Thursday, November 6, 2008
Palmetto: An Early African American Cemetery and Community
Today the site of Palmetto is silent. Tall oak trees and dense undergrowth surround the old community cemetery – the only remaining evidence of this once thriving African American community a few miles northeast of Fulton in Itawamba County, Mississippi.
The site of Palmetto once belonged to S. John Warren during antebellum times. S. John Warren was born in Virginia in 1776 and moved to Kentucky with his family following the American Revolution. He married Cassandra Gentry, daughter of Richard Gentry on November 1, 1806 in Madison, Kentucky. They were the parents of Willey, Reubin, Charles, Sarah, Cassie, Isom J. and Susanna.
After the death of his first wife, S. John Warren married Sarah Robinson in Tennessee and soon thereafter moved his family to Limestone County, Alabama. While in Alabama the following children were born to S. John and Sarah: William D., John F., Sarah, Napoleon Bonaparte, Melinda and George W. Following some of his older sons, S. John moved his family to Itawamba County about 1840 where two more children were born. They were Alex and Manerva.
S. John owned a sizeable farm of 1,680 acres northeast of Fulton near Dulaney Branch. S. John's son, Charles, was elected the first sheriff of Itawamba County in 1836 and the Warren family served Itawamba County by holding several public offices throughout the years. S. John Warren died on September 19, 1863 and was buried in a small family plot on his farm.
The Warren family, according to probate records, owned 13 slaves, consisting of two families – the James Warren family and the George Warren family.
After emancipation and the Civil War, a former slave - George Warren, bought 160 acres from the S. John Warren estate. The deed was signed by Dr. Napoleon Bonaparte Warren, the administrator of the estate during 1869.
The 1870 U.S. Federal census for Itawamba County shows three Warren families living on the 160-acre property: James Warren, his wife Sarah and children Mary, James, Francis, Cassiday, Jane, George and Wiley; George Warren, his wife Mary and children Jane, Elizabeth, Jacob, Rubin, Ely, George and John; Fred Warren and wife Sarah and child Lucy.
During the Reconstruction era, the small community continued to grow as George Warren sold various plots of land and by 1900 the community of nearly sixty inhabitants consisted of several farms, a church, school and cemetery known as Palmetto. Surnames during the community’s history consisted of Warren, Tucker, Lunceford, Fisher, Lawhorn, Clemmons, Wiley, Luster, Pollard, Moody, Steele, Hegwood, Odell, Ramsey and Law.
After 1920 the community declined as most residents moved to the town of Fulton and other areas. Today nothing is left of the old community except the historic cemetery hidden in the dense woods and undergrowth. This old cemetery stands as a lasting legacy to the historic African American community of Palmetto in the hills of eastern Itawamba County, Mississippi.
Palmetto Cemetery Survey
Rachel, wife of Ben Tucker
Died September 17, 1889
Virgie, daughter of B & R Tucker
February 28, 1890 – October 2, 1904
Rachel, wife of Bryant Odell
Died July 16, 1899
Aged 22 years
Willie D., wife of J.C. Hegwood
July 6, 1874 – May 31, 1897
Eliza Jane, wife of A.L. Lawhorn
March 15, 1854 – March 24, 1903
J.S. Lawhorn, son of A.& E. Lawhorn
December 20, 1873 – June 27, 1897
John, son of A.& E. Lawhorn
April 9, 1887 – July 11, 1897
Died July 13, 1939
Charley, wife of R.B. Warren
March 1, 1865 – February 22, 1922
December 25, 1827 – November 21, 1905
Mary, wife of G.W. Warren
1833 – 1878
Jacob G. Warren
January 12, 1858 – June 5, 1882
Died March 15, 1883
Aged 50 years
Liller, wife of John Pollard
March 15, 1883 – May 15, 1917
September 22, 1880 – December 28, 1885
March 27, 1882 – February 15, 1887
Children of J.H. and D. Steele