For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is September 27, 2020

Mississippi Seen

First man standing

By Walt Grayson

First man standing

I’m not sure the name of the little cemetery across the road from Red Lick Baptist Church in Jefferson County. It may belong to the church, or it may be an old family plot. But whichever, it was recently cleaned up by a bunch of cousins who are descendants of one of the long-time occupants, Ephraim Woods. He died back in the 1880s, I think. I’m trying to remember if that’s what Margaret Woods Collins from Madison, Ephraim’s great-granddaughter, told me. He has no headstone, so I couldn’t read it anywhere for myself. And, I forgot to write down what Margaret said.

But no matter. Even without a headstone, Ephraim’s grave is by far the easiest in the cemetery to find. It is shaped like a head-high Indian Mound — because Ephraim is buried standing up.

Why did he want such an odd burial? Well according to Margaret, her great-granddad was a very religious person and wanted to be able to step directly out of his grave on Resurrection Day and look his maker squarely in the face. A little eccentric, perhaps.
Another cousin, J.W. Woods from Pearl River County, says he thinks his great granddad was just some kind of a weirdo.

Perhaps. But if it ends up that Ephraim is the first man standing and lends a helping hand to others struggling to climb out on That Day, then we’ll know he had the right idea all along.

Over the years, lots of people have tried to find the grave of the man standing up at Red Lick. Until the cousins chopped the cemetery out of the wilderness a few weeks ago, the cemetery itself was hard enough to find — much less the up-standing grave. 

I suppose a curious grave like that is enough of an oddity that folks would want to see it for themselves. I did a TV story about it. So, obviously I wanted to go see it. 

If you ever want to find it, the best way to do so is stop by the Old Country Store at Lorman and ask my “go-to” buddy, “Mr. D.,” how to get there. And go hungry enough to eat some of his “Best Fried Chicken in the World” while you are there. His chicken is almost good enough to raise the dead, itself.

Site designed by Marketing Alliance, Inc.