By Mal Martin
Recently my wife and I traveled to the Griffin Cemetery on Ashe Nursery Road, south of Ashe Nursery in Brooklyn, to satisfy a curiosity. We had heard that there was a Scot by the name of Peter McAlpin buried there and wondered if it were true, and how a Scot came to be buried in a family cemetery in this part of south Mississippi.
The cemetery was not difficult to find, nor was the tombstone. The Griffin Cemetery is located 1.8 miles from the cattle guard which marks the south boundary of the nursery. It is shown on the Desoto National Forest map and is just inside Perry County.
The tombstone stands out, and is second in structure only to the tombstone of William Calvin Griffin and his wife Mary Anne Byrd. William Calvin Griffin was the patriarch of the Griffin family in this area of south Mississippi for which the cemetery is named.
Family history says that Calvin Griffin once owned about 12, 000 acres of land and 50,000 head of cattle (a particular breed of range cattle called "Griffin Cattle"). He also owned many slaves who lived in a settlement known as New York.
The tombstone of Peter McAlpin stands near the center of the cemetery and only a few feet from the grave of Calvin and his wife. The inscription on the tombstone reads:
Born - 8 Oct 1808
Died - 20 Oct 1891
We contacted the great grandson of Calvin Griffin, Charles Griffin Whitney, who lives a short distance from the cemetery, to obtain the story of how Peter McAlpin came to be buried in the family cemetery.
It seems that "ol man Griffin", as he was affectionately called, was on one of his frequent visits to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Peter McAlpin had just disembarked from a recently arrived freighter and was in one of the local pubs frequented by seamen and, reportedly, quite drunk. This is said to be where Mister Griffin and Mister McAlpin met. The two of them "hit it off" immediately and, no doubt, "tipped a few together". Through their conversations during the evening, Mister Griffin learned that Mr. McAlpin was an experienced carpenter, blacksmith, and "jack-of-all-trades". Before the evening was over Mr. Griffin had convinced Mr. McAlpin to return with him to his cattle ranch in Perry County.
The rest, as they say, is history. Peter McAlpin from Argylshire, Scotland became Calvin Griffin's employee and close friend and remained with the family until his death in 1891. Evidence of the close friendship that existed between the two of them is exhibited by the six foot high monument that Mr. Griffin had placed at Mr. McAlpin's burial place, second only to his own monument when he was buried in 1917.
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