"Remembering Margie Bearss Day"

A Photographic Journey

Photography by Clione Rochat and Henry Little

May 5, 2007



A Day to Remember

Photography by Clione Rochat, San Saba, TX

Bulletin board along the entrance to Champion Hill displays photographs of Margie and Ed Bearss through

the years.

John C. Waugh, author of Edwin Cole Bearss: History's Pied Piper, and his wife, Kathleen (left), greet Jenny Bearss and her sons Andy and Todd Olmsted.

Warren Grabau, Vicksburg author and historian, was best man at Ed's and Margie's wedding on July 30, 1958. The Bearss were married in Brandon, MS.

Terry Winschel, chief historian at the Vicksburg National Military Park, Parker Hills, Battle Focus tours, and Charles Schmitz, re-enactor from Poplarville enjoying the event. 

A large and enthusiastic crowd applauds as Rebecca Drake introduces Margie's and Ed's friends who came to attend the event held in her honor.

Re-enactors began the 11:00 event with the posting of the flags while Rebecca Drake and  Sid Champion view the colorful ceremony from behind the podium. The table on display was Matilda Champion's dining room table used by the Union surgeons as an amputation table during the Battle of Champion Hill.  

Rebecca Drake introduces Sid Johnson Champion, the 5th generation Champion to hold the name Sid Champion. 

Sid Champion greets the crowd and introduces members of the Champion family attending the historic event.

Rebecca Drake begins her tribute to Margie saying, "I know that many of you are trembling in your seats -  wondering if I can dedicate this book today in Margie's memory without dissolving into tears? The answer is yes - because today
 is not only a day for remembering Margie Bearss
but also a day for honoring her for all that
she has meant to Mississippi history."

Sid  Champion reads the dedication page of Collected Stories of the Vicksburg Campaign with Jenny, Todd and Andy looking on.  The book was dedicated "In Memory of Margie Bearss, October 22, 1925 - October 7, 2006."

Billy Ellis, Margie's former student from Lexington, Mississippi, class of 1956, salutes the audience and prepares to read his Eulogy to Margie. Margie and Billy remained dearest friends for over fifty years

Grady Howell Jr., Mississippi author and historian, assisted by Charlie Brantley, re-enactor, folds the Mississippi flag that covered the Memorial Stone honoring Margie Bearss. The flag was presented to Jenny Bearss and her sons, Todd and Andy Olmstead. Jenny is the youngest daughter of Ed and the late Margie Bearss.    

Jenny Bearss, with her sons by her side, holds the Mississippi Flag presented to her in Margie's memory.

Confederate and Union re-enactors stand at attention in Margie's honor.  The re-enactors came to the event not only to remember Margie but to see and feel the hallowed ground of Champion Hill.  They, like Margie, need to touch and to feel history to truly be a part of it.

Charlie Brantley, artillery officer, watches as the re-enactors prepare to salute Margie with artillery and infantry salutes.

An artillery salute following the book dedication and the unveiling of the Memorial Stone in memory of Margie

James Clark, bagpiper, concludes the
Dedication Ceremony with "Amazing Grace."

Terry Brantley, one of the hosts of the event, displays her assortment of Buttermilk pies made from Matilda Champion's original recipe. The pies were a hit with the crowd.

Union and Confederate soldiers hug the cooks, Terry Brantley and Lil Lovette, as they view the Buttermilk Pies covering the table. After the war, many a Yankee returned South to claim a Confederate bride.

Nettie Ratliff (left) and Earnestine Young (right) with Jim Drake, webmaster for the Battle of Champion Hill website. During the ceremony, Earnestine and Nettie were recognized as Margie's sitters during Margie's stay in the nursing home.

Mildred Coleman (left), Margie's best friend from Trace Pointe Assisted Living in Clinton and Clione Rochat from San Saba, Texas, enjoying the day's events. Clione has been Rebecca Drake's proofreader and editor since 1985. This is her way of contributing to battlefield preservation in Mississippi.

Jerry McWilliams, Civil War artist, and his wife Kay enjoy visiting with the crowd. Among some of the paintings on display  were: Col. Randal McGavock ~"God's Own Gentleman," General Hiram Granbury, and Sky Parlor Hill (Vicksburg).

Joe Gerache, Civil War medical historian of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the full regalia of a Major - CSA., answers questions about his wonderful collection of medical memorabilia.

A talented group of period musicians enjoy entertaining the crowd.  The group is under the direction of Ann Mason, violinist with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra.

Civil War re-enactors pitched their white cotton tents on the grounds of Champion Hill. Spectators enjoyed looking at the typical living quarters of Civil War soldiers.

Karen McCraw, re-enactor and musician holds her cat
Hope as the feline models her Civil War coat and hat.

Reverend Marion Leflore, pastor of Champion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, cut the ribbon to unveil the first historic marker to be erected on the Champion Hill battleground.

The historic marker was erected on the site of the first Champion home that was burned by the Yankees in July 1863. Sid S. and Matilda Champion lived here happily with their four young children before the war.

Rev. Marion LeFlore and his wife, Gloria, were ecstatic to be a part of the historic event at Champion Hill. The Champion Heritage Foundation took great pride in the setting of the marker as did members of the Champion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Sid Champion invites the crowd to come forward and read the text on the marker while onlookers capture the moment with their cameras.

 Rebecca Blackwell Drake, author and historian, stands beside the historic marker with a group of Civil War Re-enactors after speaking at the marker dedication.

 "As a writer, the most difficult thing I've ever tried to do was to tell the story of the Champion House Site and to have the story fit on 18 lines,"  stated Rebecca Drake. The marker, featuring photographs of Sid and Matilda Champion, was hand made by Sewah Monument Company in Ohio.

A Day to Remember

Photography by Henry Little, Utica, MS

Jerry McWilliams displaying his Civil War art on the grounds of the Champion House. To the foreground is a portrait of John Gregg, commander of Gregg's Brigade.

Union soldiers prepare for the posting of the flag.

Soldiers march in single file to the Dedication Ceremony honoring Margie Riddle Bearss.

Rebecca Drake, author and historian, greets the crowd commenting, "This is a day not only for remembering Margie Bearss but also for honoring her for all that she had done for Mississippi history."

Billy Ellis reads his Eulogy to Margie saying, "We who knew and loved her will always be transfixed by the power of her memory. So for now, Margie, I hold your memory dear in my heart as I remember a line from your favorite Keats poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn:  'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on.'  Your memory will always 'play on' in the hearts of those who loved you."

Sid Champion reads the dedication page which ends with two lines of a poem written by Margie Bearss on her 80th Birthday:  Collected Stories of the Vicksburg Campaign, Dedicated in Loving Memory of Margie Riddle Bearss, October 22, 1925 - October 7, 2006. "Autumn - a beauty so intense it frightens me; I know it will slip into winter and its dull gray cold; But eighty autumns I have loved; and ached with the beauty of all of them."  Margie Bearss

Rebecca Drake presents the first copies of Collected Stories of the Vicksburg Campaign to Jenny Bearss and her sons, Todd and Andy.

Grady Howell, right, and Charlie Brantley, unveil the stone inscribed in Margie's Memory.

Artillery commanders stand at attention as the infantry fires a salute.

Confederate and Union infantry salute for Margie Riddle Bearss who "left her footprints in the sand of Mississippi."

Confederate and Union soldiers pose with Jenny Bearss, left, Mildred Coleman and Rebecca following the unveiling of the historic marker.

Rebecca Drake signing copies of the new book which features stories of the Vicksburg Campaign. All of the stories have been published in national magazines and newspapers in past years.

Sid Champion reads portions of  letters written by his great-great grandfather, Sid S. Champion during the war.

Jenny Bearss the youngest daughter of Ed and Margie Bearss, with Mildred Coleman, a resident of Trace Pointe Assisted Living, and Rebecca Drake.

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