|(L to R) Rosetta Patton Brown, Roebuck "Pops" Staples,|
John Fogerty, and MZMF founder Skip Henderson
After meeting in the Mt. Zion M.B. Cemetery, John Fogerty and Skip Henderson planned the Robert Johnson ceremony. Fogerty also agreed to fund a headstone for the grave of Charley Patton--located in a cemetery belonging to the New Jerusalem M.B. Church on the Robinson Plantation in Holly Ridge, Mississippi. Skip Henderson tracked down the seventy-nine year-old cemetery caretaker, “Cootchie” Howard," who recalled where he the blues legend had been laid to rest. He physically showed them the grave in the church cemetery. It was sitting right next to a pile of garbage, which as it turned out was the local garbage dump. The massive machines in the adjacent cotton gin demanded that part of the cemetery--specifically the grave of Charley Patton --be turned into a dumpsite. Howard's revelation hit hard like a case of blue devils, making Henderson cry and imbuing in him the resolve for commemoration.
The grave marker sits on the spot pointed out to John Fogerty and Skip Henderson in 1991. The dedication ceremony took place on the blazing hot afternoon of July 20th 1991, the same weekend as the Pops Staples Festival in the nearby hamlet of Drew--a popular meeting place for black musicians in the early twentieth century. Roebuck “Pops” Staples attended the unveiling along with Fogerty and three generations of Patton’s family including daughter Rosetta Patton Brown, granddaughter Martha Brown and great granddaughter Kechia Brown. After the ceremony Fogerty performed at the Staples Festival--much to the delight and perhaps astonishment of the small crowd in attendance. Fogerty later composed and recorded a song inspired by the heat that day. He titled it "110 in the Shade."
|John Fogerty at the New Jerusalem M.B. Church in 1991|
|Holly Ridge Store (now closed)|
[Gayle Dean Wardlow later claimed that the owner of the Holly Ridge store told him--on a 1960s field hunting tip with Bernie Klatzko--that the remains of Patton had been buried in a potter's field across the road from the store. On a later visit, Wardlow believed the burial ground was now covered partially by a private concrete driveway. No one alive has any more information, however, as to where it is underneath the driveway. None of the graves were marked and the burial ground has since been reclaimed by private interests. No other sources support his second-hand account.]
Charley Patton - "Spoonful Blues" 1929