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Today is June 25, 2019

Mississippi Seen

New year, new job and a new look at Mississippi

New year, new job and a new look at Mississippi

Isaac Ross has one of the most ornate grave markers in Mississippi. It is located at his plantation, Prospect Hill in Jefferson County. He was really into new beginnings, having been in the Revolutionary War, and then giving freedom to the enslaved people on his plantation in his will. Some new beginnings have long-lasting effects. Hopefully this new year will have positive effects for us. Photo: Walt Grayson

Remember going back to school after the Christmas holidays and dating all your papers with the wrong year for a few days? New things, like new years, take a little time to get used to.

The new year was always a demarcation line for Daddy. He would say how things would “settle down” or how he could “catch up” or how things in general would be a notch or two better after the new year. I heard myself saying that same thing a few weeks ago. Dad was a good teacher.

This year will indeed be a “new year” for me. While many of my friends are retiring or have retired, I, on the other hand, am starting a new job. WJTV 12 in Jackson has asked me to join their organization with the idea to solidly reaffirm WJTV’s position of being “Mississippi’s Television Station,” as opposed to just being another generic TV outlet. 

So we are making the extra effort to seek out and find the things of interest to those of us who live here, and make that emphasis on “home” our station’s overarching personality. And I get to do a lot of that seeking and reporting.

The photograph that accompanies this article is of Isaac Ross’ grave marker at Prospect Hill Plantation near Red Lick in Jefferson County, which is near Lorman, which is south of Port Gibson, which is between Natchez and Vicksburg.

There is a whole long story about Isaac Ross freeing his slaves in his will with the stipulation that Prospect Hill be sold and the proceeds used to send the freed slaves “back to Africa.” I put that in quotes because by that time the enslaved population in the United States had been here for quite a while, several generations, and most had never seen Africa. But Isaac Ross is another story we will get to later in the year. I plan to make another visit to the old house at Prospect Hill. I’m curious about the progress of its restoration.

However, Ross’ grave marker reminded me of the Revolutionary War’s influence on Mississippi. He was a Revolutionary War veteran. I will occasionally run across Revolutionary War era graves here. But since it was fought so far away, as you would imagine, its veterans’ graves aren’t all that common in Mississippi. Not like Civil War graves.

But perhaps the biggest influence the Revolution had on this area back then was the number of people who were loyal to Britain who relocated into the South West Mississippi Territory to get away from the East Coast, where the war was being fought. As you might imagine, loyalists weren’t the most popular people in the colonial neighborhoods.

Now, other than the occasional grave marker, there are at least two present-day souvenirs of the Revolution in Mississippi. The names of two men who fought in the war are associated with two towns in our state. And the two men were actually associated with each other in the war.

Nathanial Green, for whom Greenville is named, was a major general in the Revolutionary War. But Green might have just been a footnote in history had it not been for Tadeusz Kosciuszko, for whom Kosciusko is named. Kosciuszko mapped the fords of the rivers in front of Green’s army in North Carolina, allowing Green to leave English Gen. Cornwallis empty handed and with no supplies.

The Revolution was a new beginning with long-lasting ramifications. Keep that in mind as we make and keep our resolutions. Some of them could be new starts that last the rest of our lives.

Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television, and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Contact Grayson at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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