152nd Anniversary Event
May 16, 2015

Center Stage Events

Bertram Hayes-Davis

   Bertram Hayes-Davis will kick-off the 152nd Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill with remarks to be delivered from Center Stage. Bertram is the great-great grandson of Jefferson and Varina Davis.
   In 2013, he thrilled a packed audience at the 150th Anniversary of The Battle of Champion Hill. His speech invigorated the crowd. During the ceremony approximately 200 honorary medallions were presented to the descendants of those who fought—blue and gray— and Davis was honored to shake the hand of each and every one as they received a medallion honoring their ancestor. The Champion Heritage Foundation is delighted to have him return for the 152nd Anniversary event.
   Since moving to Mississippi, the Davis family has concentrated on educating the public on Jefferson Davis, the man—not only serving as the president of the Confederate States but also as a prosperous planter, member of the House of Representatives (1847-1851), U.S. Secretary of War (1853-1857) and U.S. Senator from the State of Mississippi (1857-1861). Bertram’s great-grandmother was Margaret Davis Hayes, the second of six children born to Jefferson & Varina and the only one to bear children.

Lewis Family Singers


   The Lewis Family Singers is one of the finest Gospel groups in Mississippi. They are comprised of the sons and daughters (and in-laws) of Johnnie Lewis, a long-time resident of Bolton whose property lies on the west side of the Hill of Death.
   Most of the children have grown up fishing in Baker’s Creek (using Minnie bullets for sinkers) and picking up other artifacts dating to the Battle of Champion Hill. Elnora Lewis, pianist and director, leads the group as they sing for various functions in Hinds and Warren Counties. Not only are the adults talented but their children as well.
   The gift of music comes from their mother, the late Charlena Lewis. Through the years, the Champion Hill Baptist Church and other churches in the area have profited from the talents of this special family. Don’t miss hearing them sing “I’ll Fly Away” and other Gospel favorites.

 The Angel Bandits


   The Angel Bandits is a bluegrass group assembled as the band for New Stage Theatre's production of "The Grapes of Wrath." The band is made up of five singers/musicians. They became fast friends and found that their bluegrass style of old hymn music and original music written by member T.B. Ledford was sought after by area churches. They love bringing this music to people that so often touches people so deeply and makes people remember days of old. They put a modern spin on old fashioned bluegrass and love performing at area venues and events as well.

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James Anderson

   James Anderson, a noted Jackson performer, will read a newspaper clipping from The New Mississippian (Jackson, Mississippi) dated June, 1890. The article, Champion Hill Reunion, details the 27th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill and the commemoration that took place on the hill to reunite the Blue and the Gray.
   In 1890, when the U.S. Government established four national military parks—Vicksburg being one of the four —veterans came from all across the United States to be a part of the event. Many had fought at Champion Hill and wanted to extend their trip to revisit the battlefield where so many had fought and died. Anderson’s reading will reveal one of the most fascinating stories of Mississippi history ever recorded.
   Anderson is a popular entertainer in Jackson who often performs at New Stage and Little Theater. He is the director of the Chimneyville Readers Theatre, Fine Arts Director of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Champion Heritage Foundation, and sings with the St. Andrews Church Choir. He was also chosen to read at the dedication of Rebecca B. Drake’s books, Lift High the Cross and Owl Roost Plantation. When it comes to Mississippi, James Anderson is everywhere – at all events – publicizing everything – singing and performing. And, now he will be a part of Champion Hill and our efforts to interpret the famous battlefield.
   The Champion Heritage Foundation looks forward to welcoming James Anderson to his first appearance at Champion Hill.


Ghost Stories by Sid Champion V



     Sid Champion, the fifth generation Champion to hold the name CHAMPION will tell ghost stories at Center Stage, 2:00 PM.

     Sid is a master story teller and loves to tell some of the old ghost stories associated with Champion Hill. Everyone is invited to gather 'round to hear his stories.

     Sid and Rebecca Drake will be available during the day to sign "My Dear Wife: The Letters of Sid and Matilda Champion of Champion Hill." The books sell at the Vicksburg Military Park tent.

Vendors & Exhibits

Vicksburg National Military Park Eastern National Bookstore



Jerry McWilliams, Artist


   Jerry McWilliams, often featured on the History Channel, is a well-known Civil War artist from Mississippi. Among his paintings are: Chimneyville (the burning of Jackson), The Sinking of the USS Cairo; Colonel Randal McGavock: God’s Own Gentleman; Lone Star General: Hiram B. Granbury; General John Gregg; Lt. General John C.Pemberton: Defender of Vicksburg; Jefferson Davis and his Dog, Traveler, at Beauvoir; Sky Parlor Hill (Vicksburg); Colonel Cockrell Leading a Charge: Battle of Champion Hill; and his most recent painting, Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis' last home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
   In addition to his Art Exhibit, McWilliams will have some signed prints for sale. He has also placed a signed and framed print of Beauvoir in the Silent Auction.

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Brenda Harrower, Weaver


 Bertha Lewis, Manikin Maker

   For almost half a century, Bertha Lewis has felt the ghost of the soldiers who fought on the land she calls home. Home for Bertha is Champion Hill where Blue met Gray on May 16, 1863, in a pivotal battle that turned the tide for the Union Army.
   Bertha is known for her manikins that can be seen at events: Union soldiers, Champion family members; Confederate soldiers and even Darwina Loud, a Freedman School Teacher who was assigned to Champion Hill in 1864 to teach the newly freed slaves to read and write.
   Bertha’s poem I Was There: The Battle of Champion Hill (found on the Champion Hill website) was written for the 2013 Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Champion Hill and performed by Ed Shelnut, thespian. Bertha's desire was to honor those who fought and died and their ancestors who received honorary medallions in their memory. Her manikins make the story of Champion Hill come alive.

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Ernestine Leach, Story Teller


    Earnestine Leach, story teller and long-time member of Champion Hill Baptist Church, will be at Aunt Lula's headstone at 8:30 and 3:00 to tell old stories of Champion Hill and how the church came to be.

Directions to the Champion Hill Event

The Champion Hill Road is closed between Bolton and the Event

    The Champion Hill battlefield and Champion Hill MB Church is located midway between Bolton and Edwards on the Champion Hill Road. Take I-20 to exit 29 to Bolton. Turn right at the 4-way stop in the heart of Bolton and follow the frontage road for 4 miles to the S. Farr Road. Turn left for 1 mile to the Champion Hill Road.
    Parking will be available and golf carts to assist in transporting passengers, especially those with walking disabilities. Remember to bring: sun hats, sunscreen, "Off" and your camera. Cold drinks will be sold by the Champion Hill MB Church. Barbecue plate, $10.00; hot dogs, hamburgers and ice-cream sold separately.

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Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.