Friday, November 2, 2007

A Visit to Historic Keyes Cemetery

The old Keyes Graveyard west of the Tombigbee River in Itawamba County is perhaps the county's largest historic cemetery. Early Itawamba County pioneers were buried here including many of the old Itawamba planter families and residents of the old river port town of Van Buren.

The old cemetery began as the Keyes plantation cemetery around 1840. Judge William Keyes was a prominent citizen of early Itawamba County. He and his family lived part of the year in the town of Fulton at his Greek Revival style townhouse on Cummings Street (present-day Fulton City Police Department lot). Part of the year he lived on his extensive farm west of the Tombigbee River on the lands surrounding the old Keyes Cemetery. The Keyes family tied into many of the old Tombigbee River planter families of Itawamba County including the Whitesides and Thomas families.

Today the old cemetery has become one of the largest in Itawamba County and features many ornate monuments from early Itawamba County as well as an old pall bell. It has been said that during past times, when someone in the community died,the community would be summoned to the cemetery by the ringing bell.

Photographs by Bob Franks

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