The top of the James Boatwright crypt in the historic Keyes Cemetery west of the Tombigbee River features inscriptions that have endured the elements for more than 140 years.
James Boatwright was born January 9, 1797 and died in Itawamba County on July 17, 1865. According to the census records James came to Itawamba County after the 1860 census was taken. During the 1860 census year he was enumerated in the Fayette County, Alabama census (Fayette Court House Post Office). The census enumerates him as being 63 years of age, a farmer, and born in North Carolina. Listed in his household are his 54 year old wife Phebe, and children Thomas, James M., Arminda along with a 23 year old farmer by the name of John Wilkins.
Also listed in the 1860 Fayette County census nearby is the Daniel Boatwright family, probably James’ brother.
The 1860 Itawamba County census lists a Lewis Boatwright (age 50 born in SC) already living in Itawamba County with his wife Catharine, and children Sarah J., Thomas, Catharine, James K., George W. and Jasper M. This Boatwright family was living in the Keyes Cemetery neighborhood. Lewis Boatwright entered into a contract with the Itawamba County Board of Police during 1865 to operate a ferry on the Tombigbee River near Van Buren at Bean’s Crossing.