A Short History of the Beauvoir Memorial Cemetery
By Jane K. Sullivan
Documents and letters in the Beauvoir archives reveal that the Beauvoir Memorial Cemetery had hand-painted wooden boards as grave markers before more permanent stones were obtained. One of the inmates, Van Buren Mass, was a sign painter form Biloxi paid to inscribe these wooden markers. In time, private funds were used to obtain more permanent headstones. Eventually, the government would provide stones for the veterans, but the wives and widows who were buried in the Beauvoir Memorial Cemetery are not eligible for headstones from the government. As late as the 1970s there were still metal markers from the funeral homes identifying graves, and there are still unmarked graves in the cemetery as of 2018. Some of the original stones have been broken or deteriorated and no replacements have been acquired. Many of the stones that show the veteran’s unit do not designate infantry, cavalry, or artillery when it could be any of those. In short, if there was any way to give mistaken information on a stone, it was done.
According to Mrs. Jane Sullivan’s research, there are several people buried in the cemetery who were never inmates of the Soldiers’ Home (The word “inmate” did not have the connotation that it does today. At the time of the Soldiers’ Home it merely meant inhabitant.) Some were Confederate veterans or the wives and widows of veterans. The Confederate veterans and their wives were Edward and Parthenia Aldrich of Gulfport; and David and Mary Scarborough of Biloxi. William Spencer McDaniel of Gulfport, a Confederate veteran buried in the cemetery, was the husband of Eva Rowell McDaniel, who became an inmate after his death. Three members of the family of Confederate General Samuel Wagg Ferguson were destitute inhabitants of Biloxi. His wife, Catherine Sarah (Kate) Lee Ferguson, could have been admitted as an inmate but did not wish to do so. His daughter, Miss Percy Ferguson did wish to be admitted, but she was not eligible. She sued the Soldiers’ Home under the provision for orphans of veterans and lost the suit. His son, James DuGue Ferguson, is buried in the cemetery on Hurricane Plantation near Vicksburg and reinterred at Beauvoir. Varina Davis Howell Droege was Mrs. Davis’s niece, and President and Mrs. Davis were her godparents. E.E. Droege was her husband. They have a large shared family stone.
United Daughters of the Confederacy, Walter m. Lampton, and the Stones of the Beauvoir Memorial Cemetery
By Jane K. Sullivan
Article (edited): February 10, 1919- Daily Herald
“Beauvoir Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Biloxi will observe their annual Tag Day on Saturday, the 1st day of March. Tag day was first introduced in the South by this chapter thirteen years ago… and will now take up their regular and very necessary work at Beauvoir… This chapter has started a fund to erect stone markers at the head of each grave at Beauvoir- the same kind that marks the graves in the national cemeteries; and it should be considered a privilege and matter of pride and more than a duty to see to it that the grave of every veteran who gave his all for the South is properly marked.”
Article (edited): December 20, 1921- Daily Herald
“Lampton Will Furnish Stones for Beauvoir Cemetery to take Place of Wood Markings of the Dead Soldiers and their wives. W. M. Lampton, who is considered one of the staunchest friends of the Jefferson Davis Soldiers’’ Home, whose funds have at all times been at the command of Superintendent Tartt, now wants to replace the present headstones in the cemetery in the rear of the home, which are made of wood with stone or marble. He has written Mr. Tartt to this effect, the letter of which is s follows:While in Biloxi last week I went to the burial ground of the old soldiers. It seemed to be in good condition and I thought the headstones were all of marble. Of course, each grave is beautifully marked, but this is of wood and as you know in the course of time they will decay, and the home may not have the same superintendent who will take care of the graves with the same interest as you and Mrs. Tart. Suppose you find out what it will cost to have cement head-boards to replace what they have now. If it doesn’t cost too much, we may be able to make up the amount to pay for the same. If nothing prevents I will be down next Saturday evening. Yours truly, W. M. Lampton” (Mr. Lampton was a wealthy businessman from Pike County, Mississippi, who donated generously to the Soldiers’ Home.)”
Article (edited): March 11, 1927- Daily Herald
“Tomorrow (Saturday) will be Tag Day in Biloxi, this being the annual affair by the Beauvoir Chapter of Biloxi United Daughters of the Confederacy to raise funds to place markers on the graves of the Confederate soldiers in the cemetery at the Jeff Davis Soldiers’ Home. For twenty years the ladies have been diligently engaged in this work and they have at least realized enough funds with which to purchase 200 white marble markers to be placed at the graves of the old soldiers who fought for the Lost Cause and have passed to the great beyond. These will be sufficient to mark only one half, but the Chapter is anxious to work by degrees until every grave has a marker. Besides, it has maintained a sexton at the cemetery every year to preserve the property. The ladies intend to place these markers prior to June 3, when exercises honor the late president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Then the cemetery will assume the air of a military burying ground.”
Article (edited): June 4, 1927- Daily Herald
“Biloxi Chapter U. D. C. celebrated the 119th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis with beautiful exercise at Beauvoir Soldiers’ Home and dedicated a monument to the Confederate dead and individual markers for 202 graves in the Beauvoir Cemetery. … One old gentleman who has a brother buried in the cemetery asked to be allowed to pay for a marker as did one or two others and the ladies will gladly accept any such offers…The monument of Vermont marble draped in the red and white color of the Confederacy was unveiled by J. A. Dilworth a brother of Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Bynum, in whose honor the monument was given by their cousins, the Roger brothers, from whom the markers were purchased. The inscription is on the monument: “Confederate Dead ‘No Nation rose so white and fair, Non fell so pure of crime.’ Erected by Mrs. C.W. Bynum and Mrs. G.F. Robinson.”
Article (edited): March 9, 1928- Daily Herald
“The Biloxi Chapter U. D. C. will observe their annual Tag Day on Saturday, March 19, Proceeds from this annual event are used in providing markers for the graves of veterans at Beauvoir Cemetery. A large number were erected last year and through the generosity of W.M. Lampton markers for the graves of the wives of veterans buried at Beauvoir will be obtained.”
Article (edited): September 7, 1928- Daily Herald
“Beauvoir Contracts for 400 Tombstones. The Columbus Marble Works, Columbus, Miss., was awarded the contract for the purchase of 400 marble tombstones at the regular meeting of the directors this morning. There was considerable competitive bidding with seven firms and this contract. The price was $6 each. This will not only mark every grave in the Beauvoir Cemetery but leave a surplus of about 1000 stones. All the members of the board including Governor Bilbo are attending the session. The governor was present at the Southern Advisor Shippers’ board meeting at the Buena Vista.”
Article (edited): March 27, 1929- Daily Herald
“All the graves at the old Soldiers’ Home are now marked with marble markers, except those who died recently. Supt. Tartt got Governor Bilbo to make a special plea to the legislature for funds to continue this meritorious work started by the local U. D. C. The U. D. C. had taken care of the graves of the veterans but lacked the funds to care for the graves of their widows. Three hundred marble markers have recently been laid to mark the graves in the Beauvoir cemetery, Mr. Tartt said.”
Article (edited): November 22, 1933- Daily Herald
This article gives some Soldiers’ Home statistics and cemetery information by John H. Land.“There are now at the home 144 inmates of whom were 37 men and 107 women, wives, and widows of old Confederates. The records show that the total number admitted since the opening on December 2, 1903, is 2,125. Of this number, the records show 670 have died and buried in the home cemetery since 1914, but there is no record to show how many died or left before that time; 104 of the dead were shipped to their own homes. The records do not show the number that left before death. I visited the cemetery and found Mr. Havens had made great improvement there, but I would suggest that the old dilapidated wire fence around the cemetery be removed and some decent fences be placed there and that some of the carelessly placed grave markers be aligned uniformly so that it would look more civilized when people visit the last home of our departed friends.”
Article (edited): October 4, 1934- Daily Herald
“Beauvoir Chapter Luncheon… Action was taken to devise ways and means to provide headstones for the graves of deceased wives of Confederate soldiers who are buried in the Beauvoir Cemetery. A resolution was passed and will be sent to the division convention asking for assistance in this project.”
Article (edited): November 7, 1936- Daily Herald
“Will Make Effort to Mark Beauvoir Graves. Efforts will be made to secure headstones for the graves of the old ladies at Beauvoir Cemetery, 29 of which are not marked with stones. The government furnishes stones for the men but not for the women.” (US President William McKinley promised the United Daughters of the Confederacy in a convention in Atlanta at the time of the Spanish American War that the United States government would provide marble stone markers for Confederate soldiers and veterans. So far as I have been able to determine, the first such stones were issued in 1929.)
Article (edited): June 9, 1937- Daily Herald
“U. D. C. Tea at Mrs. Bolton’s. Since its organization more than 30 years ago, the Beauvoir Chapter has accompanied worthwhile things. Besides their historical work, they, for many years maintained the cemetery at Beauvoir and erected more than two hundred markers thereon.”
Oddities and Problems in the Cemetery
By Mrs. Jane K. Sullivan
Some of the stones have carvings which are odd, i.e. the way the letter “N” is represented. On some of thestones the “N” is carved backward.
The stone for J.W. Jackson only records the county he entered from-Harrison County, and there is no service unit listed. The stone for A. A. Zachary is the same- its only lists Kemper County and no service unit is given. The stone for S. L. Rice is unique in that underneath his name is “No Record.” M. H. Beard’s inscription is “74 Years” and Charles Fox’s inscription reads “79 Years.” More impressive is Patrick McLaughlin’s “Age 104.” There are many names that have been misspelled such as the stone for Charles A. Binet. His stone reads, “C. A. Kinet, Co E, 20th Miss.” Daniel “Tuck” Sumrall’s stone reads, “D. Dumrall, died 1913.” T. L. Nichols has the simple inscription “Confederate States Army.”
There are several instances of duplicate stones in the cemetery. One of the best-known examples of a duplicate stone is B. H. Welsh, Co. A, 12th Ky. (No. A-10-279) and B. H. Welch, Co. A, 12th Ky. Regt. (No. A-06-177). The first is spelled like the inhabitants of the county and the second like the grape juice. Burrell H. Welch and his wife, Susan E. Welch entered the home together in 1908, and her obituary stated that she was buried beside her husband. Her stone is Mrs. S. E. Welch (No. A-06-178). There are other suspected duplications such as A. J. Demisons, (No. A-08-231) for Corp. Daniel J. Dennison, Co. G, 62 Va. Mtd. Inf, CSA (No. B-07-349). There are no extant records on A. J. Demisons, Co. G, 62 Va. And he was not found in the Resident Roster nor were there any service records found under that name. Samira Dennison (N. B-07-348), wife of Daniel J. Dennison [Mississippi Death Certificate] has the inscription, Mrs. A. J. Demisons, Age 75.
There is no documentation as to why these duplications exist, so the mysteries continue.