G. & A.E. Mitchell, 2/17/1884, 9/29/1901 - Farewell, Dear Anna. Weep not for me my parents dear I am not dead but sleeping here, was not yours but Christ's alone. He loved me best and took me home.
Mitchell, William G., 6/24/1846, 2/27/1927.In life beloved, in death lamented.
Smith, Johnie S., 1/29/1868, 5/30/1908
Smith, Lula M., 4/9/1875, 1/8/1933 - A tender mother and a faithful friend.
Smith, Will H., 3/13/1870, 5/17/1903 - Gone but not forgotten