By Terry Harpole For the WPT
A person can be driving many places, maybe only pleasure driving or even on their way somewhere, and will be driving by some hidden, unknown or forgotten cemetery.
These cemeteries might be the burial places of many people who had many stories, and of people who meant much to the people and the communities nearby.
One example is Chigga Hill Cemetery (black) in Oktibbeha County, located off U.S. 82 about 12 miles west of Starkville near Maben in the Center Grove community. The land where this cemetery is located joins the back of Center Grove Baptist Church Cemetery (white).
Many burial places are in this cemetery, which has no monuments but does have a marker left by a funeral home and some so long ago that the writing cannot be read. Many of those, possibly, are family of some people who live in other places.
In my walk in Chigga Hill Cemetery, I always stop and notice one of the monuments, that of Spencer “Pill” Joiner, husband of Lottie Dean Joiner. Spencer Joiner is remembered by most people in this area who knew him as “Uncle Pill.” When he was a small boy his mother died and it is believed his father left.
My great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Harpole, took Joiner in his home in the Center Grove community, and there he lived with my great- grandparents and their 14 children.
Spencer Joiner’s wife, Lottie Dean Joiner, who was much younger, helped my grandparents and my parents, and was at our family home when my older brother and I were born.
My grandfather’s father, Thomas Jefferson Harpole, and his wife, Martha Jane Lewis Harpole, are buried in the Center Grove Baptist Cemetery that joins Chigga Hill Cemetery, so the Joiners are buried near people they knew and loved.
All the other people buried in this cemetery most likely could share many interesting stories, too. The local people, and most of the people who live away and have people buried in Chigga Hill Cemetery are faithful in caring and maintaining this cemetery.