Wading Through Bolton’s History

Wade Bolton's Headstone

Danesia Hunt

Wade Bolton's Headstone

Danesia Hunt, Staff Reporter

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Would you think going to the oldest cemetery in the Mid-South on Friday the thirteenth would be spooky? You probably would. Elmwood, the oldest cemetery in the south, was founded in 1852. It is one of the most historical cemeteries in the Mid-South, and is known for the famous people buried within its walls. More than 80,000 people are buried at Elmwood and there is still space to accomodate more. Normal cemeteries have bodies scattered everywhere, but Elmwood has a distinct way of burying people. Unlike other cemeteries, Elmwood is divided into two parts: the old and the new burial grounds. The old part of cemetery has many historical people who, in one way or another contributed to America, particularly to the Mid-South. One aspect of Elmwood is its uniquely designed headstones. Some headstones detail the lives and deaths of an individual. Like many cemeteries founded around the Civil War, Elmwood was once segregated; there was no mixing of races, even in death. In fact, slaves were buried as “property” of their owners. In addition, many Confederate soldiers are buried at Elmwood. Some families of soldiers chose to have their bodies moved to veteran cemeteries; while in the process of transferring soldiers, some birthdates, names, and other important documents were lost. A truly intriguing monument is that of the Confederacy: built with donations from around the city, it belongs to nobody. The monument itself is cracked, and soon will have to be taken down for repair. The interesting part? Underneath the monument lies a time capsule contatining an original flag, pictures, and other documents that are now considered priceless. The questions is: who owns these documents and memorabilia? The most relevant of those interred at Elmwood is the renowned founder of Bolton High School, Wade Bolton, who is known for his large plantation and the famous Bolton-Dickens feud. The feud began when a slave was improperly sold to Wade Bolton, but she was technically a free woman. Bolton and Thomas Dickens could not agree on this matter, which eventually resulted in the murder of Wade Bolton. After his death, he bequeathed land and an endowment to fund the Bolton Agriculture College. In his will, Bolton set aside 1,200 acres of land to create his dream college. Bolton Agricultural College became a high school in 1911, one of only two schools to have an endowment. Furthermore, he wanted to be buried in at Hoboken Plantation, but his former wife buried him at Elmwood cemetery, taking his plot for herself. Wade Bolton has one of the most unique headstones at Elmwood, which describes his personality and style. At Elmwood, Bolton has a full-bodied statue; he is depicted as disorganized, angry, and a liar: his fingers are crossed behind his back. This was his former wife’s way of seeing his will through, but with a sarcastic twist. Elmwood’s history continues to grow every time someone new is buried

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