by Tim Harrison
The DeSoto County book of cemetery inscriptions, both the 1983 and 2006 versions, contain a listing of graves in a small cemetery known as Perry Cemetery.1 The cemetery is actually south of the DeSoto County line in Tate County, but just barely, and those buried in the cemetery had close ties to DeSoto County. After all, Tate County was formed largely from the southern half of DeSoto in 1873.
Grave stones generally give no more than the bare facts about an individual’s life. On occasion there is additional information, such as place of birth, date of marriage, military service, etc. This article attempts to provide more information about the few people interred in this cemetery.
Perry Cemetery is located on the west side of Smith Road, approximately one-half mile south of the DeSoto-Tate County Line Road. Tradition indicates that there was once a church close to the cemetery, but the church was destroyed by a cyclone many years ago. The cemetery is nicely maintained, but there are probably additional unmarked graves where either the grave stone has fallen and been covered over or no stone was erected. The families represented are: Massey, Hurt, Miller, Howell, Snell, Stone, Newberry and Perry, with the majority belonging to the Massey family. Thus, the Masseys will be listed first.
In the late 1830’s four Massey brothers (James Madison, William Henry, Allen Alonzo and Joseph Benjamin) relocated from Lancaster Co., South Carolina to the southern half of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Three of the brothers remained, while a fourth (William Henry) moved on to Upshur County, Texas in the 1850s and died there in 1867. It is generally accepted that the first ancestor of these Masseys to come to North America was John Massey, Sr. (1616 – 1666), who arrived at Shirley Hundred, Virginia in 1636 from England. His son, John Massey, Jr. (1650 – 1720’s) is known to have fathered at least three sons. It is from the middle on, Joseph Massey, Sr. (@1690 – 1760) that these four brothers are descended. He had fourteen children. The eighth, William Massey, was grandfather of the Massey brothers buried in Perry Cemetery. It was William (1743 – 1841) who moved to Lancaster County, South Carolina just prior to the Revolutionary War. He was a patriot, held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st South Carolina Regiment for a time, and was Muster Master General for the state. He was captured at Charleston, South Carolina when the city was surrendered in May 1780 and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of the British. William was also a member of the 2nd Provincial Congress for the District Eastward of the Wateree (Catawba) River. (There is a government marker about William's service in the Massey-Cureton graveyard in the Waxhaw District, Lancaster Co., SC.)
The Massey Brothers’ father was Joseph Massey, sixth child of William Massey and Elizabeth Rives. He was born in 1773 in Brunswick Co., Virginia and married Martha Hood in Lancaster County in 1806. He died there in 1836, the father of six children, the four brothers previously mentioned and two daughters: Elizabeth Anna Massey (1811 – 1884), who married John McCollough Spratt and lived in DeSoto for a time before moving on to Upshur Co., Texas, and Jane Artimesia Massey (1814 – 1891), who married Alex Carnes Dunlap and remained in Lancaster County the remainder of her life. During the War of 1812 Joseph Massey was appointed to drill and form companies of men for the war.
The information contained below consists of the information from the tomb stone and then additional information from other sources. Hopefully this will give a better picture of the “inhabitants” of Perry Cemetery.
Frank C. Massey – October 21, 1899 – June 28, 1901. Son of H. M. and M. E. Massey. Youngest child Hugh Madison Massey and Martha E. (“Mattie”) Hurt. Listed in 1900 Census, Tate Co., MS p. 114A. (See below).
Mattie E. Massey – March 5, 1859 – December 26, 1906. Wife of Hugh Madison Massey. She was born Martha E. Hurt in Lunenburg Co., VA. Her parents were Alfred H. Hurt (b. 1822) and Sarah E. Farmer (b. 1830), his third wife. She was the youngest of eight children born to this couple. The Hurt family was in Panola County, MS in 1860 and DeSoto in 1870. She married Hugh Madison Massey in 1879 in Tate County. She was the mother of seven children.
H. M. Massey – October 20, 1852 – April 15, 1939. Hugh Madison Massey was the husband of Martha E. Hurt. He was born in DeSoto County, MS. He was the fifth child of Joseph Benjamin Massey and Nancy Spratt. He and his wife were the parents of seven children: S. B. (1880), Madison Hugh (1884), Willie (1886), Sterling Andrew (1889), Lawrence Leonard (1892), Sarah (Sallie) (1895), and Frank C. (1899). The family is listed in the 1900 Census, Tate Co., MS p. 114A (Palestine).
James M. Massey – November 30, 1808 – May 10, 1893. James Madison Massey was one of the four Massey brothers to settle in the area in the late 1830s. He was born in Lancaster County, SC, the eldest child of Joseph Massey and Martha Hood. He married Hettie Shanks Spratt on December 31, 1835 in Lancaster Co., SC. He is listed in the 1840 Census, DeSoto Co., p. 18, and was the owner of 13 slaves. According to Historical Southern Families, Vol. XVIII, he was appointed Captain of the Chickasaw Volunteer Regiment on March 17, 1840. He and his wife were the parents of at least seven children: James Spratt (1838), Elizabeth Greer (1840), William Henry (1842), Joseph Benjamin (1847), John Madison (1849), Nancy Jane (1851), and Allan Drew (1853). The family is listed in the 1850 (p. 339B), 1860 (p. 96), and 1870 (p. 150B) DeSoto Census records, and in Tate County in 1880 (p. 253D). In the 1860 Slave Schedule he is listed as owning 16 slaves. His will was probated in Tate County. Three letters he wrote in the late 1830s are posted on the Tate County Genealogy web site: http://tate.msgenweb.org/letter.htm#Spratt. While he did not serve during the Civil War, two of his sons were Confederate soldiers: James S. Massey, Co. I, 29th Mississippi Regiment, died October 29, 1862; William H. Massey, Co. D, 44th Mississippi Regiment.
Hettie S. Massey – February 15, 1817 – March 28, 1905. Hettie Shanks Spratt was born Lancaster County, SC, the daughter of Andrew Spratt, Jr. and Esther Shanks. She married James Madison Massey in Lancaster County in 1835. (Her brother, John McCollough Spratt, married James M. Massey’s sister, Elizabeth). The family moved to DeSoto County, MS just prior to 1840. In the 1900 Census, Tate Co., p. 113A, she is living with her son, John, and his family. Her children are listed under James M. Massey (above).
Nancy E. J. W. Massey – January 11, 1822 – February 23, 1890. Nancy Elizabeth Jane White Spratt was born in Lancaster County, SC, the daughter of Andrew Spratt, Jr. and Nancy Elizabeth Jane White Wrenn. She was the younger half-sister of Hettie Spratt and John M. Spratt, both of whom also married into the Massey family. She married Joseph Benjamin Massey in Lancaster County, SC on February 9, 1844 and then moved to DeSoto County shortly thereafter. She was the mother of at least 10 children: Mary Jane (1844), Hettie A. (1846), Sarah E. (1848), Allen Alexander (1850), Hugh Madison (1852), Robert William (1855), Virginia (1856), Joseph Benjamin (1857), Susan Eugenia (1859), and Martin A. (1861).
J. B. Massey – November 27, 1820 – April 11, 1884. Joseph Benjamin Massey was born in Lancaster County, SC, the youngest child of Joseph Massey and Martha Hood. He appears to have been living with his brother, William, in the 1840 DeSoto Census, p. 23. He married Nancy E. J. W. Spratt in Lancaster Co., SC in 1844 and the two settle in DeSoto County thereafter. The family is listed in the 1850 (p. 339B), 1860 (p. 97) and 1870 (p. 152A) DeSoto County census records, and in 1880 Tate County census records, p. 253C. According to the 1860 Slave Schedule, he owned 19 slaves. J. B. Massey served as a Confederate soldier in Co. D, 18th Mississippi Cavalry, from 1864 – 65. His will was probated in Tate County.
James C. Massey – October 19, 1884 – August 5, 1889. Son of D. G. & H. D. Massey. James C. Massey was born in Tate County, the son of David Greer Massey and H. Delanie Munn (or Munns). David Greer Massey, born February 1852 in DeSoto County, the son of Allen A. Massey and Susan Tillery Greer. He married H. Delanie Munns in Tate County on January 23, 1879. She was born July 1854, the daughter of Marshall H. and Ad Eliza White Hale Munns. Marshall H. Munns was a Confederate veteran, serving in Co. C, 2nd Mississippi Partisan Rangers (Ballentine’s). Delanie Munns Massey died in 1919 and David G. Massey died in 1939. Both are buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Tate County.
Henry Clarence Massey – November 17, 1865 – July 9, 1911. Born in DeSoto County, the son of Allen A. Massey and Susan Tillery Greer. He never married. He is listed in the 1900 Tate Census, p. 113A and the 1910 Tate Census, p. 122A living with siblings. He was a farmer by occupation.
Allen A. Massey – February 20, 1817 – May 9, 1900. Father. Allen Alonzo Massey was born in Lancaster County, SC, fifth child of Joseph Massey and Martha Hood. He was living in DeSoto County prior to 1840, and is listed in that census under his elder brother, James M. Massey. He married Susan Tillery Greer in DeSoto on December 14, 1842. Allen and Susan were the parents of at least ten children: Martha E. (1844), Julia (1845), James M. (1847), David Greer (1852), Susan Ophelia (1853), Mary E. (1855), Nancy F. (1857), Allenia (1859), William Joseph (1861), and Henry Clarence (1865). He is listed in the 1850 (p. 339A), 1860 (p. 97), and 1870 (p. 266A) DeSoto census records and in 1880 (p. 253C) in Tate County. There is no record of his having served during the Civil War. According to the 1860 Slave Schedule, he owned 15 slaves. His will was probated in Tate County.
Susan T. Greer – February 4, 1821 – October 23, 1882. Susan Tillery Greer was born in Mississippi, the daughter of James Greer and Elizabeth Morgan. Both parents were born in 1795 and both died about 1850. James Greer is listed in the 1840 DeSoto Census, p. 18, the same page as James M. Massey and E. T. Perry, also buried in this cemetery. Susan Greer married Allen Massey in 1842 and was the mother of at least ten children (see above).
Mary E. Massey – March 21, 1855 – September 2, 1858. Daughter of Allen A. and Susan T. Massey. Sixth child of Allen and Susan. (See above).
S. B. Massey – November 16, 1880 – December 22, 1883. Son of H. M. and M. H. Massey. Eldest child of Hugh Madison Massey and Martha E. Hurt. (See above).
Allen D. Massey – December 16, 1853 – April 22, 1878. Allen Drew Massey was the youngest child of James Madison Massey and Hettie Spratt. He never married. He is living with his parents in the 1870 DeSoto census and listed as “farm laborer.”
Joseph Benj. Massey – died August 9, 1853, age 6 years, 1 mo., 7 days. Son of James Madison Massey and Hettie Spratt. Born July 2, 1847 in DeSoto County. He is listed in the 1860 DeSoto Census, p. 96. (See James M. & Hettie Massey, above).
Joseph Henry Massey – February 10, 1874 – August 23, 1912, son of Wm. H. and Josie Massey. William H. Harrison married Josie Miller on December 12, 1865 in DeSoto County. William H. Harrison was the son of James M. Massey and Hettie Spratt. He died September 27, 1877. Josie Miller is Margaret A. J. Miller, born about 1848 in Tennessee according to the 1870 DeSoto Census, p. 150B. She appears to be the daughter of Westley and Sarah Miller, listed in the 1850 Knox County, TN census, p. 160A. Joseph Henry’s siblings were: Mattie (f) (1867), Anna (1868), Sula (1870).
William Hollis Massey – February 5, 1925 – August 31, 1993. Son of Madison Hugh Massey (1884 – 1964) and Junie Irene Craddock (1887 – 1970), both buried in Greenleaf Cemetery. He is the grandson of Hugh Madison Massey and Martha E. Hurt (see above). He is listed with his parents and siblings in the 1930 Tate County census (p. 179B).
Earl Raymond Hurt – January 9, 1896 – July 18, 1916. Brother. Son of Josephus Hurt (1855 – 1912) and Rebecca Smith (1857 – 1939) who married in Desoto County on September 28, 1879. He was the seventh of at least eight children born to that couple. His siblings were Della (1880), Sara (1882), Annie (1883), William Alfred (1887), Mattie (1891), Richard (1894), and Onio (1898). He was the nephew of Alfred Haskin Hurt, also buried in the cemetery. (See below).
Susan Ophelia Hurt – March 21, 1853 – June 23, 1904. Born Susan Ophelia Massey, daughter of Allen A. Massey and Susan T. Greer. She married Alfred Haskin Hurt January 20, 1872 in DeSoto County. According to the 1900 Tate County Census (p. 113A), she was the mother of 12 children, only five of whom were living at that time. The names of seven of these children are known: Anna (abt. 1876), Emma (abt. 1877), Alfred (abt. 1878), Julia (1878), Henry Sterling (1885), Virginia (1887), and Linton A. “Bud” (1893).
Henry Sterling Hurt – March 25, 1885 – August 23, 1907. Son of Alfred Haskin Hurt and Susan Ophelia Massey. He was list as a farm laborer on the 1900 census, still living with his parents. He never married.
Alfred Haskin Hurt – April 10, 1851 – November 4, 1936. Born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, the son of Alfred H. Hurt and Sarah E. Farmer. Married Susan O. Massey in 1872. The two had at least twelve children. (See above). His family is listed in the 1880 Desoto Census (p. 381B) and 1900 Tate Co. Census (p. 113A). He remarried about 1908 to Mrs. Ida Ragan, widow of John Ragan of Panola County. He is listed in the 1910 (p. 124A), 1920 (p. 198A & B), and 1930 (p. 179A) Tate County census records.
John B. Miller – July 3, 1831 – June 5, 1857, aged 25 yrs., 11 mos., 12 days. Born in Tennessee, the son of A. W. and Nancy Miller. Listed with his parents in the 1850 DeSoto Census, p. 336B. Never married.
Nancy A. Miller – January 18, 1811 – January 12, 1869, wife of A. W. Miller. Born in Tennessee. The 1850 DeSoto Census, p. 336B, shows her and her husband with the following five children: John B. (1831 – see above), Margaret J. (1834), William L. (1839), Sarah E. (1842), and James C. (1844). The family is also listed in the 1860 DeSoto Census, p. 101, around Greenleaf. By then only William, Sarah and James were living at home. John was deceased and Margaret J. had married S. Whitfield Newberry on December 27, 1850. Sons William L. Miller and James C. Miller were both in Co. K, 9th Mississippi Regiment, CSA. After the war, William L. Miller married Wincy R. Edwards in November 1865 and James C. Miller married E. E. Edwards in December 1865. James and Elizabeth Miller are buried in Greenleaf cemetery. Nancy’s husband, A. W. Miller, seems to have also died prior to 1870 and may be buried in an unmarked grave in Perry Cemetery.
Nancy E. Miller – October 8, 1840 – October 15, 1851, daughter of W. S. and T. B. Miller. Born in Tennessee, the daughter of William S. and Tabitha Miller. The family is listed in the 1850 DeSoto Census, p. 336B. She appears to be the niece of A. W. and Nancy Miller. (See above). Her siblings were: Wilson T. (1842), Tabitha M. (1845), Finis W. (1846), Lewis P. (1848), M. J. (f) (1851), Elizabeth A. (1856), J. L. (m) (1857), W. S. “Fletcher” (1860), and Jerry (1862). Two of her brothers, Wilson T. and Finis W., served in the Confederate army. W. T. Miller served in Co. D, 44th Mississippi Regiment and Finis W. Miller in Co. D, 18th Mississippi Cavalry.
Mary Eliza Stone – April 8, 1848 – April 27, 1852, daughter of J. & Sarah Stone. This family must have been passing through. I was unable to identify the parents.
Elizabeth A. Howell – March 9, 1840 – October 31, 1898, daughter of James. M. and H. S. Massey. Born in DeSoto County, Mississippi. Married William P. Howell during the Civil War. (The marriage records for 1860 – 1865 were destroyed during the war). She and her husband had no known children.
W. P. Howell – Co. B, 1 Miss Cav. C.S.A. No dates. William Porter Howell was born November 1839 in Chester Co., SC, the son of Sterling P. and Mary Howell. In 1850 the family was living in Marshall County, MS (p. 278B of the census) and in 1860 they were in Lafayette Co., MS (p. 131 of the census). William served in Co. B, 1st Mississippi Cavalry (Pinson’s). He and Elizabeth are listed in the 1870 DeSoto census (p. 150B) and the 1880 Tate Co., MS census (p. 253D). He is listed in the 1900 Tate County census (p. 222B) and the 1920 Tate County census (p. 198B). His death was listed in the DeSoto County Times-Promoter on September 29, 1927 as follows:
This community was somewhat saddened Saturday on account of the death of Mr. William P. Howell, aged 87 years, who died very suddenly that morning at 4 o’clock at the home of Mr. A. H. Hurt, where he had been making his home for a number of years. He was an old Confederate veteran, and was a member of the Presbyterian church. His remains were interred in the old Perry church graveyard. Rev. A. F. Moore held the funeral services. Mr. Howell was about 88 years old, and was painfully wounded during the Civil War, being shot through the body, the shot shattering part of the hip bone on one side. He was a gallant soldier and had many friends.
Emma A. Snell – March 17, 1893 – January 1899, daughter of B. B. and Anna Snell. Even though her tomb stone says she died in 1899, the 1900 Tate County census (p. 111B) lists her among the children of Bedford and Anna Snell. Bedford B. Snell was born July 14, 1870 in Mississippi and died October 4, 1952. He is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Tate Co., MS. He married Anna Hurt in Tate County on December 31, 1891. Anna Hurt was the daughter of Alfred H. Hurt and Susan Ophelia Massey (see above). She was born February 21, 1876 in DeSoto County and died April 16, 1958. While Emma was the oldest child, she had nine siblings: Floyd (1895), Bryan (1896), Alma (1899), Jennie (1903), May (1904), Holmes (1907), Leslie (1909), Nellie (1911), and Ophelia (1913). The family is listed in the 1910 (p. 57B), 1920 (p. 62A) and 1930 (p. 55B) DeSoto County census records. Several members of the Snell family are buried in Greenleaf Cemetery. Bryan Snell was a veteran of WWI.
Mrs. Mary Perry – died February 16, 1852, age 34 years. She was born about 1817 in North Carolina and was the wife of E. T. Perry. They married about 1835. In the 1850 DeSoto Census, p. 339A, she is listed with the following children: Sarah (13), Susan (11), Amanda (10), Daniel J. (4), Newton L. (5/12).
E. T. Perry – September 15, 1813 – February 6, 1864, born Montgomery Co., NC. Listed in the 1840 DeSoto Census (p. 18), 1850 (p. 339A), and 1860 (p. 97). He and his wife, Mary, appear to have had four children. Upon his wife’s death, he remarried on June 19, 1853 to Parthenia Howard. They appear to have had one child: J. M. Perry (m) (1859). After E. T.’s death in 1864, Parthenia Perry remarried to William A. Nations on March 2, 1868.
S. W. Newberry – July 18, 1826 – March 9, 1864. S. Whitfield Newberry was born in either North or South Carolina (census records differ). He was the son of J. J. (b. about 1795) and Jane (b. about 1800) Newberry, listed in the 1850 DeSoto Census, p. 368B. Whitfield married Margaret J. Miller in DeSoto County on December 27, 1850. She was the daughter of A. W. and Nancy Miller, and was born in Tennessee on July 11, 1833. The couple had three children: Nancy J. (1852), William C. (1856), and S. Luba A. (1858). Even though he died in 1864, I have found no record of military service for Whitfield. His widow never remarried. She is listed in the 1870 DeSoto Census (p. 263B) and the 1880 Tate Census (p. 250B). She died April 22, 1881 and is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery.
1This cemetery is also listed in the Tate County Cemetery Book, with a couple of additional graves.
DeSoto County Coordinator: Tim Harrison
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