Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Edward Arthur Branch Buried in Good Hope Cemetery, Madison County, Mississippi


Photo by J. Tracy
The Entrance to Good Hope Cemetery, established 1851, near the Good Hope Baptist Church in Madison County, Mississippi.

Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery is located across a well-built and maintained wooden footbridge from the church. From the footbridge, a visitor can see deep down into a wooded ravine that is part of the heavily timbered countryside that provides a beautiful, serene setting for this old church and deceased members of its community who lived during the 1800's.

To get to the church and cemetery from Highway 51 North, turn right onto Highway 17 East, and travel about 6 miles to Rocky Ridge Road, a paved and scenic county road. Stay on Rocky Ridge Road for about 5.5 miles, passing Schrock Road on the left. Turn left onto Mullinville Road and travel approximately 500 yards to the church and cemetery directly ahead.

The cemetery is fenced, and on each side of the gate are engraved stones dedicating the cemetery to the memory of Barrett family who were instrumental in its establishment in 1851. The actual location of Good Hope Baptist Church and cemetery is in Madison County, Mississippi, but it is very near the line that separates that county from Attala County.
The tombstone you see here is located in the cemetery at Good Hope and was erected for Edward Arthur Branch, my paternal great-grandfather. Ed, as he was known to his family and friends, was born on November 15, 1874 in Madison County, Mississippi, and he died on November 2, 1915, in Jackson, Mississippi. The inscription on the tombstone states simply "Gone Home."

Ed Branch was only 40 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Two days before his death, he was admitted to a hospital in Jackson for surgery that doctors believed might save his life. He died of complications from that surgery, barely two weeks away from his 41st birthday. He left a widow and five children under the age of 18, and his only son, my grandfather, had just turned 16 years old.

Before he died, Ed Branch had been a member of an organization known as "Woodmen of the World," founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root. According to "Wikipedia," the organization's purpose was to help its members "clear away problems of financial security....," and one of the benefits of membership was the organization's free tombstones for its members.

My great-grandfather's tombstone, one of three present in the Good Hope Cemetery, and one of many in cemeteries across the state of Mississippi and the the country, is a reminder of the other men who worked in one of the earliest occupations in the United States, the wood and timber industry. Use of these tombstones, unique and shaped like stumps of wood that bore the Woodmen of the World logo, was discontinued by the organization sometime around 1920.

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