Driving south out of Vicksburg we headed for Port Gibson, and then on to the reported ghost town of Rodney, on Bayou Pierre. We had heard of this strange place from the eccentric Arthur Lasalle at Springfield Plantation. Our first intention was to stop on our way north to Vicksburg but the computer map indicated very poor roads. What an understatement. We went through Alcorn University and then onto a one lane dirt road and for miles traveled at 15 mph past deer camp after deer camp. The population decreased and we found ourselves in what could only be described as a 4 wheeler’s paradise, and then as we turned yet another narrow turn, right on the side of the road, as if he owned the place, was the first live Armadillo I had ever seen. I crept up to get a shot just before he bounded, yes, I mean bounded away into the brush. Arriving at Rodney we found somewhat to our disappointment, that there were many people living in Rodney. There were also many abandoned buildings, and much history. The historical attraction to this all but forgotten place is the First Presbyterian Church which is a stately brick building built in 1807 and served a thriving community at that time as Rodney was a supply depot for much of central Mississippi. Conspicuously in the center of the upper front of the church, is lodged a 12 lb. cannon ball. We were about to read the many historic signs that surround the church when an old car, on it’s last leg, pulled up and an even older black gentleman got out and approached us. He was soft spoken and non-intrusive as he explained that he was O.C. Wilson, 75 years old, and the oldest person still living in Rodney. He politely indicated that for a small donation he would tell us tales of the area that no one else, excluding those last donating, will ever hear. I couldn’t resist this slow speaking heavy accented fellow, and he began to tell the tale of the church. Although buried in the deep south, during the Civil War, the minister at the church was a northern sympathizer and as such made his position known among the union gunboats that prowled the river prior to the siege of Vicksburg. It was not uncommon for these gunboats to stop for Sunday services, as was the case on September 13, 1863. The local Confederate Militia, incensed at the bravado of the Union troops, slipped in and captured the attending crew. Of the Rattler. The captain, infuriated at what appeared to be a betrayal, opened fire on the church in retaliation. The final outcome is lost in the obscurity of history, but the remaining evidence is embedded halfway threw the front wall. After the war, a sand shift in the Mississippi, moved the river several miles from Rodney. Without it source of income from the river Rodney soon dried up and most moved away. O.C Wilson, then looking around as if to be sure he would not be overheard, slightly lowered his head and stated that several years ago, vandals stole the original ball, and the historical society that overseas the building replaced it with another.
We drove out of the wilderness, and back to Port Gibson late in the afternoon. The most famous building in the city is its First Presbyterian Church which is one of the oldest in the area. Atop the steeple, is a hand made gilded hand with a finger pointing to Heaven. The original was done many years ago by one of its younger parishioner, Daniel Foley
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