Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sand Springs Cemetery

Sand Springs Presbyterian Church and Cemetery is located in southwestern Lafayette County in the Orwood community. The church was established in 1850 when some of the members of the Presbyterian congregation at nearby Water Valley petitioned to build their own church north of the Yocona River. Water Valley was south of the river, and during periods of heavy rain, members were unable to attend church there. Interestingly, the petition refers to the Yocona River as "Yockanypataffa" River, a similar pronunciation to Faulkner's "Yoknapatawpha" County.

The first church building, a log structure that initially was used by all faiths on an alternating basis, was replaced in 1854 by the building seen in the photo below. This building is on the National Register of Historical Places and was designed and constructed by master builder William Turner.

The cemetery is nearby and is rather large for the rural area. Its most striking feature is the stand of beautiful old cedar trees in the middle of the cemetery, and as you might imagine, the older graves are located here.

Orwood, formerly found as Orrwood, was named for named for the Orr family that settled in the area. At one time, the community included a post office, school, stores and a grist mill. Today, the church and cemetery are the only indicators of the former community.

Ira Baxter Orr was the son of Ira Addison Orr and Mary Anne Gray whose families migrated to Lafayette County from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He enlisted in the Lamar Rifles of Company G, Miss. 11th Infantry Regiment on April 26, 1861. After the war, Ira married Sallie Hilliard Fernandez in 1871 at College Hill, another early Presbyterian community in Lafayette County. Many descendants of this couple live in Lafayette County today.

1880 Census
Lafayette County, Mississippi
B. Ira Orr 39 NC NC NC farmer
H. Sally Orr 30 SC SC SC wife
J. Mary Orr 8 MS daughter
Margy 4 MS daughter
Carrie 2 MS daughter
Warren 1 mo. MS son

Other children born to the couple included Laura, Ira Jr., Robert, Harry, James, and Addison Walter.

Jack Lamar Mayfield, a local historian, wrote a wonderful history of this church, cemetery and community which appeared in the Oxford Eagle a couple of months ago and supplied much of the information you read here.


  1. I'm wondering how to get to this cemetary I have family that is supposed to be buried her but I cannot find directions anywhere...

  2. hi ms mona!!!
    i found your other blog!!
    does uncle don know you have this

  3. This looks like a peaceful cemetery.