Book Dedication at Champion Hill
On Saturday, May 5, 2007, Rebecca Drake will honor Margie Riddle Bearss, the Matriarch of Mississippi History, by dedicating their new book, Collected Stories of the Vicksburg Campaign in her memory. A memorial stone inscribed in her memory will also be unveiled that day. The historic event will take place on the grounds of Matilda and Sid Champion’s house on Champion Hill Road, 4 miles west of Bolton.
Margie Riddle Bearss who turned 80 in 2005, loved to write, whether poetry or history, and was constantly seeking new projects to channel her creativity. During my visits with her, she would unceremoniously hand me hand-written slips of paper which expressed her thoughts regarding various subjects. On October 22nd, the day of her eightieth birthday, she handed me a lovely poem which she had written during the night. The poem reflected on the season of her birth: “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.”
On other occasions she would hand me a scrap piece of paper recalling a memory related to Champion Hill, a place dear to her heart. I saved all of these hand-written gems and organized them into Vignettes of Champion Hill now featured on the Battle of Champion Hill website.
During Margie’s last stay in Brandon, 2004 – 2006, we worked together to produce two books, My Dear Wife: Letters to Matilda and Darwina’s Diary: A View of Champion Hill ~ 1865. After the completion and dedication of each of these books, Margie would look me square in the eye and ask, “What’s next?” For Margie there always had to be the next project waiting in the wings. Following the dedication of Darwina’s Diary and, knowing that she would ask “What’s next?” , I suggested that we collect our previously written stories of the Vicksburg Campaign and publish them in book form. Margie’s eyes glowed and I knew that she liked the idea. In June 2006, we moved forward to create Collected Stories of the Vicksburg Campaign.
One month later, Margie fell ill and was unable to see the book to completion. Determined to leave more of Margie Bearss’ Footprints in the Sand, I finished the book in a fashion which I thought would please her. I am very proud and appreciative of the two years Margie and I were able to work together and for all that we accomplished as a team – or as she so lovingly called us – “The Dynamic Duo.”
Margie will be remembered as the MATRIARCH OF MISSISSIPPI HISTORY
Rebecca Blackwell Drake
For information e-mail RBDrake@Comcast.net
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