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Dale Family Cemetery by Sara Sheldon


A partial listing for an infamous little cemetery ,

by Sara Sheldon

Re: JAMES A HARVEY, WAGES AND McGRATH burials. (James Copeland)

I, Sara Sheldon, am the first cousin of Polly Stewart Ray who wrote the book, “Bilbo and Kin” in 1985. . Polly was born Moloie L’ese “Polly” Stewart on 6 October 1922 and she died in 1997. She was the daughter of Louie Ellis “Pinky” Stewart (1898-1963 and Beulah Mae Blab° (1901-1994 Her father was my mother’s brother, both children of Jesse Stewart (1858-1931 and Martha Ora Byrd (1864-1938). She wrote the following to me after finding the final resting place for Wages and McGrath of the Copeland Clan and what turned out to be a long-time temporary resting place for James A. Harvey who shot and killed the two at “the Battle of Harvey”. Excerpts from her letter to my mother, Verna Stewart Dillingham in January of 1996:

ANDREW JAMES HARVEY and wife, LAURA HALL HARVEY lived near Hickory Grove, according to Methodism in the Mississippi Conference by Cain, written in 1939. Hickory Grove is located slightly Southerly but mostly East of Lumberton. Is due North of Gum Pond This is in what is now the SW portion of Forrest County, Miss_ (formerly Perry County), very close to the present-day Pearl River County Line (formerly Marion County). I found a sign in a field which read: “Gail H Wages, Charles McGrath, killed in a gun battle on Red Creek in 1848, and brought here and buried” This would be very near where Andrew Harvey and Laura Ann lived at the time Harvey was killed My mother told me that at the time of the shootout, Laura was at a neighbor’s across Red Creek (not Pearl River as some have said). However, it COULD have also been Leaf River. Laura Ann continued to live in the some place or very near there as in “Methodism in the Miss. Conference” one of the circuit riders reported that he met the Widow Harvey at Hickory Grove, and she had married a Mr. Byrd (our grandfather Elijah Sherrod Byrd) who had joined the church there.

As a side note, Mrs. Hilda Hoffman of Picayune has said that JAMES HARVEY was buried at the “Old DALE” place. However, after JAMES COPELAND was tried, found guilty and hanged at Old Augusta, Miss., this is what happened to the body, according to an article at on the Internet: “After the rules and regulations required by law that of allowing the usual time for life to become extinct, Copeland was examined by the physician who had been called in, placed in a coffin, and there being no one present to claim his body, it was placed in a wagon and carried across the river and was buried on the DENTON old place. This being done on October 30, 1857, then two nights later the body was dug up by a colored man by the name of WASH DENTON, who was a runaway slave about 12 years old, and was found swimming across Leaf River and was caught by the Denton family and there he lived until he died, who tied the body across his horse and carried it to the home of DR. J. B. KENNEDY. The Negro cut all flesh off the bones then soaked them in vinegar overnight, then dried them. Then put the skeleton together with wire. The flesh was buried at the DENTON old place. Dr. Kennedy kept this skeleton until he went to a meeting and there he was killed. Then Mrs. Kennedy let Dr. McLeod at Moss Point have it, and it was kept in the drug store there until the drug store burned, and that was the last of the James Copeland skeleton.”

The HARVEY killing was printed in “The Life and Confessions of James Copeland”, written by Sheriff J. S. S. Pitts, the jailor, from information given to him by Copeland in 1857, while he was awaiting sentencing and hanging. The original book disappeared and the reproductions kept disappearing from the libraries because Copeland named too many prominent people in Mississippi. In 1980, a professor at U. S. M. located a copy of it and had it published, although many names originally listed in the book were no longer there due to lawsuits having been brought against the author.

Research is needed to learn who was actually buried where McGrath and Wages and some of the Dale family were.

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