Veterans honored at Ellison UMC


Ellison United Methodist church, located in the Vaughan community since the early 1800s, has always played a vital part in the livelihood of eastern Yazoo County. Its share of military personnel making their contributions in the defense of our great country has been quite significant, also.

In 2018, a native son of Vaughan, John Robert Dixon, anticipated returning to the community and his old home place at 41 Jim Dixon Road upon his retirement after 45 years in the Food Industry.  He searched for “Vaughan, Mississippi” on the web just to see if Vaughan had “made the cut.”  Much to his surprise, he found a bountiful amount of information available, especially under the pages titled “Preservation in Mississippi, and Vaughan – Abandoned Property.”

One of the contributors to the Vaughan website was a lady with very close ties to the Vaughan/Ellison community, Nina Cresap, who now resides in Oklahoma. One of her heartfelt comments struck a direct cord with Dixon when she spoke of her uncle Dan Haywood Fowler who was killed in World War II and buried at sea. Nina went on to say that she used to place an American flag at Dan Fowler`s headstone in the Ellison Cemetery each time she visited the community. She expressed regrets that she was no longer in the community and could not keep an American flag at his headstone. Nina wondered if anyone there still cared.

Upon reading these comments in 2018, Dixon immediately reflected how, as a boy, he helped his father use shovels and pick-axes to hand-dig the grave of anyone who had died within the community. He also remembered quite well that his father Jim Dixon kept one well-oiled special shovel stored in a particular place in his shop, only to be used for grave digging and covering a grave. That same preserved shovel, well over 100 years old now, remains in the hands of his grandson John Cooper Dixon.  When all the old stories were inevitably told around a newly opened grave site, the amazing story about Dan Haywood Fowler’s being killed in WW II and buried at sea, even though his grave was right there in this same cemetery, was fascinating to young John Robert Dixon.

Seeing the vast amount of information about Vaughan and although never having served in the military himself, Dixon contacted his son John Cooper Dixon, an Iraq U. S. Marine Corporal veteran, to relate the Dan Haywood Fowler story.  They discussed collaborating their interest and efforts to locate, identify, and record all the pertinent information about each individual veteran buried in the Ellison UMC cemetery.  An additional major part of the plan was to place a properly-sized American flag at the headstone of each veteran, regardless of the conflict they supported, abroad or at home.

The plan was written and presented to the Ellison UMC Administrative Board for approval. The suggestion to officially name this effort the John Kelly Moore Veterans Memorial was recommended. Serving in WWII all throughout Europe with General Patton, Moore had carried the mail to the front lines on a motorcycle, served as a medic, and assisted in liberating a concentration camp. Upon returning home, he farmed, raised a family, and became a major contributor to his church and to his community. A life-long member of Ellison UMC, John Kelly Moore passed away one month shy of his 102 birthday in June, 2018.

Sunday, November 11, 2018 marked the beginning of this tradition, The John Kelly Moore Veterans Memorial, which will be carried out twice a year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Flags will be placed at each veteran’s grave and will remain in place for a week`s duration. Currently, there are a total of 30 veterans being honored at Ellison Cemetery. They range from soldiers who fought in the Confederacy, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It is believed that there are more veterans buried at Ellison, and any information one may have will be very useful and most appreciated.

 While visiting in the UK recently, Dixon had the opportunity to remind a Brit countryman who was criticizing the United States, that had it not been for the United States and others coming to Britain’s defense, they could all be speaking German now…or not speaking at all. That was the end of that conversation.

As we move forward, let us never forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today did not just happen. It came about by the service and sacrifice of dedicated men and women such as these interned at Ellison United Methodist Cemetery, many of whom gave their all to preserve and protect our freedom. They are the heroes, the veterans, we honor here today.

Long Live Our Freedom and God Bless America.