Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Sunday’s Cemetery 21

July 12, 2015 / by davidwalton

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The contrast between 83-year-old Julia Ann Townsen’s grave, the nearby wheatfield and the blue sky was simply amazing.

Cemeteries. Every city has one. They are mysterious, historic, haunting and, to me, fascinating. I developed a fondness for cemeteries as a boy.

Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.

Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.

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Mount Zion Cemetery in Pemiscot County, Missouri will make you appreciate life — and death — in the heart of America.

DSC08500xMy travels take me to all over the South and Midwest, so I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a new Sunday feature.

This week’s cemetery is Mount Zion Cemetery in Steele, MO. This small community of roughly 2,172 residents in Pemiscot County is located in an area often called the “Bootheel”.  It’s also considered a hub site because of its close proximity to nearby towns: ape Girardeau, MO, Jonesboro, AR, and Dyersburg and Memphis, TN.

When the city was incorporated in the early 1900s, it contained seven general stores, three cotton gins, a sawmill and a gristmill (a mill for grinding grain). The first Post Office was located in the Samford and Treece store where George W. Treece served as the first Postmaster.

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These were two of my favorites headstones: “He was the sunshine of our home” is the epitaph that appears on J.R. White’s headstone (above); and I really dig the spelling of Gnoah Brooks first name on his headstone (below).

DSC08512xFor being such a rural community, you’d never know it by the size of Mount Zion Cemetery. At first it seems small, but as you start to walk among the graves they seem to never end! The cemetery had been added onto more than a few times over the years. I counted at least four sections, although there could have been more.

Mount Zion has a colorful history with it’s melting pot of citizens now taking up residency. While many cemeteries can leave you feeling somewhat somber or subdued, M.Z. had the opposite effect. It left me in an effervescent, ebullient mood.

Its most unique feature is its location in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. Mount Zion is so peaceful and such a consequential part of this charming community.

Until next time….

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