When I first started researching Marsalis genealogy Tempe Fenn Crosby sent me a copy of a letter written in 1958 by May Fredricks Toney an early researcher and the daughter of Letha Ann Marsalis Fredricks daughter of James E. Marsalis (1821-1882)and a granddaughter of Peter H. and Mary Magdalene Gordon Marsalis. In part it says: “On Grandma Marsalis’ place (Amite, MS) there was a shed where dry oak bark was stacked high to be used for starting fires in the fireplaces. One morning ‘Grandma Marsalis’ went out before day light to get bark. She told mama: ‘The stars were falling!’ What a mystery that was to me as a child and heard mama tell about what ‘Grandma Marsalis’ told (saw). Since I grew up I have read that our earth passed through the tail of a comet about the year 1833. I am sure this was the time that ‘Grandma Marsalis’ believed that the stars were falling.” Mary Magdalene (Polly) Gordon Marsalis lived from 1784 to 1862. ……………………… Quote: The first report of a Leonids meteor storm was in 902 AD by Chinese astronomers who reported “Stars fell like rain”……. In more modern times Displays have been seen in 1799, 1833, 1866, 1966. The 1799 Storm was observed from Europe and South America. The storm vanished in the following years but gained strength again in 1831, 1832 and 1833. Between Nov12-13 1832 huge storms were observed …. An observer in Boston estimated a rate of 9000 meteors in 15 minutes! There was more to come however. In 1833, the following year, there would be another storm, probably the most dramatic ever seen. Huge displays were seen above the USA. Accounts from the time report that people fainted believing that the world was ending and dawn would bring the start of doomsday….
A group of Marsalis family members led by Bill & Marian Marsalis traveled to the Marsalis cemetery in Mississippi on March 19th, 2009. In addition to Bill and his wife, Richard Lynn Marsalis and his son Chris Marsalis from Ashland, MS helped in the effort to clear the area and see what all may lie beneath. They brought tools and cut down scrub and even some trees nearly 5 inches in diameter.
The tombstones are more in the open now and Bill thinks more graves will be found. In fact, they found a new foot stone labeled “baby” with nothing else legible. They also found several headstone bases without headstones.
Pam and Tommy Wixon also showed up at the cemetery on the 20th and brought the newly printed books to Bill Marsalis. Please look for ordering instructions on this website to appear in upcoming days as we all get setup and ready to ship.
A couple years ago I registered the domain marsalis.us with the intention of doing something like this website. So thanks Allen for getting it done! I redirected marsalis.us to this site this afternoon.
My dad, Lynn, and I met with cuz Bill and his wife Marian on 3/19 & 3/20 to make some headway on the Marsalis Cemetery project in Amite County. We spent about 6 hours in all, mainly chopping brush and felling trees. We also brought herbicide to spray on the stumps to prevent re-sprouting, and sprayed Round Up everywhere we could see weeds sprouting. We all got a good workout hauling and piling brush. We also opened up a wide pathway to the cemetery. It begins just past the abandoned mobile home in the woods. Once the brush was removed, Bill and Marian located a few more headstones and footstones which were buried in leaf litter. We’ll post “after” photos as soon as possible.
We are sorry to report that the Marsalis Cemetery in south Mississippi is in very poor shape. The cemetery contains the graves of Peter H., Polly, and many of our early Southern Marsalis ancestors. Without restoration, this cemetery could fade entirely from history. It is our desire to rebuild and preserve this landmark for future Marsalis generations.
There is no question that is that Peter H. is the patriarch of all the Southern Marsalis’ in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. It would be a shame to stand by and watch the loss of his tomb to time and the elements of nature.
Please help us by purchasing our upcoming Book or simply by making a donation. We estimate that a fence around the cemetery will cost approximately $3,000.00 or more, so we hope you will help spread the word regarding our cause. Our Order form and donation page are coming soon. Please check back or Contact Us for more information on making a donation or purchasing the book. (cover pictured to the right)
A Marsalis family reunion will be held on Saturday, June 6th in Lafayette, Louisiana at 300 E. Martial St. A list of the the attendees will be requested. Information on exact time and motels will be forthcoming. Everyone needs to bring a dish and drinks. No alcohol, since the reunion is being held at a church school’s recreation room.
Title: Sharon Marsalis
Text: according to a copy of letter written in 1959 by a great-granddaughter of Peter H. and Polly:
”My mother was Letha Ann Marsalis and she was the granddaughter of Peter and Mary (Polly) Marsalis. My mother died in 1929 but she told us many things before her death. She was born in 1848 and often visited her grandmother, Polly Gordon … I have what remains of the old family Bible of James Marsalis, son of Peter and Polly Marsalis….Peter H. was Hessian…In Amite County he was commonly called a Dutchman because he spoke English with a foreign accent. “
. Most of the sons were born in Georgia in the very early 1800s and the rest in Amite County Mississippi. The sons’ names were Ephraim, William P., Patterson, Thomas, James, and John. It is KNOWN that Thomas L. was a son of Patterson and his SECOND wife Martha Terrell.
(SM from various federal censuses and personal family data)
1807-1813: Peter H. Marsalis moved from Georgia to Mississippi along “the tree chopped way”. Ephriam was Peter H.’s oldest son, and was about seven or eight years old when they migrated. Ephriam told that “his father, Peter H. had $10,000.00 in gold, which he had placed in a sack, and then placed it in the back of the wagon. Somehow on the rough trail this sack was lost off. When Peter H. discovered that his $10,000.00 in gold was missing, he halted and rode one of his horses back about ten miles where he found the sack of gold lying in the middle of the trail. He was most fortunate that the Indians or some other traveler did not happen along before he got back.”
(SM – August 2005–quotation from “Searching for ‘Polly’” page 2.)