Robert Johnson Gravesite

Little Zion M.B. Church
Money Road - Greenwood, MS
Pastor McArthur McKinley

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The church property on Money Road borders the Tallahatchie River about 2 miles north
of Greenwood, MS.  Thousands of graves are located within this isolated, tree lined, and
peacefully secluded spot.  Pastor McArthur McKinley says it's both a blessing and a curse that the
popular Bluesman Robert Johnson is buried in this cemetery.  Hundreds  of people visit the
cemetery and leave behind an assortment of trash, including liquor bottles, drugs, and
beer cans.  Johnson,  most legendary of all the Delta Bluesmen, purportedly sold his soul to
the Devil at a  crossroads in Mississippi, in exchange for superior musical ability.  Johnny Shines,
before his death, stated that Robert was a religious man and the crossroads referred to in song
was probably where the Southern (railroad) crosses the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley (railroad) in
Moorhead, MS.  Robert Johnson was noted for telling a lot of stories and Shines
stated that the selling of his soul came from all these BS stories and
that Robert Johnson was just poking fun at the crossroads myth in his song.

Tommy Johnson (no relation to Robert) was known for selling his soul before the
Robert Johnson Myth. There are many stories through the years of people
reportedly selling their soul to the devil. Here's a few:
As early as the 6th century was Saint Theophilus of Adana.
16th century was Johann Faust & Pan Twardowski.
17th century was Christoph Haiymann & Urbain Grandier
18th century was Jonathon Moulton & Giuseppe Tartin
19th century was Niccolo Paganini

Selling your soul at The Crossroads equates to "The Devil Bridges" overseas.
Go to one of the Devil Bridges to seal the deal as there are plenty.
49 in France, 3 in Spain, 10 in Italy, 8 in UK, and also listed in Antigua, Germany,
Portugal, Columbia, Switzerland, Philippines, Guatemala, Bulgaria, Slovenia,
Netherlands, Romania, Estonia, and Russia.

 

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On December 7, 2001, after a prolonged 10 year legal battle of ups and downs, Claud L. Johnson
was named legal heir of his father's  estate by The Supreme Court of Mississippi.  Claud told me that
he had always known that Robert was his father.  The difficulty was proving it in the courts.
Claud also told me what the middle initial "L" stood for in both his & his father's name,
but I promised never to tell anyone while outside of the Little Zion Graveyard.
If you ever run into me at the gravesite, I'll tell you the secret "Mississippi" truth!

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Robert's life was one of mystery and legend, and the mystery continues in death.  In addition
to the Little Zion gravesite, there are two additional gravesites!  Payne Chapel MB Church at
32830 County Rd 167 three miles south of Itta Bena boasts a site, while Mount Zion MB Church on
County Rd 511 outside of Morgan City boasts another site.  The Morgan City site includes an
impressive grave marker (cenotaph) that was provided by Sony/Columbia records and placed
on April 20, 1991.  In 1990, Columbia Records had released "The Complete Works" of Robert Johnson.
Needless to say, the release turned into a big hit for Johnson's music.  The granite obelisk
has inscriptions by Peter Guralnick and Skip Henderson.

Robert L. Johnson became known as the King of the Mississippi Delta Country Blues even though he died
tragically in Baptist Town at the tender age of 27 and recorded only 29 songs in just two sessions.

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 A Robert Johnson tribute was held during March-2004 that included Johnson's son, Claud,
and Johnson's grandson, Steve.  After services at Little Zion M.B. Church, a special luncheon
was held at Hoover's Grocery Store in Baptist Town.

  (CLICK HERE for SUMMARY)

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Tom "Peter Rabbit" Eskridge dug Robert Johnson's grave on a hot August day in 1938
according to Mrs. Rosie Eskridge.  Tom's wife Rosie remembers walking from the Luther
Wade Plantation bringing water out for her husband to the Little Zion M.B. Church gravesite on this
extremely hot day.  Both Mr. & Mrs. Eskridge are now deceased and are buried in the
Little Zion Cemetery next to each other.

Tom's stone shows the name Eskridge mispelled with an extra letter 'E'.

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Ms Rosie's stone shows the date of death as 7-1-2006,
however Mrs. Rosie died on 6-22-2006.

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In June-2004, two blues fans from France were married at the church.

In February-2007, The Mississippi Blues Commission erected a sign on Money Road at
the entrance to the Little Zion graveyard to recognize the historical significance and impact
of Robert Johnson's music.  It was subsequently stolen, and a second sign has been erected.

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page added 2004

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