I was on my way back home from Natchez after finishing up a story there one recent Saturday and decided to take some of the side roads along the lower Natchez Trace. And when I got to the fork in the road on Highway 553 at the Church Hill community, I stopped and looked around for a few minutes.
I have done a few stories featuring Christ Episcopal Church at Church Hill over time. Even have a few shots of it in the first Looking Around Mississippi book. The cemetery is one of those old and interesting grave yards with old stones and no doubt lots of old family stories. Eudora Welty took some of her churchyard photographs here. And even though it is an ancient burial ground, the cemetery is still being used today, too. As is the church. Roof repairs and a handicapped ramp indicates activity and life.
As does the locked door. They used to keep the church open all the time. Then started locking the inner doors to the sanctuary but you could still climb up into the old slave gallery and get a peek, and now the outside door. You'll just have to go there for a worship service sometime to see the turkey-feather painted faux grained wooden beams and the old organ. And the stained glass windows.
The historic marker at the foot of the hill where the church is located at Church Hill says the church was organized in the 1790s. And the community was also known as the Maryland Settlement. I'm doing some speculating here, but I am assuming that the founders may have been among those loyalist from the east coast who migrated to the Natchez District around the time of the American Revolution. There were already English speaking settlers in the district in 1776. The "Maryland Settlement" name no doubt pointing to the place of origin of the first people who migrated here.
Now, this is the 3rd church building for Christ Church on this site. It was finished in 1858. Just across the road from it is the old Waggoner's Store. Closed now and owned by the community as a landmark.
But Church Hill is another example of the wayside stops you can make along the roads of Mississippi and take a little walk not only in distance, but back through the centuries at the same time.
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Tuesday, September 16 2014 10:11 AM EDT2014-09-16 14:11:21 GMT
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