Route 662: Backwoods Moments

It’s a small backwoods church that many would not find particularly interesting. But those folks are sadly depriving themselves of the joy of discovery.

While Beth Eden church is far from unique, it probably belongs to a category of Americana that is slowly disappearing.

When I say backwoods, I should emphasize the “woods” syllable. To arrive there one must navigate miles of piney woods north of Louisville, now largely devoid of people, and filled with natural delights. Hopefully, they came through the nearby Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge when the wildflowers sometimes make golden carpets in nearby fields. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains the 48,000 acres and interpretative information can be found here as well, making an occasional stop very educational.

But there are several other approaches, each coming through dense forests that might have resembled the land when my ancestors first settled. It was this settlement whose history I sought, that brought me here in the first place.

Long disconnected from my kin here, the modern nuclear family structure does not lend itself well to ancestral ties, lore, and cousins. But thanks to a family reunion in the area, I did experience a little of what expansive kinfolk relations could mean.

Perhaps it’s the cemetery at the little church that touched me most profoundly. Reading the names carved on the stones revealed other family relations and their origins. My particular roots include a pioneer group known as the “Black Dutch,” who settled the area after a trek from some German communities in South Carolina.

Today the cemetery, and the nearby empty ancient Masonic Building, are the last ghostly reminders of a larger community which may still survive here in part, but only in the sparsest way. The church has only simple lines and sports a bed of irises as its only decoration. But it has life; it has a Facebook page that shows pictures of its current flock, and, my favorite, images of some lovingly prepared church dinners.

Clearly, not everyone will relate to a place this way. But that doesn’t mean a visit isn’t worthwhile. Almost any county in the 662 probably has such a place or two. My hope is that these sacred spots don’t fade away, and even the casual explorer can experience a special vibe when finding one.

Some of My Kin Pose By Ancestral Stones

Irises Embellish the Scene