A Walk Thru History at Odd Fellows Cemetery

by Eloise Alderman

When you enter the last gate at Odd Fellows Cemetery, you begin a walk through early Lexington history. Along this street from beginning to almost the end of the left side of the street is early history there on the old markers.

As you enter the gate, on the corner are 15 Waltons and Haskins. Capt. John S. Haskins was a Confederate veteran who lost a leg in battle. He served as sheriff in 1886. He owned the Advertiser in 1870. His son, William, helped him with the paper.

John S. Haskins served as mayor 1883-1886. Capt. E. S. Haskins was an agent for sewing machines. One of the Haskins men had the café up town that later became the Welcome Inn. A Haskins family lived on N. Vine Street that had a daughter named Belle. A neighbor on the street remembers Mrs. Haskins rolling out tamales on the old dough board she had, and Mr. Haskins would take them to the café to sell.

J. A. Walton served as alderman. Ira Walton served as Marshall.

Next to the Walton-Haskins plot is a row of five markers for Beall families. O. W. Beall and his wife Sarah M. Beall gave 30 acres of the land on the east side of town and Samual Long and his wife, Felicity Long, gave 30 acres of land on the West side of town. The 60 acres met the requirements for the new county seat town on June 7, 1833. Otha W. Beall also donated the lot on which the Baptist Church is built and served in the church as long as he lived. According to his marker, he died in 1860. Wife, Sarah, died in 1872. Otha Beall served as a sheriff of the young county.

Otha Beall’s son, Daniel W. Beall, had the Beall Hotel on the Northwest side of the square. He and his wife, Pernicie, died in the 1880’s. George S. Beall, Jr. served as sheriff 1916-1920. William Daniel Bell owned Lot 120 and passed it to his son, William Daniel Beall, Jr. Benjamin Stigler Beall was Jr.’s brother. There were 9 children in the William Daniel Beall Family.

Behind the five Beall Family markers are 5 Hooker family markers. One Hooker marker shows a child who died as an infant in 1859 in a fenced grave lot. Next to these Bealls-Hookers is the large enclosed area of 15 Bealls-Hookers. H. S. Hooker Jr. practiced law and served as mayor during that time. Dr. O. D. Hooker lived on S. Vine Street and practiced medicine in town for a while. B. S. Beall had Beall’s Drug Store. B. S Beall, Jr. served as alderman. O. M. Beall was Marshall.

Backing up a little, there by the street is an enclosed lot with 8 markers of the Sontheimer Family. Jacob Sontheimer was the first permanent Jewish resident of Lexington. He married Mary Auerback and they had 6 daughters, 5 of whom married and remained in Lexington. The sixth daughter was Jeanette who also grew up in Lexington but passed away fairly young. Rosa and Betty had the large R and B Sontheimer store on the west side of the square where Thurmond’s is today. The family lived in the old Sontheimer house, on S. Vine Street that had the witch’s hat and a cone on the top of the house – no other like it in town. It has been demolished by Delta Burial Corp and their new funeral home is on the site. Jacob Sontheimer died in 1886.

Back to the Beall-Hooker enclosed lot and just below it are two rows of the Pepper Family. A. M. Pepper began his law practice in Lexington in 1895 in partnership with E. F. Noll. He was attorney for the Board of Supervisors. About 15 markers indicate there was a large group of Peppers. Lewis Daniel Pepper died in 1941. Daniel Gilbert Pepper and Katie Gibson Pepper are the last two graves by the fence of the cemetery.

Next, below the Pepper families are 14 Stansbury markers. William F. Stansbury, Sr. owned Clifton Plantation near Howard. Son William F. Stansbury, Jr. was a dentist uptown and owned the large 2-story house that Bill Barrett and his wife live in now. As evidenced by the number of markers, he had a large family. Miss Lelia Stansbury was the last surviving Stansbury to be buried there in a grove near the fence (. 1896). Some of the Mates are there also. Carrie S. Baker (1871-1966) and husband John Baker (1871-1944). Emily S Swinney (1880-1978) and husband Alex Swinney (1877-1945).

Below Stansbury markers and dropping on down is the Bott family. Dr. Bott (d. 1955) practiced medicine here in town and lived in the brick home facing Yazoo Street which is now part of the Porter Funeral Home, his wife, Lucille Bott, died in 1951, and son, Frank Bott, died in 1944. At the end of the Bott’s row is a very old marker of Mrs. H. M. Petty. Next row below the Bott’s markers are J. H. Kellum (1889-1968) and Mae Kellum (1890-1976). Last marker on row is W. Storment Petty (d. 1974) near the fence and just above the trash pile.

Back up to Hooker-Beall enclosure and coming across toward the street are the Cross family markers, one marker turned over so could not read the name, R. A. Mitchell marker. Dr. W. F. Cross practiced medicine here in town. W. F. Cross served as mayor 1874-1882. Dr. Cross was appointed mayor again in 1891 by Gov. Stone. Dropping on down are 2 Lewis markers, 2 Shaddack markers, and 2 Wilson markers. Shaddacks were Nina Wilson’s parents. Will Wilson worked at the Holmes County Bank. Dropping on down from these are several Dysons, one of which was Capt. William L. Dyson who served in the war. By the street is Ben T. Owen who died in 1872 and wife, Mary Owen on the same marker. Dropping down to the second cedar tree are several Donelsons, five Allen markers.

There are several Sutton markers. Dr. David Sutton lived in the house where Mike Lammons mother lived in her later years on Carrollton Street. The doctor brought an 11-year old slave boy with him and raised him. The doctor practiced medicine here in town and died in 1928. Emmie Ella Sutton who lived in the Duke House on Hillside Street died in 1951. Coming on down next to the street are several Torry markers, 2 illegible markers. A marker of James Monrow Stigler said d. 1900. He was clerk of Probate Court in 1876. Three illegible markers are by the cedar tree. Three Wrights are in front of cedar tree. Another Wright is next to drive way to trash pile. Four Bower markers are next to Hooker-Beall enclosure. Also, seven Durdens have markers in that area. Coming down from Stansbury plot one more time are Ellisons an Wilsons including Baxter Wilson who served as sheriff in 1885. He owned a house on S. Vine Street. He was secretary and assistant superintendent of Lexington Cotton and Oil Company. G. A. Wilson (George Ash) operated a cotton oil mill in Lexington and installed a power plant in his mill to furnish power for its operation. The power plant also served electricity to the city from 4 p.m. to midnight. His residence was Redcliff, an old two-story house on Yazoo Street that burned.

Below the drive to trash pile are two McCains, Frances Keirn, 5 more McCain markers, one illegible marker next to fence, 4 Stiglers, 3 Dysons, Julia Dyson, Thomas near fence, two more Dysons.

Lady in Red near the fence was moved here when her body was unearthed at Egypt Plantation. Her marker has 1835-1969 on it. Coming up from Lady in Red is the marker of Emil Fritz – 1927. He served as a private in Ohio Infantry in the war. To the left of Emil’s marker is Gloria Hathcock’s marker. He is a relative of hers and her body will be laid to rest by his.

Moving on toward the street are more old markers, two Kelly markers, 3 Wilson markers (one double lying down next to street), one Grace almost illegible, two more Grace markers, new-looking Wilson marker (James B. Wilson, Rupert V. Wilson) both names on the double marker, one flat marker (couldn’t read name).

Coming up to trash pile drive are Wright, Watson, Andrews, Walton, Mary Wynn, illegible markers, seven Dyers, some illegible by trash pile street. W. L. Dyer serve as mayor of the town four different times beginning with 1882 and ending his last term 1912-1918. J. M. Dyer Sr. lived in the mansion on Carrollton Street later named Terrystone. He was on his way in his carriage to attend court in the delta when something spooked his horses causing them to run away and he was thrown from his carriage and killed. J. H. Dyer, W. L. Dyer, James Dyer, John W. Dyer, James M. Dyer are all listed lawyers in Garden Club book. Going back toward Lady in Red – one grave with only the undertaker marker (couldn’t read), two illegible markers, two Willougby graves – John E. – Ella, Thomas Smith d. 1996, H. L. Malone d. 1995, Nadine Malone d. 2001, Hiram Malone, Sr. d. 1968, Vallie M. Smith d. 1987, Hiram Smith d. 1981, Paul Hale d. 2008, one old grave I could not read name.

Coming up toward Lady in Red – Keirns and their mates, old markers. Old Gwins – John Edgar Gwin d. 1898. John Edgar built the house in 1875 that he left to Mrs. Margaret Noel in his will. Later it became Gov. Noel’s home. There are four Hosea markers. The first Hosea marker in the tow was place at the grave of former Lexington Mayor Oscar F. Hosea 1896. His great-great grandson found out his great-great-grandfather did not have a headstone, so he had this headstone put there on June 19, 101 years after his death. He also placed a Confederate Iron Cross of Honor there on the grave site.

Back over to street side – three Haskins, one double large marker for Erastus and Lou Haskins, illegible markers. Eight Gwin markers – some double, one Townes, another very old marker that is a Gwin, one marker toppled over, seven other old markers in Gwin plot. Kendrick marker next to street (and his wife). Len Henrick markers include Adam Henrich from the drugstore. Will Lake Meek (Sonny) whose mother was a Henrich, last grave to street, d. 1981. Going toward fence at the end is double marker – Walter Keirn – Martha Nelson. Another double nelson marker Claude Leake Jones – Ruby Jones d. 1978 (“She Found Peace at Last” on marker). Sandra Lopez Jones d. 1975 (“Tell my children I love them” on her marker). Two Keirns – David E. – Ethel Keirn Nichols.

In an article on Richland Cemetery entitled “Gone but not forgotten,” Mrs. Callie Skinner told how this statement on headstones used to be very popular. When a loving family member selected this statement to go on the headstone, maybe he/she did continue to remember in various ways the love one being honored but – did future generations continue to look after the grave site? So often they moved away or just were busy and did not.

Headstones were turned over or broken in pieces and discolored with time. Sad to say, vandalism at times took a toll on the headstones.

The old historical part of Odd Fellows Cemetery has suffered these ill effects. Parts of tall markers have been knocked off and some markers have been turned over as a result of vandalism. Many of the old markers are illegible probably from age and the elements of time. They need cleaning badly.

Have we forgotten so soon the people who played a prominent part in the early history of our town? It appears that we have.