When I was passing through Cairo with Jan Norris on a cold January day in 2013, I shot several abandoned churches, including the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. It had a cornerstone dated June 24, 1882, with the name Rev. J.H. Knowl on it. The church is located at 25th Street and Poplar Street in Cairo (if it hasn’t been burned down since I took these). Click on the images to make them larger.
The only meaningful information I could find about the church was a brief in the 1894 Obituaries and Death Notices from The Cairo Citizen. Thanks to Darrel Dexter, who is credited for transcribing the files from the Cairo newspaper. I’ll publish a few portraits of death and dying in the river town.
Denies the Charge
The statement has been published in the local papers and telegraphed to the city dailies as well that a colored woman died from the effect of injuries received at a watch meeting at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Rev. Knowles the pastor, is highly indignant at such a statement, and desires us to say she died from natural causes. He admits she was present at the meeting, as she was a faithful member of his flock and had been for sixteen years, but he claims she had been complaining for several days, and in fact was a sufferer from some chronic trouble. Her name was Kittie Kelly. She left a husband and two small children.
John Clark, captain of the watch, was killed Monday morning by John Bennett, a roustabout. Both are colored, and were employed on the steamer State of Missouri. About 4 o’clock Monday morning, Clark ordered all hands out for week. Bennett did not move fast enough to suit him and Clark attempted coercion. Angry words followed Clark struck Bennett, and the latter retaliated by hitting him over the head several times with a spade. Clark was conveyed to the marine hospital in a dying condition, where he expired in a few hours and Bennett was placed in jail.
Adam Rees – congestion of the bowels
Mr. Adam Rees, the well-known baker on Twentieth Street, died suddenly yesterday morning at 7 o’clock, of congestion of the bowels. About two years ago Mr. Rees was seriously poisoned by eating some cheese and his stomach and bowels having never completely recovered, he finally succumbed.
A contested will
The will of the late Capt. William A. Hight, of Wetaug, was probated last Wednesday. It was drawn up in the law office of Lansden & Leek at Cairo, May 30th, 1893, and was witnessed by M. J. Howely, Dr. W. W. Stevensell and David S. Lansden. The will provides, first, that all just debts be paid. Second, that his daughters, Annetta Poor, Alice Dunn and Adelia Mowery, and his grandchildren, Walter, Charles, Alney, Harry, Robert, Nettie, Alice and Patsy Hight, children of his deceased son, Alexander Hight, each receive $5. Third, that his daughter, Virginia Josephine Hight, stepson George P. Bird and stepdaughter Eliza A. Bird, after paying the legacies above shall each, equally, share and share alike, be possessed of all his property, both real and personal, to have and to hold for themselves, their heirs and assigns forever. George P. Bird was named as executor, and he filed his bond in the sum of $10,000 with Fred Hofffmier and Thomas F. Meyers, as sureties. It is stated that the heirs who were left with but $5 each have already secured attorneys and will contest the will.
The Second War with England
Mrs. Barbara G. Morris, an old and esteemed resident of this city, died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Fraser, 2611 Sycamore Street, at about half past eight last Monday morning….Mrs. Barbara G. Morris was born in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 2, 1797, and at the time of her death was 96 years, 2 months, and 20 days old, and was undoubtedly the oldest resident of this county. Although almost entirely blind at the time of her death, her mind remained very active, and her memory was wonderful. She used to delight in relating anecdotes of the second war with England, and had witnessed many stirring scenes during these troublesome times. She also remembered every presidential election from the time of Jefferson down. Calmly and peacefully she breathed her last, sustained and comforted by the knowledge that she would join those who had gone before, in her heavenly home.
Jesse Whitiker recovering
Thursday, 15 Feb 1894: Little Jesse Whitaker, the ten-year-old son of Mr. Henry Whitaker, of Elco, whose skull was so badly fractured by the kick of a horse about two weeks ago, is getting along finely and is now seems probably that he will fully recover. He is able to sit up and move about to some extent, and his mind is perfectly clear. Dr. Elrod, of Cairo, is the attending physician. The doctor has five or six pieces of the boy’s skull, which he took out and brought home.
“Floater” had good boat and four dollars
Last Friday, while attending court at Bardwell, W. T. White, coroner of this county, received a telegram from East Cairo asking him to come and hold an inquest on a floater. The man was a fisherman, who was drowned about ten days ago. His name was J. H. Cross and his home is supposed to be in Michigan. He had a good boat well furnished, a gun and pistol and four dollars in money.
Stolen meat leads to killing
A shooting affray occurred in the northwest part of this county last Saturday night, which resulted in the death of Robert Kelley. Some meat that had been stolen was found hidden in a straw stack. Mr. Kelley and three other men were watching the straw with a view to capturing the thieves. Late in the night the watchers fell asleep and while they slept some unknown party fired upon them. One ball struck Mr. Kelley in the head and he died from the wound Monday. Charles Dunn and John Rodgers of that community have been arrested charged with the killing and there are strong circumstances pointing to their guilt.
Son of saloonkeeper kills self
William Stern, son of a saloonkeeper here, committed suicide Sunday evening by blowing out his brains with a pistol. He had been out to call on a young lady, and was standing in front of his father’s saloon laughing and joking with some friends. Stepping back a few paces, and without a word of warning, he suddenly placed the pistol to his head and fired death being instantaneous. No cause is assigned for the rash act.
Older Cairo stories
I’ve photographed Cairo since the 1960s. Here are some older stories and photos.