Neely’s Landing Cemetery

Coming back through Neely’s Landing, I slowed down to see if there was any trace of a cemetery I had heard was on the top of one of the hills, but I didn’t see one nor any way to get up there. I’m still curious about the mass grave for the victims of the fire aboard the steamboat The Stonewall that killed between 200 and 300 passengers in 1869. When I got to the curve behind Proctor & Gamble, I turned around and cruised back north.

I spotted a couple – Roger and Rebecca – in front of a mobile home jacked way up on concrete blocks. Rebecca was walking a pit bull sporting what looked like a logging chain. I was a little uncomfortable for a bit, because I figured an animal that required a chain that big would have been able to drag the young woman like a cartoon character. The dog was either friendly or figured I wasn’t worth eating, because he didn’t appear aggressive.

Roger and I chatted a bit about how high the last flood got – “It came all the way up to the bottom of the trailer. When a barge would go by out on the river, the wave would lap up against the bottom of the floor. We had to take a boat to go all the way around the curve to where we were parked.”

I could cut through his lot

I asked about the cemetery. He said there was a road going up to it, but it was blocked off by a gate. I was welcome to cut through the back of his lot to get to it. “Is that your wife in the car?” he asked.

“Nope, that’s my mother. She turned 91 last week.”

“I don’t think she’ll be able to make it.”

Cemetery popped into view

“I’m not sure I can make it, but I wouldn’t bet against her.”

The road WAS fairly steep, but in decent condition. It had seen chat at some time in the past and it wasn’t too rutted. Just about the time I ran out of hill and breath, the cemetery popped into view.

Tree cut down

A storm must have taken down a big tree recently, based on the fresh sawdust around the stump. It damaged a few tombstones, but the cemetery was fairly well maintained.

Quiet and peaceful

The late afternoon sun made the east-facing tombstones hard to shoot, but I like the play of light anyway.

How old was Louisa Ross?

I couldn’t be sure if Louisa M. Ross was 100 years, one month old when she died or if she was a baby one month old. It’s hard to make out if she was born in 1802 and died in 1902 or if she was born and died in 1902. When I shot the photo, I was pretty sure it was 1802 and 1902. lists 74 interments in the cemetery. There are two with the name Ross: Baby Girl Ross, daughter of S.H. and S.J. Ross, born and died June 12,1900, and Sarah J. Ross, wife of S.H. Ross, who was born Feb. 6, 1893, and who died Aug. 25, 1904. The Louisa M. marker is prominent enough and old enough that I would have thought it would have made the listing.

Not the Stonewall cemetery

I don’t think The Stonewall’s mass grave is up there..

  • There’s not a lot of flat ground in the cemetery that would lend itself to a mass grave
  • It’s a steep climb up the hill.
  • It didn’t look like it would be easy digging.
  • The locals would figure the steamboat victims were strangers, so they would probably not want to take up the limited space where their families were going to be buried.
  • A spot closer to the river would be easier to reach and easier to dig.

A view of the Mississippi

Here’s a view of the river looking to the south from Neely’s Landing. If I knew exactly where The Stonewall went aground, I might poke around while the river is low. Newspaper reports pieces of broken queensware, coal, nails, bits of iron and even bones were still being found on the Stonewall Bar 67 years after the disaster.

Photo gallery of Neely’s Landing Cemetery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

24 Replies to “Neely’s Landing Cemetery”

  1. Sarah J. Ross, wife of S.H. Ross, who was born Feb. 6, 1893, and who died Aug. 25, 1904. Wouldn’t this make her 11 years old? A little young to be a wife I would think.

  2. You’re a fine one to be talking, Jesse James!! 🙂
    Paul Corbin once wrote about the Sultana, which sank in the Mississippi near Memphis in 1865. Because of an overload of Union soldiers, 1,700 were lost. I wonder where that graveyard is?
    Cemeteries are fascinating places!

  3. Glad to learn this old cemetery is still accessible and in decent enough condition to pop into view when a persistent climber gets to the top of the hill. When I was last there, in the late 1990s, there was no gate where I surmised the road up to be, only a thick growth of brush and saplings that discouraged me from attempting the ascent in the ordinary street shoes I was wearing at the time. I don’t recall having any family who are buried there, though the family certainly lived close enough for it. Still, the place holds great fascination for me. It’s the only place where I’ve seen “the tree with the lights in it.” (Those of you who’ve read Annie Dillard’s _Pilgrim at Tinker Creek_ will know what I’m talking about.)

  4. I find the Engelhart headstone intriguing. She had a son at 20, lost the son when he was 19, her husband shortly after and then passed on herself.

  5. I am interested to see if anyone knows of a Lucinda and Alonzo Abernathy that I believe are buried there. They are my grandparents and have long been trying to find their resting place. My father died when I was 16 and did not talk much of his childhood or where his parents were buried. Any info would be appreciated. Thank You

      1. Thank you so much. I plan on going there in the fall. I have also visited many other cemeteries in the area and have found many of my ancestors. Since I was named after my grandmother, it has always been on my mind to find a little bit of my heritage.

  6. Yesterday 10/11/2013 I ventured over two hours to find my grandparents resting place in Neelys Landing cemetery and was so disappointed. The cemetery was so overgrown we could not find anyone. Very sad to see this let alone upset that this has not been taken care of. There are still loved ones buried there and it is a shame. I had for years tried to find my name sake, grandmother, and was so sad that I could not find her or my grandfather.

  7. Hi Don, Thanks for the info, but I have been to that site. I knew they were in Neely”s Landing but I could not find their graves. I just believe that it was so long ago that may not have even had a stone. When I did my research I got Alonzo’s death cert. but everywhere I look it has no death date for Lucinda Abernathy. I guess I will just keep on trying

  8. Interesting .. I could probably never find it again but in 1940 or 1941 my mother’s sister and her husband rented a farm at Neely’s landing. We lived then in Malden MO but my sister and I came up on a train and stayed at Neely’s for maybe a week .. they had a hired man, Craiglow (only name I ever heard him called) .. at night he’d tell ghost stories and he also told the story about that boat burning .. that house overlooked the river, and the unmarked graves were in a field below the house that overlooked the river. Their granddaughter had pictures of the river in front of that house at our family reunion in 2014 .. I was only 10 or 11 and would not remember exactly where the house was. I do recall going down there with my mother maybe 20 years years ago and driving up to a cemetery on the hill .. sort of a scary drive as weeds were ‘biting’ at the car and I expected scratched ..

  9. So very grandmother lived in Neelys and the gravestone with the lamb belonged to her Dad’s little baby brother Ernest Brown. My Grandma was Jessie Brown and she lived next to the Craiglows. I visited this cemetery a few years ago. Also High Hill cemetery where my Grandparents are buried.

  10. Georgia, do you recall anyone by the name of Abernathy or Trickey around the Jackson area? I did find many Abernathy’s at Apple Creek. Trickey family had a farm in Jackson of about 366 acres as I recall and I went there every summer with my parents on a train. I did find where they are buried. They were my father’s cousins, Carl and Collie.

  11. There was a farm right on the corner of 177 & Hwy. V. That was a farm that belong to Trickey. The house is no longer there, there is a trucking place there now for P&G. P&G bought ground from them & my grandma & her 2 twin sisters, her sisters lived over on Hwy. J.

    1. Yes true! And there was Clyde and Agnes Trickey who lived on the corner of Route V and Y. Going East on Y toward Trail of Tears State Park. (On the left after crossing the bridge) In the Oriole Community. They were such sweethearts. We would ride our bikes past and they would stop us to give out pieces of candy. They knew our parents. The Trickey’s property backed up to my parents property line. We were the Aufdenberg family of Oriole. (Jackson, MO)

  12. Any knowledge of a Ms. M.E. Wall who lived in Neely’s Landing in the 1860’s or G (or L) Davis, her son?

  13. My grandmother and family were from Neelys. Their last name was Sides. My great grandfather was buried at Draby cemetary off of county rd 544 in cape county not too far from Neelys. Not for sure why he was buried there and not Neelys cemetary. I wish I had pictures of the town before it fell. My mom and I drive through Neelys every week. Would love to live there.

    1. You would want to live on the uphill side of town. I talked to some folks who lived in a trailer on the high side, and they described hearing the water splash against their supports.

  14. Well, I am a Neely. Yes I am related to the Neelys of Neely’s Landing and oddly enough I get back near there usually once a year. Fascinating!

  15. I was born in Neelys Landing in 1945. My parents were Woodrow and Irene (Brown) King. We lived in several different houses in Neely’s. Because of the river flodding and getting in our home we moved a lot. My dad worked for the Frisco railroad. I have wonderful memories of Neelys, the Mississippi, the trains going by and throwing us candy and fishing with my dad on the Missippi river. The last house we lived in was right below the grave yard.

    1. Hi Mary Ellen,
      You are a name of the past. I sometimes think of your family and others that went to Sheppard School. My name was Lillie McLard and I have wonderful memories of Neelys Landing. I have been in LA area for 65+years and miss the simple life of yesteryears. I have often returned to visit family and follow the changes of Neelys. I hope all is well with your family. If I remember correctly they’re was seven kids in your family. We were seven also.

      1. Hi Lillie, my mom, Coleen Fee taught at Sheppard school around 41 or 42. Married my dad, Harvey Smith in 1943 I believe. He was from Neely’s.

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