New historical monument honors last American slave to die

POSTED: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 4:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 4:34pm

Most would likely say a man who lived 130 years, considered to be not only the last American slave to die, but also the last Civil War veteran should have earned a pretty significant grave marker.

For more than 40 years that man, Sylvester Magee, didn't have a head stone.

That changed this week.

Several people gathered in the small grave yard of Pleasant Valley Methodist Church Thursday morning in Foxworth, Mississippi to see the unveiling of the head stone of Sylvester Magee.

"This man deserved it. He deserved everything that he got today," said Vice President of the Marion County Historical Society, Brandi Perry.

What Magee got were honorable sentiments told by community leaders, residents showing respect, and according Perry, a state land mark for his head stone.

"The stone is beautiful. It is something he will be remembered for years to come now. It's probably one of the biggest days in Marion County historical history," said Perry.

This historical monument contains brief details of Magee's life.

"This man went from being, you know, in institutionalized slavery to a free man. He owned land. He owned property, but looking back on what he experienced in his life its just fantastic," said Perry.

The unveiling turned into a family reunion for Magee's grand children and great grand children, some coming from Arizona, Tennessee, and Alabama.

"It means a whole lot to me. Simply because my granddad didn't have no marker. I just appreciate everything that everybody done here in Marion County and all over," said Mary Hayes, one of Magee's granddaughters.

Granddaughter Betty Fairley says she is glad she finally has a place to visit her grandfather.

"We will be coming and bringing flowers, and visiting knowing that's where my grandfather is," said Fairley.

The family gathering brought feelings of nostalgia for granddaughter Estella Muhammad.

Seeing the monument made her realized it is a sight her mother, Magee's daughter, never got a chance to see happen.

"I know my mother, her spirit, and poppa are here. It's a wonderful wonderful day for them," said Muhammad.

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