The Natchez City Cemetery sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. If the river sings a song, then the cemetery tells a story…several stories. White stone tombstones of many notable people are neatly arranged on the green grass of Adams County, yet one grave, in particular, has a peculiar yet touching back story.
The grave of little Florence Irene Ford is one of the strangest graves anyone has ever seen, and above all else, it is a stark display of the never-ending love a mother has for her child.
Florence died in 1871, at the young age of 10, from yellow fever. During her short life, she had a deep fear of thunderstorms. Whenever a storm would roll in, she would rush to her mother, who could comfort her until the storm passed.
After young Florence passed away, her mother was naturally distraught and simply couldn’t bear the thought of her young daughter being buried, as she still wanted to comfort her during storms, even after her death. So Florence’s Mother came up with an idea that would still allow her to be with her beloved daughter every time a thunderstorm darkened the Natchez sky.
The first step was ordering a custom coffin with a small glass window for viewing. Next, an adjoining stairway led down to the casket level; workers also installed a viewing window in the concrete wall at the bottom of the staircase. This unusual grave was created so Florence’s mother could still see her through the glass and comfort her.
Florence’s mother would visit her daughter’s grave every time stormy weather rolled over the Mississippi River; she would walk down the stairs to be with her daughter during the storm.
Additionally, she installed hinged metal trapdoors at the top of the stairs to protect her from the wind and rain as she often sat by her daughter’s coffin. It was not uncommon for her to read or sing to her daughter until the storm passed.
.This unique and storied grave has changed very little since 1871. The epitaph on the gravestone still clearly reads the original inscription: “As bright and affectionate a Daughter as ever God with His Image blest.”
Behind the tombstone lies the metal trapdoors, which can still be opened today so that cemetery visitors can still comfort Florence during storms.
Local Natchez folklore has it that if no one descends the stairs to comfort Florence during a thunderstorm, her ghost will rise and wander the cemetery searching for her mother and the comfort she desperately needs.