Now that we’ve got the Faulkner/Falkner family sorted out, let’s move on to the other folks buried at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.
A Transplanted Patriot
It wasn’t until this week that I realized I’d managed to photograph the grave of the only Revolutionary War veteran buried in the cemetery. This fellow has a Georgia connection.
Born on May 6, 1759 in Luenberg, Va., Daniel Green McKie was one of three sons born to Scottish immigrant Michael McKie. In 1778 at age 19, Daniel joined Hobson’s Virginia Regiment under the command of Gen. Nathanael Greene. Now that name rings a bell! You can read about Gen. Greene and how his remains were moved from Savannah, Ga.’s Colonial Cemetery to Johnson Square in 1901 in this blog post.
McKie fought during the entire Revolutionary War and won praise for his actions at the Battles of Stone Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. He was rewarded with a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant.
On March 14, 1794, Lt. McKie wed Frances Herndon, a direct descendant of Sir Dudley Diggs, a Colonial governor of Virginia. They moved to Columbia, S.C. and raised six boys together. After experiencing financial difficulties in 1836, the lure of cheap land in Mississippi due to the Chickasaw Cession spurred McKie to move his family again. He died in Holly Springs, Miss. on Nov. 16, 1839 at age 80.
At the dedication of his grave at Oxford Memorial by the David Reese Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1927, McKie’s granddaughter is reported to have said, “He must have been a picturesque figure as he always wore full Colonial dress, exactly as we see in pictures of Washington and LaFayette.”
The Oxford-based chapter of the Mississippi Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is named after Lieut. Daniel McKie.
A Little-Known War
There’s another soldier buried at Oxford Memorial, but he died at the start of a war we don’t often associate with Mississippi. That’s the Mexican-American War.
The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) marked the first U.S. armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil. It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of U.S. President James K. Polk, who believed the U.S. had a “manifest destiny” to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.
There was strong popular support for the war in many states. In Mississippi, the response to a call for 1,000 volunteers was so great that by June 1, 1846, an estimated 17,000 men were in Vicksburg wanting to enlist.
Among them was 25-year-old Thomas L. Jones, son of Georgia native and War of 1812 veteran John Peyton Jones and Tabitha Wheelwright Whatley Jones. He enlisted as a private and was assigned to Company K (the Tombigee Guards) of the First Mississippi, which became known as the Mississippi Rifles.
But it was not to be. While waiting with his fellow soldiers to head out, Thomas contracted congestive fever, which is sometimes thought to be malaria. He died on July 12, 1846 in Vicksburg.
Thomas is buried to the right of his parents in the center of a circle of trees.
There’s a heartfelt inscription on the back of his monument, which is a broken column. This indicates a life cut short.
Uncle of a Confederate General
As we were exploring, I noticed a surname I was familiar with, one well known in Civil War history. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870) was the uncle of Confederate General James Longstreet. I wrote about him and his grave at Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery in 2017.
Born in Augusta, Ga. on Sept. 22, 1790 to Hannah Randolph and William Longstreet, Augustus Longstreet wore many hats during his lifetime. He graduated from Yale University in 1811 and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1815. He met Frances Eliza Parke and they married in 1817. Of their eight children, only two — daughters Frances Eliza and Virginia Lafayette — lived to adulthood.
In 1821, Longstreet began a term in the Georgia General Assembly representing Greene County, a term cut short the following year when the assembly appointed him to serve for three years as the judge of the Superior Court of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. In 1824, Longstreet was campaigning for the U.S. Congress when the death of his first-born child, Alfred, prompted him to withdraw from the race. Longstreet’s grief led him to earnestly read the Bible and to pray, and soon he was “a thorough believer in Christianity.”
After his judgeship ended, Longstreet and his family moved to Augusta. He joined the Methodist church in 1827 and felt called to preach the following year. In 1828, he was licensed to preach locally and his full-time ministerial career began in December 1838, when he became a traveling Methodist minister.
James Longstreet came to live with the his uncle’s family in Augusta to attend Richmond County Academy. When Augustus’ brother, also named James, died in 1833, he became even more of a father figure to his nephew.
Author, Minister, and College President
In 1835, Longstreet published “Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc, in the First Half Century of the Republic”, a book of humorous sketches which were based on life in the South. Poet Edgar Allan Poe gave it a rave review, and in 1840 the book was re-issued by Harper and Brothers. Longstreet’s goal was (in his words) “to supply a chasm in history which has always been overlooked — the manners, customs, amusements, wit, dialect as they appear in all grades of society to an ear and eye witness of them.”
Longstreet’s brief career as a full-time minister ended when he became president of Emory College in Oxford, Ga. in January 1840. Four years later, he resigned his post to serve briefly as president of Centenary College in Jackson, La. He was president of Ole Miss from 1849 to 1856. After briefly retiring, he was offered the presidency of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) where he served until 1861 when the Civil War began.
Longstreet moved to Oxford, Miss., where his ill wife had been living with one of their daughters. In December 1862, Federal troops reached Oxford and burned his house. The Longstreets relocated to Oxford, Ga., and then to Columbus, Ga. After the war, the Longstreets lived in Oxford, Miss., where Frances died in 1869. Augustus Longstreet died on July 9, 1870 at age 79.
The inscription on the Longstreet family monument is not easy to read so I am thankful to the person who transcribed it for Augustus’ memorial on Find a Grave. Longstreet apparently wrote it not long before he died:
He sleeps by the side of his wife of whom he never thought himself worthy and who never thought herself worthy of her husband. In every innocent movement of his life, she went hand in hand and heart in heart with him for over Fifty-one years. Death was a kind visitor to them both.
A Lingering Mystery
There is a bit of a mysterious footnote that I’m still trying to solve and that is the fate of Augustus Longstreet’s grandson, Augustus Longstreet Branham. Born on Sept. 7, 1847, he was the son of Longstreet’s daughter Frances Eliza Longstreet Branham and Dr. Henry Branham. Augustus Branham died on Sept. 17, 1867 according to the family monument. But how and where did he die?
I truly Googled my heart out on this one but to little avail. Ancestry yielded little beyond census records of his living with his family in Oxford in 1850 and 1860. But he vanishes after that. However, I did find a curious paragraph in the church history of England’s Nutfield Parish Church, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, located south of London. It says:
Opposite, on the North wall, is a fascinating alcove behind a brass memorial plate, the ‘ghost cupboard’! Was it the Easter sepulchre, or simply a cupboard, in the days before vestries were thought of? The poignant memorial is to a young American lad, Augustus Longstreet Branham, who died on his way home to New York after a visit to this country. There is a Hall of Residence named after him in Oxford, Miss.
This was puzzling indeed because I could find no Branham Hall listed on the Ole Miss web site. What is the New York connection? Did Branham spend time in England? If anyone reading this knows, please contact me as I’d love to know what happened to him.
More to come next time in Part III!