James and Martha

The graves of James Alston Hunter and Martha P. Harris Hunter are described in this news story published after the Hunter Cemetery was added to the state of Mississippi’s roster of notable grave sites. Their son Silvanus Gardner Hunter was the husband of Sarah Hannah McMullen, daughter of William McMullen and Susannah Scott, who are buried in the McMullen-Scott Cemetery.

Two Family Cemeteries in Webster County
Certified as Historic to Mississippi

The graves of James and Martha Hunter. Click the image to see it enlarged.

Two abandoned graveyards, both in District 5 of Webster County, have been awarded certificates of historical significance by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

They are the burial places of the Hunter family and the McMullen-Scott families, among the earliest pioneers in Webster and Chickasaw Counties.

Following its January 2006 meeting, the Archives board announced that the two cemeteries, neither now in use, have been approved as important in Mississippi history and have been added to a growing list.

On property that once belonged to James A. Hunter, the Hunter Cemetery is situated in woodlands to the south of Hohenlinden Road and a short distance from Cross Roads Church.

Hunter, his wife Martha P. Harris Hunter, and seven of their ten children came to the area in 1835 soon after the Choctaw and Chickasaw cessions of tribal lands. They established their farm near the community of Hohenlinden in the northern section of old Choctaw County before redrawn boundary lines created Sumner County, later renamed Webster.

Hunter was a veteran of the War of 1812. He and his wife, born Martha Harris in Warren County, Ga., are buried in plots that were once in a corner of their property. Today the graves are secluded in a room-sized space in the forest. Their tombstones are the only markers present, although depressions nearby indicate that others also are buried at this site.

The McMullen-Scott Cemetery, situated in woods on the line of Webster and Chickasaw Counties, is adjacent to the farm of Mrs. Grace Hunter.

William McMullen, who once owned 1,687 acres in Choctaw and Chickasaw Counties, arrived in the area in the 1830s. He and his wife, Susannah Scott, were devout Presbyterians and were born, as was James Hunter, in Abbeville, S. C. They were married in 1813 by the notable Dr. Moses Waddel, the master of Willington Academy and later the first president of the University of Georgia.

McMullen was the presiding elder at the founding of the Presbyterian church in Houston. His father Archibald McMullen, a native of County Antrim, Ireland, was in the huge Scots-Irish immigration to the colony of South Carolina.

The three families, intermingled by Mississippi marriages, migrated through Georgia before settling in different years in Mississippi. Both James Hunter and William McMullen died in 1844, Martha Harris Hunter in 1879.

McMullen’s tombstone, a large obelisk, is the centerpiece in the wooded graveyard. His wife Susanna Scott McMullen’s grave is not marked. Surrounding their plots are many of their departed kin, including James Scott and his wife Margaret, Samuel H. Scott and his wife Mahalie, Joseph Scott, Mary J. McMullen McGee, Mark Suggs, and Andrew J. Foster.

The families commemorated in these two cemeteries are ancestors of hundreds of descendants, including Hunters, Scotts, McMullens, Womacks, Coles, Faulkners, Henleys, Spencers, Wrights, Woffords, Hesters, Littles, Woodruffs, Hoods, Crumbys, Callahans, Peppers, Orrs, Stages, and others.

Scott McCoy, a site inspector from the Archives department of historic preservation, surveyed both cemeteries and mapped them by satellite readings.

In 1971 the state legislature passed a bill for certifying such “abandoned cemeteries.” Among the guidelines for a nomination, the bill stipulates that no burials can have occurred at the site within the past fifty years, that no future burials are planned, and that the deceased are persons “who have contributed significantly to the history of the nation, the state, or the local region.”

According to Section 39-5-19 of the Mississippi Code, these historic cemeteries can be repaired, rehabilitated, and maintained at the discretion of the county supervisor in whose beat they are located.

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