Oxford, Mississippi Meeting Burns Belfry Museum
A very good and productive time indeed for Team Mt. Zion on May 19 in Oxford. Burns Belfry Museum Curators Amy Wilkes and Robrecus Toles were most helpful in helping us prepare for the morning work session at the historic former Burns United Methodist Church building, the perfect spot for any MZMF function with its amazing collection of displays portraying the history of the struggle for African American civil rights. During the morning session we exchanged thoughts and ideas for refining the MZMF mission statement, discussed possible contacts to aid in researching projects, and general concerns including the need to involve as many community members or “stakeholders” as possible while maintaining integrity through our focus on research-based information. We discussed the potential of various community contacts such as city council members, county sheriffs and supervisors, in facilitating research and community relations.
Visit to the Ajax Diner in Downtown Oxford
We thoroughly enjoyed our noon break at Ajax Diner where my friend Randy Yates personally served us his award-winning southern cuisine. It was a great opportunity for us to bond further as a team in a relaxed setting. Then on to St. Andrew’s UMC for our afternoon work session as the Belfry is open to the public during afternoon hours.
During the afternoon session we discussed a list of planned restoration projects made possible in part through our SHARP grant. Target dates (in approximately chronological order)
- Nathan Beauregard memorial, Shiloh MB Church, Ashland (September 18, 2022)
- Rube Lacey, Bakersfield, California (October 2022)
- Roosevelt Graves, Gulfport (2022 or 2023?)
- Jim Jackson, Hernando (April 2023)
- Mississippi John Hurt, Teoc community in Carroll County (October 2023)
After adjourning we carpooled to the Chulahoma community (of Junior Kimbrough fame) near Holly Springs to participate in making a video on the work of Team Mt. Zion, produced by our man TM Garret at his newly-completed studio. The scenery and moderately-cool breezes of the North Mississippi Hill Country were refreshing as we waited for our turns to be interviewed by our Project Director, Dr. DeWayne Moore. TM and his wife, Carmen, made us feel most welcome and fed us a delicious spaghetti supper at the end of our busy day. The hearts and minds of Abdulrahman Ajibola, Shannon Evans, and Emily Hilliard along with DeWayne Moore’s thoughtful and dedicated leadership, are enabling the MZMF to realize its mission through the administration of these significant projects.
Visit to Ashland, Mississippi
On May 26 Abdul and I visited Ashland Mississippi to generate contacts regarding Nathan Beauregard and attempt to locate the gravesites of Beauregard’s family at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. Upon arriving in Ashland, I decided on a hunch to visit the Benton County Courthouse where I met Justice Court Clerk Felicia Washington who is the daughter of one of the Shiloh MB Church members, Doris Strickland. Ms. Washington gave me Ms. Strickland’s cell phone number and I contacted her with a voice mail before Abdul and I headed to the cemetery. While at the Shiloh cemetery I located the grave of Hattie Bogard, perhaps a relative of Nathan Beauregard.
Ms. Strickland returned my call the following day. I explained our mission regarding the Shiloh cemetery; she gladly provided me with another contact at the church, whom she told me she was on her way to visit at the time of our conversation.
Later I corresponded with Bob Jacoby, a Benton County resident who knows local blues artist Little Joe Ayers. Bob noted that Nathan Beauregard’s sister, Pearl, is buried in another cemetery outside Ashland but did not mention its name. He added that many who knew the Bogard family, as well as a longtime pastor at Shiloh who would have been familiar with church history, have passed.
Contributed by Corey Crowder
Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Nesbit, MS
In fact, Callicott recorded only a handful of songs before World War II. On September 23, 1929 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN, Garfield Akers recorded “Cottonfield Blues—Part I” and “Cottonfield Blues—Part II” with Joe Callicott on second guitar. On September 25, 1929 in Memphis, TN; Joe Callicott sang and played guitar on Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues, but it was never issued. On February 20, 1930 in Memphis, TN, Joe Callicott sang and played guitar on Fare Thee Well Blues and Traveling Mama Blues. His records were advertised in such publications as the Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov 30, 1930.
“Although he probably realized only about $300” from the record company,” says Wardlow, “it meant instant acceptance. He was treated like the president of the United States.” According to Wardlow, Callicott was born in DeSoto County, grew up playing music as a teenager, and working in the fields and levee camps. Drawn to Memphis by record companies set up in the Peabody Hotel, he accompanied another musician initially rather than record solo. “He came back later and made a recording. He was a real solid guitar man; played Memphis style guitar,” Wardlow explained, in the same vein developed by Memphis songster Frank Stokes, who the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund also memorialized in June 2016 after Memphis author Robert Gordon contacted current MZMF director DeWayne Moore. A headstone now adorns the long unmarked grave of Stokes in the abandoned Hollywood Cemetery in Memphis.