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Blairs Chapel Cemetery

"Sonny Boy" Williamson I's Gravesite

Blairs Chapel Cemetery
Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007

Fellow harmonica players have left tokens of tribute on Williamson's tombstone.
Fellow harmonica players have left tokens of tribute on Williamson's tombstone.
Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007

Blairs Chapel Road
Jackson, Tennessee
United States

On This Very Spot in 1881, Blairs Chapel CME Church was founded.

On This Very Spot, Sonny Boy Williamson I was buried in 1948. Born John Lee Curtis, he was murdered in a Chicago street mugging on June 1, 1948. The lyrics of one of Williamson's songs runs, "Now I want to bury my body, way down in Jackson, Tennessee."

On This Very Spot in 1971, the church moved to a new location at 2295 Steam Mill Ferry Road, leaving the cemetery in solitude at the end of this gravel road.

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Blairs Chapel Road is a gravel road, but there is a street sign at the Steam Mill Ferry Road turn-off. There are several private homes on this road, as well as another cemetery on the right. Blairs Chapel Cemetery is on the left at the very end of the road. However, it is spread out over two hills, and "Sonny Boy" Williamson's grave is on the first hill, prior to the one where the cemetery sign is located.

Condition: Although this is still an operating cemetery, there is no office or other structure nearby.

Public Access: The cemetery has no fence and is accessible 24/7/365. However, visiting this uninhabited area after dark is not recommended.

Parking: This is a deadend gravel road in a rural area. There is plenty of room to park around the cemetery sign, and limited room along the sides of the road.

Location: About 15 miles southwest of Jackson, Tennessee,

Nearest Major Airport: Memphis International

Directions: Take Highway 45 south out of Jackson and exit right onto Highway 18 toward Bolivar, Tennessee. In just less than a mile, you'll see the historical marker for Williamson on the right side of the road. Turn right onto the street before the marker, Caldwell Road. When Caldwell deadends at Riverside after 1.6 miles, take a left and then an immediate right onto Campbell. When Campbell deadends at Steam Mill Ferry Road after 1.5 miles, turn left. After 3.3 miles (you'll pass the current location of Blairs Chapel CME Church on your right), turn left onto Blairs Chapel Road. The road is .8 miles long, with the cemetery on the left at the very end.

Latitude: 35.510322; Longitude: -88.905648

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pffvintage said ...

My daughter and I searched for Sonny Boy Williamson's grave today and thought I'd leave some helpful info. We went all the way to the entrance (the picture on this page, red brick sign with the wheel). Williamson's grave is not in this part of the cemetery. If you go into the cemetery where the red brick sign is, you're in the newer part. In the woods behind that part is an older part but Williamson is not there either. I asked some people visiting another gravesite and they said he was in the woods somewhere but they didn't know where. We finally left the cemetery in hopes to do more online research so we could find it. As we were driving back down the little road the cemetery is on, about 1/4 to 1/2 mile on the right (going back towards Steam Mill Ferry Rd), I noticed some gravesites on the top of the hill and I stopped to take a look. Sonny Boy's grave is on top of that hill in the woods. You have to get up there and really look. You cannot see it from the road.

posted on October 8th, 2011

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