Gerenton Cemetery


Description of Gerenton from W.P.A. Files, 1936-1938.  Carroll, County, Mississippi.



Old Gerrington, eight miles from Vaiden, was settled by a man named McLemore.  He was very wealthy, owned quite a bit of land, and his home, built here in 1850, is still standing.  Claib. Nelms, Dr. Sanders, and Dr. Gerring, were the next homesteaders.


A general merchandise store, drug store, school, and a Baptist Church were soon built here.


Gerrington lacked only one vote of being selected as the state capital. [Ed. Note:  This was told to the W.P.A. Researchers by Mr. J.M. Wright of Vaiden, MS, during the W.P.A.’s report in the 1930s.  It is incorrect.  Middleton was thought to have missed becoming the state capital by only seven or eight votes.]


Description of the Gerenton School from W.P.A. Files, 1936-1938.  Carroll County, Mississippi.


Old Gerrington, located eight miles northwest of Vaiden, was established about 1846, as nearly as can be ascertained.


The building was an old dwelling consisting of two rooms, but later the partition was removed, making one large room.  Miss Lizzie McCarroll was the first teacher, and, McGuffey’s Reader, writing, Davies’ Arithmetic, and Webster’s Blue Book Speller were the studies.  Some of the prominent citizens who attended this school were Tom and Bill Hamilton, John Daton (or Deaton), Frank and Jennie Hawkins.  This school was abandoned during the War Between the States.


Source:  Mississippi Department of Archives; Carroll County Cemetery Records and Carroll County Mississippi Census of 1860.


Directions to this cemetery are vague, but are listed as: “Leave Carrollton Courthouse on Highway 35, and go south about 9 miles.  The cemetery is northeast of this point about 3 miles.”  One map alludes to the fact that Gerenton might have occasionally referred to as Summerville, named after the school that was located there.  There is no listing for Summerville on the U.S. Geological Survey, although there is a listing for Summerfield Church, which, according to the U.S. Geological Maps, is the same location.  The name on the map listed in the text above was possibly misspelled, or the Survey has the name listed incorrectly.  There is also a listing for a Summerfield Cemetery, located in the same vicinity.  Summerfield Church is listed at Bailey Lake at a latitude of 33 degrees 24 minutes and 06 seconds North and a longitude of 089 degrees 49 minutes and 53 seconds West, as seen in the following images: Image 1     Image 2     Image 3.  Summerfield Cemetery is listed also at Bailey Lake at a latitude of 33 degrees 24 minutes and 07 seconds North and 089 degrees 49 minutes and 56 seconds West, as seen in these images: Image 1     Image 2     Image 3.


Another Map Showing Gerenton’s Location


Another source, the W.P.A. Files of 1936-1938 list Bryantville as the town that was formed from Old Gerenton around 1900.  According to these files, Bryantville, located in approximately the same location as the town of Gerenton, became extinct around 1920.  Although the exact latitude and longitude of Gerenton are not listed on the U.S. Geological Survey site, Bryantville’s coordinates as listed as being located at Bailey Lake with an altitude of 420 feet, and geographic coordinates of 33 degrees 23 minutes 35 seconds North and 089 degrees 49minutes 26 seconds West, as seen on these images: Image 1     Image 2.  The U.S. Geological Survey also lists alternate names for Bryantville as Gayden, Geren, Geren’s Crossroads, and Gerenton.


On August 16, 2000, I visited the Gerenton Cemetery, thanks to Bob Ellis of Winona.  According to Mr. Ellis and his research, although the Gerenton Cemetery has only 10 known markers, these markers were set apart from the rest of the cemetery.  This smaller plot contains the markers indicated in the list below.  It is estimated that several hundred people are buried in Gerenton Cemetery,  however there are NO markers on the graves in the location of the main cemetery which, according to one source, was approximately two-acres in size.  In the past, old cemeteries  were robbed of their markers to be used for resale to grieving families.  The robbers had the markers’ names removed and new names were added in order to be resold.  It is believed that the main portion of the Gerenton Cemetery was robbed of every marker.  According to my personal research of the Carroll County Mississippi Census of 1860, Gerenton lists approximately 293-312 residents (168 White Males and 144 White females).  Of those, one was blind (age 46), one was deaf and dumb (age 11), and one was listed as a pauper (age 10).  It is unclear why the census would list a 10-year-old as a pauper, except that no one else on the Gerenton census had the same last name, indicated that this youngster possible was adopted, or own his own.  Since the Census of 1860 only covers FREE INHABITANTS, no colored persons were listed.  After examining the Carroll County Censuses of 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, the 1860 census is the only one that lists Gerenton, indicating that the town’s life as a “voting precinct” was short-lived.  Here are two of the eight pages of the Gerenton 1860 Census:  Page 13Page 14


The 1860 U.S. Census for Gerenton, MS, is on Roll 578, call # MM312.09; micro copy M653, 4th Police District of Carroll County, is located in the Mississippi Department of Archives, and, from the microfilm, indicates that this information is contained on Pp. 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 24, 26, and 41 of the 1860 Carroll County Census Books. The Real Estate valuation for all inhabitants listed on the census is $283,370.00 and the Personal Estate valuation is $704,050.00.  The totals on the census were taken from the highest number listed as some pages had been recalculated by the enumerator, who marked through the old totals and wrote the corrected totals below the original figures. 


Some names and occupations were very hard to read, due to the enumerator’s handwriting, but family names in Gerenton included the following (the names with a ? beside them indicate possible error in the interpretation of the handwriting):


Anderson, Baskerville, Baskins, Billingsley, Bragby/ Bregby?, Collins, Colmery?, Compton, Davis, Duren, Durham, Gaden, Gardner, Gee, Gisdell, Gooding, Gosey, Grear, Gunn, Hamilton, Holman, Howell, Jackson, Johnson, Kelly, Kendall, Mahony, Marshall, McCaskill, McKinney, Miniard, Nail, Nelms, Perkins, Pullen, Purnell, Rogers, Ross, Russell, Saunders, Stafford, Stafford, Stedman, Stone, Trotter, Ward, Wells, Whitehead, Wood, Wright, Young, Yumerrtine?.  Note that the founder of Gerenton, Abraham Geren, (or anyone listed at the bottom of this page) is not listed on this census, due to the fact that everyone on the list at the bottom of this page was deceased by the time of the 1860 Census.  Of those 10, Abraham Geren was the last to die.


As listed on the 1860 Census, families of Gerenton were originally from Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, and New Hampshire.  In addition, one resident was born in a foreign country and 88 children were enrolled in schools during that time.


The town of Gerenton was located about 1 to 2 miles away from the cemetery, according to Mr. Ellis.  Several years ago, he visited the Gerenton Cemetery location with a Colored Gentleman, who remembered the details of the cemetery before its desecration.  At present, plans are underway to transfer this videotape to a .mpeg file, to be stored on CD-ROM for archival purposes.  If anyone reading this knows the person or persons responsible for the desecration of the Gerenton Cemetery and the removal/resale of the markers, please inform the Carroll County Mississippi’s Sheriff’s Office at 662.464.5221, or contact the Carroll County 2nd District Courthouse at 662.464.5476. 


The CORRECT directions to the cemetery are as follows (as of August, 2000): 


From Vaiden, go north on Highway 51 about 7 or 8 miles until you see Gum Branch Road on the left (this road is 4 miles south of Winona, and coming from Winona, it will be on your right).  This is a dusty, winding, dirt road.  Turn west on Gum Branch (going north, you will turn left; going south, you will turn right) and follow the road, keeping to the left at every fork.  After exactly 3.6 miles, you will cross Gum Branch Creek (there are no signs, only a small bridge).  There is a cattle gap on the left (the first road past the bridge).  Gerenton Cemetery is in this area, but you will need to walk, or have a Four-Wheel-Drive to get through the ruts.  Finding the gravesite will take a lot of time, because of the undergrowth.  Simply stay on the little rutty roads until you see a yellow stake about 5 feet tall.  It is on the corner of the road that goes past the gravesites.  Turn at the yellow stake and go approximately 100 to 200 yards until you see pine trees with orange markers (ribbons) on them.  The gravesite is within this thicket.  If you keep going past the cattle gap, and stay to the left at every fork, Gum Branch Road turns into Carroll County Road 278, which comes out on Hwy. 35, about 7 miles west of the I-55 bridge at Vaiden.


The second, and LEAST DESIRABLE ROUTE, is as follows (as of August, 2000):


From Vaiden, go west on Highway 35.  From the Interstate 55 Bridge, go about 7 miles until you see Carroll County Road 278.  This is a winding dirt road, and, going west (toward Carrollton) on Highway 35, the road will be on your right.  Follow this dirt road approximately 3.1 miles, bearing to the right at each fork.  This is Gum Branch Road.  You will see a cattle gap on the right.  This is the entrance to the Gerenton Cemetery site.  Take a cell phone and plenty of water with you.  It is extremely hard to find these graves.  However, plans are also underway to clear as much of the area as possible and to restore as much as possible of the remaining cemetery site.


Possible Location of the Gerenton Cemetery via Aerial Photos and GPS


Image 1       Image 2       Image 3








Although I did not find all of the markers listed below on the August 16, 2000 visit, the list below was taken from the Carroll County Cemetery Records as documented by Ethel Bibus of Carrollton, MS.


Abraham Geren – 03/10/1781 – 09/17/1859 - Age: 78 years 6 months 7 days


Marker Photo 1Marker Photo 2Marker Photo 3


Geren Family Plot


Apphia Adelaide Geren – 09/25/1831 – 08/07/1854 - Age: 22 years 10 months 13 days


Marker Photo 1Marker Photo 2Marker Photo 3Marker Photo 4



Fontaine DeGraffenried McLemore, Son of J. D. and S. A. McLemore – 11/11/1856 – 12/25/1857 - Age: 1 years 1 months 14 days


Marker Photo 1Marker Photo 2Marker Photo 3Marker Photo 4



Simeon G. Geren – 02/19/1808 – 07/19/1850 – Died at 42 years, 5 months


Marker Photo 1



Bettie S. McLemore, Daughter of D. and E. S. McLemore – 04/26/1842 – 02/04/1850 – Aged 7 years, 9 months, 8 days



John M. Sanders, Son of Dr. J. F. and S. R. Sanders (or Saunders) – 12/26/1852 – 09/06/1858 - Age: 5 years 8 months 11 days



Sarah A. Tyson, Wife of Aaron Tyson – 09/03/1822 – 07/06/1855 - Age: 32 years 10 months 3 days


Marker Photo 1Marker Photo 2



John Dabney McLemore – 08/03/1818 – 06/28/1880 - Age: 61 years 10 months 25 days


Marker Photo 1Marker Photo 2


Photo 1 of John D. McLemore was taken in Memphis, TN, by Y. Day, 338 Main Street and has no date.


Photo 2 of John D. McLemore was taken by Washburn Photographer, 109 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA.


Photo 3 of John D. McLemore was taken by Washburn Photographer,109 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA.


All negatives preserved since 1864.  Photos Courtesy of Baird Moor.



Photo of Sarah (Sallie) Ann Geren  (John D. Mclemore’s Wife)


Joseph H. Hall – 06/03/1823 – 08/03/1856 – Died at 33 years, 2 months



Lizzie W. Davis, Wife of Dr. M. G. Davis – 03/21/1837 – 03/23/1884 - Age: 47 years 0 months 2 days


Marker Photo 1





Photo 1Photo 2Photo 3Photo 4Photo 5


Mason MarkerMonument ManufacturerMap of Gerenton Road


Marker Manufacturer Kent & Fuller, St. Louis, MO – Advertisement 1       Advertisement 2


Addie McLemore Wedding Announcement (out of focus)


Addie McLemore Photo (front)


Jeff McLemore Photo 1Jeff McLemore Photo 2


(Jeff was the son of J.D. McLemore (Addie McLemore’s brother) and husband of Mollie Watkins of Carroll County)


Photo of Jeff and Mollie Watkins McLemore



Photo of Ethel BibusGerenton Cemetery List



Gerenton Information


Source:  Mississippi Department of Archives; Gerenton Subject Files, and Mr. and Mrs. Bob Ellis of Winona, MS.


Subject Files, Page 1Subject Files, Page 2Subject Files, Page 3


Map Showing Location of Gerenton


Choctaw Session Map


Affidavit from Price P. McLemore (son of J.D. McLemore) dated June 1869 pledging support for re-admission as a citizen of the United States







Webmaster Note: The information below is not thought to be 100% accurate. Those statements that are known to be inaccurate are highlighted in brackets ([ ]).



Located in Carroll County to the east of present day Coila and south of Middleton/Winona, this town was settled in 1832 by Colonel [J.]D. McLemore, followed by settlers Nelms, Sanders, Abrahams and Geren, the town being named for the Gerens. Other settlers followed with a general merchandise store, an apothecary, a school and a Baptist church being established.


[Early records indicate that Gerenton missed being selected as the state capital by only one vote.]


At the outset of the Civil War, two of the most prominent men in the state lived there: Colonel John Dabney McLemore and Major Frank Hawkins. Colonel McLemore was said to be the largest property taxpayer in the state, and Major Hawkins reputed to be the wealthiest man in the state. Colonel McLemore maintained residences in Franklin, Tennessee, Coffeeville and Gerenton, Mississippi, and New Orleans, and was a business associate of Andrew Jackson. Major Hawkins was a direct line descendant of the Hawkins admiralty that defeated the Spanish Armada. His ancestors in Warren County, North Carolina were publicly recognized as "the finest family in North Carolina".


The Gerenton Cemetery was said to be the prettiest little cemetery in Mississippi, containing over 150 magnificent monuments and 500 graves surrounded by a beautiful wrought iron fence, with members of some of Carroll County's oldest and finest families being buried there.


Apparently, following the transition many small Mississippi settlements experienced, people moved to the newer towns where railroads, new commerce and hopefully more opportunity abounded. [The Gerenton post office closed around the time of World War II and the town died.]




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