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I was driving north from Gulfport, headed for Kosciusko, MS, for the annual Homecoming at the Marvin Chapel Methodist Church. It is an annual event when families with ancestral ties to the church return to visit and fellowship with one another. It had been a year since my last trip to the homeland of my Fullilove ancestors, that trip occurring exactly 8 days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I was looking forward to the homecoming and the visit with my Aunt Mary. She is the last member of my immediate family still living in the Kosciuscko area. As I was reviewing maps the night before my departure I noticed that a side trip to look for a cemetery containing unknown (to me) Fulliloves was a possibility. There is a burial ground known only as the Fullilove Cemetery in the rural part of Humphreys County. Could it be the place where some of my missing Fulliloves were buried? There was a distinct possibility some of the descendants of Blanton Hill Fullilove, my great grandfather’s brother, had ended up in rural Humphries County. After all, several are buried in Indianola, Belzoni, and Drew, MS, why not rural Humphries County? There was no record of the burials in this Fullilove Cemetery, only the GPS coordinates and aerial photos denote its existence. I had decided to set a course to find out what was out there and document it for myself. I printed out a map from mapquest.com giving me precise directions to the location. It was at the end of “Full Love” road next to “Fullilove Lake.” I headed out of Jackson on I-55 north and turned west on highway 12 at Durant, MS. The trip would take a few extra hours, I thought, leaving me plenty of time to be back at my Aunt’s home in Kosciusko by around 3 or 4 o’clock. Just a little side trip . . . a little adventure into the Mississippi delta. I was very energized, anticipating what I might find. Would there be graves that would answer lingering questions? Would it be a completely abandoned place with markers that were impossible to read? Would it be a perfected cemetery with beautiful monuments, embossed with perfect images and biographies of those interred there . . .no, Jim, that is ridiculous . . .get your mind back on your driving! My trek took me through Lexington and Tchula. As I continued driving west, the hilly countryside with its kudzu-covered gulches gave way to flat farmland, mostly cotton fields with crops in varying stages of development. I knew that I was fast approaching the delta region of Mississippi. My turn off would be coming up at any moment. I turned to get my computer-generated maps. I didn’t want to get lost out here. . . . uh, oh! Where are my maps?!! I went off and left them at home !!! To be continued… My Trip to Belzoni, part II I couldn’t believe I had left the maps at home. I was sure I had placed them in my little traveling bag…. oh, well, on to plan B. I was planning to go on into the town of Belzoni after finding the Fullilove cemetery, but now I had to go ahead and reverse my plans. I
would go to Belzoni first and then find the cemetery later on my way back to Kosciusko. As I approached Belzoni I found myself on a high-rise bridge, which looks down over the town from the south. The entire town can be seen from this vantage point. Next, I noticed the signs denoting Belzoni as the “Catfish Capital of the World” and “Visit the Catfish Museum”. Somehow this all seemed familiar. I had heard this somewhere before. I turn north on Highway 49 and then right at the arrow reading “Downtown Belzoni”. That’s when I saw the first one. It was a catfish statue about 6 ft. tall painted to look like a power company worker. It was placed in front of the Power Company office. Oh, what a cute idea, I thought. Then I saw the next one, in front of the Fire Station. This one was painted like a Dalmatian in a fireman’s uniform, holding a little fire hose. Then as I continued toward the main street downtown, I realized that these brightly colored catfish were everywhere, in front of businesses, public buildings, and occasionally in front of homes. I knew that it was true; I was in the catfish capital. Now I had a new concern, would I use up all of my film snapping pictures of these artistic catfish. Would I have any left for the cemetery later? I got directions to the Humphrey’s County library, which was just two blocks down and within a minute I was getting a pic of the “bookworm” catfish and entering the library. The librarians were as helpful as they could be and I soon had a new map in hand, courtesy of mapquest.com. The head librarian’s husband was related somehow to some Fulliloves and she was familiar with some of the ones from Indianola, but she did not know anything about my Fullilove cemetery or where it was located. The librarians seemed a little amused at this middle-aged man trying to find a cemetery in the boon docks of Belzoni. I had a second cemetery to find, the Belzoni City Cemetery. I had one Fullilove couple that was interred there and I wanted to get photos of the grave. For the next two hours, I walked that cemetery in the Scorching. . . August. . . Mississippi. . . Delta . . . sun, but no Fullilove grave. I did find the family plot of Pinkney Barton McWhorter. He was the brother of my great grandmother, Sorinthia McWhorter Fullilove. I felt a bit frustrated as I returned to the library to try and get better info on the location of the grave. The library in Belzoni has no cemetery book, but there was a folder with a transcription of the Belzoni Cemetery. I found a map and a supposed location for the grave. Back to the cemetery I went and after another half hour of searching I finally was standing over the grave of Ethel L. Fullilove (1907-1965). She was the wife of Henry Clyde Fullilove who was a grandson of Blanton Hill And Emily Jane Pee Fullilove. Apparently Henry’s grave is unmarked. His obituary says that he is buried there, but there is no headstone for him. The reward for all of that searching seemed a little scant, but I still had the other search to look forward to. To be continued My Trip to Belzoni, part III (the final chapter)
As I headed out of town, I tried to resist the Catfish statues, but ended up stopping at many of them to get a picture. I also wanted to be sure and go by the “Catfish Museum”. It would be a shame to be in Belzoni, Mississippi, and not stop to see its most prestigious attraction. I found the museum and spent a few minutes there. The indoor part of the museum was closed, but I was able to look at a few of the outdoor displays. Frankly, the hatching and catching methods used on the catfish farms wasn’t very exciting for me, but finding the Fullilove Cemetery was, so I set out again, this time heading east, map in hand. On the map it seemed very clear. The roads were marked, the mileage to each turn plainly indicated. I was to head down Spruill Rd. until it dead-ended and then turn right. Spruill Road is a paved farm road, barely wide enough for two-way traffic. It is one of those roads where one is tempted to speed because you never see another vehicle for miles. I continued down this road until it changed from paved to a dirt road. It never dead-ended on anything, but finally took me straight to a farmhouse where it intersected another road, not the one listed on my map. I was beginning to doubt my map. The lay of the land was not matching up with the printout of the computer. Men don’t like asking for directions, but I knew that I didn’t have time to waste, so I went straight up to the door of this farmhouse. Surely these folks would have some idea where the Fullilove Cemetery was. Two young men in their mid-teens answered the door. I explained what I was looking for and, Tom, the younger of the two, told me he would be right back. “He’s going to ask Daddy,” his brother, Joey, volunteered. Tom grabbed up a little motorcycle that was lying next to the house and zoomed off toward a large pole barn that was a few hundred yards away. We waited a few minutes And Tom was back with directions from his Dad. “I can tell you how to get there or you can just follow me” “I think I will follow you, if you don’t mind.” So I was off again, following Tom in a dust cloud back up the road from whence I had come. We went back a few miles to where the road was paved and stopped at an intersection with another dirt road. “Daddy says it is right down there past the old fish processing plant. You will see a church on the right and then the fish plant is a little further on the left.” “Great, Thank you very much.” Then Tom said, “Did you see that red pick-up truck back there? That was Mr. Fullilove sitting in the truck.” “Really?!, Mr. Fullilove?” Then Tom responded almost defensively, “I know it was Mr. Fullilove! I swear to God!”
“Okay, Tom, if I get lost I’ll go back and find Mr. Fullilove and ask him where to go.” At this Tom sped off and I turned down the road he had indicated. It had a different name than that on my map. I really wanted to turn around right then and check with Mr. Fullilove, but it was getting later, and I wanted to find that cemetery. I followed the directions, passed a little dirt road on my right, and continued past the church and the fish factory, my eyes peeled, looking for any indication of a cemetery. The road was supposed to dead-end after a few miles, but this road went on and on straight through cotton fields and clumps of trees. After a number of miles, I knew this was beginning to look fruitless. Finally I was confronted with a large farm truck hauling bails of cotton. We would not be able to pass each other on the narrow dirt road. I pulled up, stopped, and waived at the driver. He opened his door and leaned out, “Can I help you?” “I’ve been looking for a cemetery that is supposed to be out here somewhere.” “Oh, yeah, I think you have to go back a few miles to where there’s the old fish plant. Then there’s this old church. I think there’s supposed to be a cemetery down in the woods across from the church.” “Thanks, I think I saw that on the way out here, I’ll go back and see if I can find it.” Filled with a fresh dose of hope I headed back again. I reached the church and surveyed the woods across the road. Yep, there could be a Cemetery down in there. I headed in…. …. twenty minutes later, I headed out, sure there was not a cemetery anywhere in those woods. Now frustration was beginning to mount. I pondered my next move. There was a nice, modern looking home next door to the old church. A car was in the drive and the garage doors were wide open, I thought I could hear a radio somewhere. All indications were that someone was home. I rang the doorbell, I rang again. I listened intently, rang again. No one was home, or someone to too scared to answer the door to a complete stranger, late in the afternoon on a Saturday. Frustration was reaching an apex. It was time to go and find Mr. Fullilove in his red pick up truck. Over an hour had passed since Tom left me at the intersection. I wondered why he acted so strangely when he had mentioned Mr. Fullilove. I was just hoping the truck was still parked over there and Mr. Fullilove would be able to help me out. I turned off the road next to a cornfield where the red pick up truck was still parked in the shade beneath a large stand of trees. It was very shady there and as I approached the truck I could barely see if anyone was in it. I’m sure they were wondering whom this was walking up on them. As I drew near I called out, “Mr. Fullilove?” “Yes, I am, “ he answered. I came up to the driver’s door and there was Mr. Fullilove, a light-skinned black man, with cherub-like features. We made our introductions and had a friendly conversation. . His name was Herbert Fullilove, aged 76. He had heard all about Hurricane Katrina we talked about that a little. Herbert seemed quite amused at my dilemma and asked again,
“Why’d you wanna go see that cemetery?” I explained that I had some missing ancestors and I thought they might be buried down there. And I wanted to get some photos of the graves. He told me that, yes, there was a cemetery, there were headstones there, and they were readable. He also told me exactly where it was, but continued to seem a little amused by my predicament. I left Mr. Herbert Fullilove, now feeling quite confident that I would finally reach the end of my search. I returned to the intersection where Tom had left me and proceeded up the road, this time turning right at the first little road on the right, purported to be named “Full of Love Road”. I followed it about three miles to where it dead-ended at an opened gate, which appeared to be the entrance to some private property. I saw some abandoned farm equipment, then I noticed a pond straight ahead about fifty yards. I was looking, but I couldn’t see anything like a cemetery. There were two large twin oak trees just ahead of me. Then I saw it. In the shade just beneath the trees, a single white headstone, one of those miniature stones, usually made for a child’s grave. Then I saw another larger stone, and then another. I had found the Fullilove Cemetery, next to the Fullilove Lake, at the end of Full of Love Road. These are those buried in the Fullilove Cemetery, Honey Island, Humphreys County, MS Fullilove, David T. b. Sep. 18, 1935 d. Aug. 10, 1975 Fullilove, Della b. Feb. 15, 1898 d. Jul. 20, 1986 Fullilove, Ethel L. b. Mar. 2, 1907 d. Jan. 1, 1975 Fullilove, Laura b. May 28, 1852 d. Jul. 21, 1907 Fullilove, Thomas F. b. May 21, 1902 d. Jan. 23, 1973 Fullilove, Thomas F. b. May 21, 1902 d. Jan. 23, 1973 Mabry, Ruby L. James b. Jul. 22, 1937 d. Sep. 28, 1980 Mabry, Waydell b. Dec. 1, 1964 d. Sep. 18, 2003 Alas, none of these names were those that I was familiar with. They are all black Fulliloves, more than likely descendants of slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson Fullilove
from Vaiden. I was not disappointed, though, because I had found what I had sought after and documented what I found. All that time Herbert Fullilove was probably sitting in his truck wondering, “Why’d that white man wanna visit my mamma and daddy’s grave?”
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