Meridian, Mississippi

Day 1311

     After spending 119 days, 18 hours, 34 minutes, and 11 seconds quarantined, we are again on the road. The only casualty was our frog mascot who lost his head in the violent storm 2 days ago.

     We were one of the last to leave this usually full, 260 site RV park.

     On our way to Indiana, our first stop is Meridian, Mississippi. 

     Previously inhabited by the Choctaw Indians, the area now called Meridian was obtained by the United States in 1830 during the period of Indian removal.

     The Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway of Mississippi crossed at what was to become Meridian, Mississippi. The town was chartered in 1860 and built an economy based on the goods supplied by the railroads. Its name was chosen because the townspeople wrongly thought it was synonymous with “junction”.

     Ten years after the town’s founding, Weidmann’s restaurant was opened by Swiss immigrant Felix Weidmann (I wonder if he was documented?). It was first established in the Union Hotel,

now the visitor center, where I got a lot of this information. In 1923 the restaurant was moved to 22nd Avenue where we ate lunch today (excellent, by the way). Weidmann’s is the oldest restaurant in Mississippi.

     We walked the town of Meridian, looking for the Civil War history trail of the city. 

     We came upon the General Supply and Machine Company, still selling windmills.

     The Union Station, still the hub of the town, has a new building.

     We wanted to make a phone call in the station, alas, no phones anymore.

     The sidewalks of the town have embedded plaques  

to mark those famous artists that where born in Mississippi.

     We searched in Rose Hill Cemetery looking for the Confederate Burial Mound, containing the mass burial of unknown confederate soldiers, and the grave of Charles Read, the “John Paul Jones” of the South. 

We found both. 

     Read’s tombstone was toppled, which might have been done by the recent storm. If you look closely, is that his head you see?

     We also found, to our interest, the final resting place of the King and Queen of the Gypsies

    On January 31, 1915, Kelly Mitchell, “Queen of the Gypsies,” died in a gypsy camp in Coatopa, Alabama, trying and failing to give birth to her 15th child at age 47. Her husband, King Emil Mitchell, took her body to Meridian, just across the Mississippi boarder, because it was the nearest place with a refrigerated morgue. The Queen needed refrigeration because it took 12 days before America’s gypsies could assemble for her funeral. It was an elaborate service, attended by over 20,000 gypsies. Emil died 27 years later and was buried next to his wife.

     The graves of the King and Queen are easy to spot in the cemetery, they’re festooned with Mardi Gras bead necklaces, trinkets, flowers, costume jewelry, and offerings of whiskey and loose change. These are not tokens of affection, but are bribes left in the belief that they will entice Kelly or Emil to enter your dreams and solve your problems.

     One of the places recommended in the literature we got from the visitor’s center was F.W. Williams Home, described as

“F.W. Williams Victorian Home, circa 1886, evokes an era of the fashionably rich. Elegant interior decorating details reflect how no expense was spared.”

However, this is what we found:

     It feels great to be on the road again. Keep an eye out for us.

Technical Stuff

Robert, Louisiana to Meridian, Mississippi: 209.0 miles

3 hours 51 minutes

11.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.02/gallon