Little Zion M.B. Church
Money Road - Greenwood, MS
Pastor McArthur McKinley

ZionChurchHead.jpg (52514 bytes)The church property on Money Road borders the Tallahatchie River about 2 miles north of Greenwood, MS.  Thousands of graves are located within this isolated, tree lined, and peacefully secluded spot.  Pastor McArthur McKinley says it's both a blessing and a curse that the popular bluesman Robert Johnson is buried in this cemetery.  Hundreds  of people visit the cemetery and leave behind an assortment of trash, including liquor bottles, drugs, and beer cans.  Johnson,  most legendary of all the Delta Bluesmen, purportedly sold his soul to the Devil at a  crossroads in Mississippi, in exchange for superior musical ability.  Johnny Shines, before his death, stated that Robert was a religious man and the crossroads referred to in song was probably where the Southern (railroad) crosses the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley (railroad) in Moorhead, MS.  Shines stated that the selling of his soul came from all the BS stories and that Robert Johnson was just poking fun at the crossroads myth in his song, as Johnson was known for a lot of jive.

 

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On December 7, 2001, after a prolonged 10 year legal battle of ups and downs, Claud L. Johnson was named legal heir of his father's ClaudJohnson.jpg (18809 bytes) estate by The Supreme Court of Mississippi.  Claud told me that he had always known that Robert was his father.  The difficulty was proving it in the courts.  Claud also told me what the middle initial "L" stood for in both his & his father's name, but I promised never to tell anyone while outside of the Little Zion Graveyard.  If you ever run into me at the gravesite, I'll tell you the secret "Mississippi" truth!

Robert's life was one of mystery and legend, and the mystery continues in death.  In addition to the Little Zion gravesite, there are two additional gravesites!  Payne Chapel Church outside of Itta Bena boasts a site, while Mount Zion Church outside of Morgan City boasts another site.  The Morgan City site includes an impressive grave marker that was provided by Sony/Columbia records.  In 1990, Columbia Records had released "The Complete Works" of Robert Johnson.  Needless to say, the release turned into a big hit for Johnson's music.

Robert L. Johnson became known as the King of the Mississippi Delta Country Blues even though he died tragically in Baptist Town at the tender age of 27 and recorded only 29 songs in just two sessions.

 

SteveJohnson.jpg (25773 bytes) A Robert Johnson tribute was held during March-2004 that included Johnson's son, Claud, and Johnson's grandson, Steve.  After services at Little Zion M.B. Church, a special luncheon was held at Hoover's Grocery Store in Baptist Town.

  (CLICK HERE for SUMMARY)

 

 

TomEskridge.jpg (14938 bytes)Tom "Peter Rabbit" Eskridge dug Robert Johnson's grave on a hot August day in 1938 MsRosieMeeks.jpg (34985 bytes) according to Mrs. Rosie Eskridge.  Tom's wife Rosie remembers walking from the Luther Wade Plantation bringing water out for her husband to the Little Zion M.B. Church gravesite on this extremely hot day.  Both Mr. & Mrs. Eskridge are now deceased and are buried in the Little Zion Cemetery next to each other.

 

Tom's stone shows the name Eskridge mispelled with an extra letter 'E'.

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Mrs Rosie's stone shows the date of death as 7-1-2006,
however Mrs. Rosie died on 6-22-2006.

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In June-2004, two blues fans from France were married at the church.

 

RJohnsonCommSign.jpg (51420 bytes)In February-2007, The Mississippi Blues Commission erected a sign on Money Road at the entrance to the Little Zion graveyard to recognize the historical significance and impact of Robert Johnson's music.  It was subsequently stolen, and a second sign has been erected.

 

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page added 2004

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