Vardaman History Project - Midway Cemetery and Memorial

The Midway Baptist Church Cemetery

Aerial View of Midway
Midway Church and cemetery are located approximately six miles south of the town of Vardaman, east of Highway 341 on county road 428. The cemetery is adjacent to the church, which was organized in 1848, four years before Calhoun County was formed, and was originally in Chickasaw County.

The oldest death date on a monument in this cemetery is that of Delilah Howard who died January 24, 1851. She died in childbirth and her monument inscription includes "Wife of GW Howard, A Member of the Baptist Church, The mother of but one sweet babe, a son which lies to the left by her side".

A local legend is that the first burial here was a child who died while travelling on a wagon train and that the wagons paused for the burial as they passed the Midway meeting house. However, no written record can be found to document this.

There are a significant number of unmarked graves in the Midway Cemetery. Many of these graves are said to be those of slaves and other black folks who, until about 1870, had been members of the church.
Midway Diagram
In the discussion accompanying this diagram of the cemetery which is taken from the cemetery census linked below, the authors say, "In the large open area west of the Central and part of the Southeast Sections there were many slave markers and possibly other graves. At one time cedar crosses stood above the slave graves but time has destroyed these."

Norman W. Griffin remembers that during the 1950s the cemetery was cleaned several times with the surface being scraped down to bare dirt; and that Mr. Howard Mosley, a Midway Baptist Church member, made approximately 100 wooden cedar crosses to replace sand rocks and other primitive markers for the graves that were without monuments.

Zilla Rose Morgan Spencer says that most members of her family -- Inmons and Morgans and kin -- are buried here; and, to the best of her knowledge, she hasn't ever missed attending the annual Midway Memorial. Zilla and her husband Dewitt Spencer transcribed the inscriptions on the Midway monuments in April 2005. A link to this cemetery census is included here.

Listing of the Graves
in the Midway Cemetery
Compiled April 2005
by Dewitt and Zilla Spencer

The Find-A-Grave website also has a listing of these graves including photos of some of the monuments.

Listing of Graves
from Find-A-Grave

The Midway Memorial

The annual Midway Memorial has been held on the first Sunday in May as long as anyone can remember.

Midway Poem The Midway Memorial traditionally honors both the church and the memory of those who are buried in the church cemetery. Special care is taken to show the beauty of the church buildings, grounds, and cemetery for Midway Memorial day. Families usually begin decorating graves the latter part of the week before the Memorial and the day before is very busy with people arriving from all over the area to decorate family graves.

Midway Memorial 2012 Griffin
The official memorial service is held in the church sanctuary which continues the Memorials held on this site for well over 150 years. A committee is formed each year to plan the service and it includes singing, praying, speeches, taking up a collection, and the Memorial address.

Midway Memorial 2013 Dinner
The much-anticipated Midway potluck "dinner on the ground" is served in the church's fellowship hall. Weather permitting, strolls through the cemetery and renewing friendships and remembering good times takes place all throughout the day.

Memorial photos by Zilla and Dewitt Spencer
The Griffin grave photo is from the 2012 Memorial, and
the dinner photo is from the 2013 Memorial

Midway Baptist Church

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