The little girl was just 10 years old when the yellow fever took her life, leaving her mum devastated.
Back in the 1870s, while walking past the Natchez City Cemetery in Mississippi, if someone ever saw a woman sitting by a grave on a stormy night, they would've been surely surprised. Little did they know that she was there to comfort her daughter who passed away back in 1871.
The grave of Florence Irene Ford might seem like any other when it first meets the eyes, however, right at the back of the headstone is a mysterious door that opens to a flight of stairs. Where do the stairs lead? Right to the casket.
Florence passed away from yellow fever when she was 10 years old. Ellen, her mother, was devastated by the loss but had a rather unusual request while burying her daughter. She had a small window installed right at the head of the casket which is leveled with the stairs, built six feet under. Florence was scared of storms and even after her death Ellen couldn't leave her daughter alone and so the secret entrance was for her to go and comfort her daughter.
The epitaph on the tombstone reads, “Sacred to the Memory of Florence Irene, Daughter of Washington & Ellen H Ford. As bright and affectionate a Daughter as ever, God with His Image blest.” Although not much about the grave has changed, the window that was initially built has been covered since the 1950s fearing potential vandalism.
The City of Natchez website penned details of the little girl and her grave. It reads, "Florence was born on September 3, 1861. She died on October 30, 1871. The website reads: Florence died of yellow fever when she was 10 years old. During her short life, she was extremely frightened of storms and whenever one occurred she would rush to her mother to find comfort. Upon her death, her mother was so struck with grief that she had Florence's casket constructed with a glass window at the child’s head.
"The grave was dug to provide an area, the same depth as the coffin, at the child’s head, but this area had steps that would allow the mother to descend to her daughter’s level so she could comfort Florence during storms. To shelter the mother during storms, hinged metal trap doors were installed over the area the mother would occupy while at her child’s grave," it continued. It was then noted that the trap door behind the grave can be opened to this day.
This story is an ideal example of how the heart of a mother cries when they lose their children no matter how old or young. The heartbreak is too much to bear and so they find out ways to keep their memory alive.
Along with Florence's unique grave, the cemetery is also well known for the statue of the Turning Angel. Its believed to be watching over five graves lined up in a row, belonging to people who lost their lives during a massive explosion. It happened on March 14, 1908, at the Natchez Drug Company. The statue was installed by the grief-stricken owner of the company who was heartbroken after the death of his employees. One of the graves belongs to a 12-year-old boy.
But the question still remains, why is it called the "Turning" Angel? Well, according to the accounts of people who drive past the cemetery, the angel turns as they pass by. While some find it quite creepy, others look at the statue as a guardian angel that helps put them at ease.