Vardaman History Project - Poplar Springs Baptist Church Cemetery
This page is still under construction. Photos by Jim Young


Poplar Springs Cemetery 1The first Poplar Springs Baptist Church cemetery was on the hill east of the church. After eight people had been buried there, the congregation decided that the graves were right over the stream which fed the spring at the foot of the hill and voted to move the cemetery to its present location west and southwest of the church. Although there is a spring at the back of the church, down in the hollow, it was felt that the stream feeding it did not flow under the new cemetery.

The bodies in the first cemetery were moved to the new location. The first burial in the old cemetery, and one of the bodies that was moved, was a Mr. Barrentine. He had wandered into the community and Mr. Flavious Stribling had given him a home and he helped around the place. Two of the other burials there were small girls of the English family.

Poplar Springs Cemetery 3 The first burials in the new cemetery were near the church; and, as in many cemeteries, there are a number of unmarked graves. Many of these were known to Mr. Clarence Morgan who, along with his daughter Mrs. idelle Walls, some of her sons and daughters, and the daughters of his son Mr. Bennett Morgan, compiled a listing of the graves in this cemetery over several hot summer weekends. This was done in the early 1980s. Although this listing is no longer current, it continues to provide valuable information for those who are interested in this community and cemetery and a link to the alphabetized and annotated version of it (which includes information about some of the unmarked graves)is included below.

A link to the "Find-A-Grave" website is also included. This site includes photographs of many of the monuments and other interesting comments.

1980s Listing of Graves
(Alphabetized and Annotated)

Listing of Graves

A problem with the title to the land that the cemetery is on was discovered in January 1906. A Resolution offered by J.S. Morgan and adopted by the church stated: "It being developed that Poplar Springs Graveyard is on the private property of J.C. Campbell and said J.C. Campbell having agreed to exchange said land, and as much more as is needed for the Graveyard, for certain lands belonging to the Church; therefore, Be it resolved by Poplar Springs Baptist Church, in conference assembled, that we authorize the Deacons of this Church to make J.C. Campbell a Warranty Deed to the plot of land now owned by this church, and Deeded to same by Mary Ann Stribling containing about 6 and 77/100 acres. Said J.C. Campbell in return to make to this Church a Warranty Deed to a certain plot of land containing the Church Building and Graveyard, the same having been surveyed by H.W. McGuire County Sureyor 1/9/1906 and containing about 7 and 1/10 acres."

This was done, and on March 3, 1906, a Warranty Deed signed by J.C. Campbell and L.A. Campbell was filed with the Calhoun County Chancery Clerk which conveyed to the Deacons of Poplar Springs Baptist Church or their successors the land described as beginning 11 chains west of NE corner of SE 1/4 33-12-1e, thence running S 4 chains & 73 links 24 degrees west, thence running 12 chains 64 degrees W, thence running N 9 chains and 90 links, thence running E 9 chains and 32 links to place of beginning, all in 33-12-1e.

Additional cemetery land adjacent to the existing cemetery property was bought in October 1930. For the sum of $10,000, J.T. Hannaford, Alice Hannaford, and D.R. Davis sold the land "beginning at the SW corner of the present Church plot and running E 10 Rods to the New Reid and Loyd Public Road, thence in a Southwesterly direction with said road 24 rods, thence W 12 rods, thence northeasterly direction to the line of the present church plot, thence S with said line 8 rods to point of beginning. The said above described plot being in the N 1/2 of SE 1/4 33-12-1e."

A small shelter was constructed at the edge of the cemetery a few years ago and more adjacent property has been acquired recently for future cemetery expansion. There is an active cemetery association which meets after the noon dinner at the First Sunday in May singing and homecoming.


The annual all-day Sacred Harp Singing at the Poplar Springs Baptist Church was held on the first Sunday in May for over 150 years. In the years before good roads, automobiles, and other activities the church was the center of community activity. The Poplar Springs Singing was anticipated all year long and much of the sewing and dress-making through the long winter evenings were aimed at this day. On the first Sunday in May everyone was in colorful clothing, scrubbed, washed, starched, and ironed. Children, especially teenagers, tried to arrive early for a run in the cemetery and/or down into one of the springs for a drink from leaf cups.

Angel Band Sacred Harp singing dates from the early 1800s and the song books used now are the same with only minor changes from the books used in the 1800s and early 1900s. The singing is done without instrumental accompaniment and the music is printed with shaped notes. Traditionally, the singers arrange themselves in a square with the leader standing in the center. The music is in four-part harmony and many of the hymn-tunes date from the late 1700s and early 1800s in New England. The music shown here, Angel Band is one of the favorites and contemporary versions of this hymn can be heard on YouTube performed by folk and country singers. For more information about this type of singing, click on this University of Mississippi website. Among the foremost supporters in Mississippi of Old Harp singing are Dr. David Warren Steel and his wife Anne. Dr. Steele teaches music and southern culture at Ole Miss and Anne is retired from teaching Latin at Oxford Middle School in Oxford MS. They usually participate in most of the Old Harp singins in Calhoun County and have been coming to Poplar Springs for the First Sunday in May for many years.

Calhoun County continues to have Sacred Harp ("Old Harp" or just "Harp") "singings" in several of the area's rural churches. However, there are few Old Harp singers now and almost none in the younger generations. The number of those who attend just to listen has also dropped to almost none. In the last few years that the singing at Poplar Springs was conducted in both morning and afternoon, less than 10 singers showed up in the morning and only three or four listeners. Most of the people spent their time placing their food in the fellowship hall, meeting and greeting each other, and walking in the cemetery. A few more singers came in the afternoon but few if any more listeners attended.

The First Sunday in May tradition at Poplar Springs continues, although the Sacred Harp singing now takes place only in the afternoon with a more standard worship service held in the morning, and the potluck "dinner-on-the-ground" has moved inside to the fellowship hall. Graves are cleaned and decorated and the Friday and Saturday before the homecoming are busy with cemetery activity.

Singing1 Singing2

Delicious home-made food, renewing friendships, and meeting near and distant cousins, some for the first time, make the noon meal a real pleasure.

Churches and Cemeteries

Table of Contents