Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues

By William Ferris | Go to book overview

ROSE HILL

Mary “Monk” Gordon and Reverend Isaac Thomas were two of the most important leaders in the Rose Hill community, fifteen miles southeast of Vicksburg. Gordon told me that her grandmother was a slave who walked from Natchez to the Rose Hill community. She and many of Gordon’s other ancestors are buried on the hillside around Rose Hill Church.

Mary Gordon often sang church hymns while working in her garden or doing housework and was deeply attached to the history of Rose Hill Church. As a young woman, she had religious visions that she interpreted as signs that she should join the church. One of these visions foretold the birth of her daughter. She also sang a parody of preachers entitled “You Shall Be Free.” When she sang it for me, she asked that I not let Reverend Thomas hear it.

Reverend Isaac Thomas lived in Vicksburg and preached at Rose Hill Church on the first Sunday of every month. He served four churches by preaching in one each Sunday of the month. During his childhood he preached funerals for animals that died, so it was only natural that as an adult he entered the ministry. He was the last in a line of preachers who served Rose Hill Church for over 150 years. After his death, the church was used primarily for funerals of deceased members who are buried in its cemetery.

These interviews were recorded in 1974 during the filming of Two Black Churches. Mary Gordon spoke on the porch of the home of her stepmother, Amanda Gordon, and Reverend Thomas spoke from his chair behind the pulpit in Rose Hill Church.

-13-

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Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents viii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Blues Roots 11
  • Rose Hill 13
  • Lake Mary 29
  • Lorman 47
  • Centreville 57
  • Gravel Springs 67
  • Parchman Penitentiary 77
  • Tutwiler 89
  • A Delta Road in Coahoma County 98
  • Blues Towns and Cities 103
  • Leland 105
  • Clarksdale 143
  • Wokj, Jackson 160
  • Beale Street 170
  • Looking Back 175
  • Willie Dixon 177
  • B. B. King 185
  • Sacred and Secular Worlds 203
  • Rose Hill Church 205
  • Clarksdale 222
  • Epilogue 255
  • Selected Bibliography, Discography, Filmography, and Websites 259
  • Index 291
  • H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series 299
  • CD and Dvd Notes 301
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