Meridian Star

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April 12, 2007

A royal burial





A royal burial……could it be The Valley of the Kings at Amarna where the Egyptian Royal Tombs are located, or perhaps the Westminster Abbey where the Kings and Queens of Great Britain receive much pomp and ceremony at the time of their burials?

No, this royal burial took place at Meridian’s Rose Hill Cemetery, and perhaps with less pomp and ceremony, but with the respect and dedication of a people who loved their Queen.

The year is 1915 and the sudden death of beloved Gypsy Queen Callie Mitchell brought an estimated 20,000 people to the Deep South and the small southern town of Meridian to attend her funeral and burial.

The Queen of the Gypsies of America and her tribe were camped near Meridian when the Queen died during the delivery of a child. The chance location of a Meridian Funeral home and the Episcopal Church, which was equipped and willing to conduct the services for larger numbers of her people, plus Rose Hill Cemetery, a well-maintained and historic location even in the year of 1915, all played important roles in making the decision.

The Feb. 7, 1915, issue of Meridian Dispatch Newspaper describes the scene. “At one side of the parlors, with candelabra at the head and foot stands the magnificent silver-trimmed metallic casket. Hermetically sealed within, in all the barbaric splendor of a medieval Queen lays Mrs. Callie (Kelly) Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsies of America. Her swarthy face with its high cheekbones is typical of Romany tribes and the head, the upper portion of which is covered with bright silken drapery pinned at the back with pins, rests upon a cushion of filmy silk and satin. The hair is braided Gypsy fashion and the dark tresses shine. The body is attired in a Royal robe of Gypsy Green and other bright colors contrasting vividly with the somber hues usual under such circumstances. Two necklaces are around the neck, one of shells, an heirloom that was descended through generations. The lower part of the body is draped with “Sacred Linen” treasured by Gypsy bands for the use only when death overtakes one of their numbers. When the children arrive, each will put a memento of some kind in the casket and it will devolve upon the youngest child to place her mother’s earrings in the ear.”

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