Tripping Back to Teoc’s Waverly Plantation and Mitchell Springs Cemetery

Welcome to Mitchell Springs, center for the gatherings at Teoc every two summers

Welcome to Mitchell Springs, center for the gatherings at Teoc every two summers

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Writer Elizabeth Spencer in Teoc, 2008, with fellow reunion member James Richmond of San Antonio, Texas. Her mom was a McCain from Teoc.

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At the Teoc reunion July 2008, Frank Bryant, then 91, and fellow reunion member on the grounds of Mitchell Springs Church, Theresa McCain, say hello.

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Also from 2008, U. S. Senator (R-AZ) John McCain’s brother, Joe McCain, was a reunion member at Teoc, Miss., too.

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Former McCain Plantation – Teoc family folks were with me in a cornfield near Mitchell Springs Church in July 2008 — the year U. S. Senator (R-AZ) John S. McCain was running for the GOP nomination in the presidential race — and they tried to convey the location of the old McCain (colored) school and church: about where that tall tree is spreading up and beyond, see?

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In addition to visiting at the Mitchell Springs Church in July 2008, folks toured the old hillside cemetery used for generations of African-Americans who lived on Teoc Plantation and nearby. Here, Verdie Moorehead and Willie J. Johnson take a look. A proper sign has since been erected, and instead of “McCain Cemetery” this site, which hopefully is being kept clearer than in the past, bears the name “Mitchell Springs Cemetery. Some say “Spring”.

TRIPPING BACK TO TEOC IN TIME: One of the old-timers said for anybody in Greenwood, everything off Hwy. 7 past the Carroll County line is “Teoc”. Yet, while Teoc covers a ranging area, and there’s the Delta and Hills all in Teoc, there are other communities in western Carroll County that have other names! Some controversy involved … yet, every other year, when those who live in Teoc, or whose roots were within this ancient neighborhood, and associates decide to have a homecoming or reunion, they KNOW! In 2008 I went to the party and took a tour after the gathering around and inside the Mitchell Springs Church. I had been taking the “tour” of points of interest off and on, and on my own, for many years since my return to Carroll County September 1985. The old cemetery clinging to the wooded and weed-choked hill right next to the road; the remains of the McCain-Spencer Store; the old Long-Meeks house; croplands; the standing chimney where the community house was, near the Teoc Creek; on past the cemetery, the ruins of the McCain house, outbuildings, the storm cellar where Joe McCain died; heading on past the springs and connecting to the road to the north, heading in one direction to Avalon, or the other, up Valley Hill into the Valley Community and off that, before reaching the Valley Store, the St. James Church Road where Mississippi John Hurt and his kith and kin are buried. Where so many structures and lives co-existed over decades now vanished, more or less. Some of the reunion members stopped at the Valley Store and had pictures made with the Miss. Blues Trail Marker honoring John Hurt — after all he was one of them; his mother, Mary Jane McCain Hurt, had been a slave on Waverly Plantation, or Teoc, as a youngster and later was a freedman apprentice. There were and are “white McCains” and “black McCains”, and all pretty well spoken and part of this place no matter how long and far away …. U. S. Senator John S. McCain, R-AZ, has roots here, and he lived and went to the old one-room schoolhouse on the other side of Teoc Creek from Mitchell Springs Church, back in the 1940s, when his father was doing submarine duty. There were also trips back to Teoc during his formative years. Recently, Dr. Tim Smith, giving a talk about U. S. Senator J. Z. George inside the courtroom of the 1876 Carroll County Courthouse, suggested adding a portrait of McCain to the gallery that already includes two senators from Carroll County — George and H. D. Money — wouldn’t be out of place! A portrait of Greenwood Leflore is also in the courtroom: he was a state elected official but was also the “last great chief of the Choctaw Nation east of the Mississippi River”.

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