Walt's Look Around: The man with three graves - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: The man with three graves

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

A photo I snapped with my phone prompted this story. I posted it last Sunday on my Facebook page and it was one of Robert Johnson’s three graves.

I figured everybody had heard about legendary Delta blues man Robert Johnson and his three graves. But some of the responses to the post made me realize that maybe not everybody is familiar with the story.

Now technically, musician Robert Johnson only has one grave, the actual place where he is buried. But the location of that grave was lost for decades. And when folks started paying attention to the early blues players like Robert Johnson, they wanted to know where he was buried.

So they looked on his death certificate and saw that he was buried at Zion church. Only there is no plain ‘Zion” church in the area. There is Mount Zion, which is close to Quito where Payne Chapel is, where a bunch of his family is buried.

And when people started wanting to find Robert Johnson, someone placed a marker for him in that cemetery, but he is no doubt not buried at Payne Chapel.

Since his death certificate says Zion church, the next logical spot would be nearby Mount Zion. So fans and record companies erected this obelisk in his honor there.

And for years that satisfied everyone. Until about 15 years ago an, elderly woman in Greenwood said she knew for sure where he was buried because her husband helped bury him. And his real grave was at LITTLE Zion church on Money Road north of Greenwood.

A man whose legend of selling his soul to the devil and afterwards making the music that much of what we listen to today, has roots in NEEDS to have three graves just to contain all of him and the facts and the legends and myths that have grown up around him.

And that could also go for the Delta, where he made his name. It is a land way too flat for its importance in the fabric of American, or for that matter, Western Culture.

A land of mists and fogs in the winter and heat and visions in the summer; and where a man can have three graves and no one thinks a thing about it. 

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