The following is taken from "Yesterday: The Descendants of John Hutchison and Elizabeth Frazier of Attala County, MS," written by Edward Hutchison. The book is both a genealogy and a social history of the county from 1830 to the present. Interested readers will find more excerpts and ordering information

Very early in my searches among the tombstones of Attala County I came across the following inscription:

Remember friends as you pass by,
as you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
so prepare for death and follow me.

This simple verse expresses a fundamental truth about this world and our brief passage through it. There comes a day--and it is a sad day--in the life of each of us when the illusions of youth give way to the harsh reality that death is both final and universal. It is a tacit function of religion to soften this reality with the assurance of another, better life, where we shall know no sorrow. But even those of us who live, as I do, trusting in the promises of Jesus, know that death means a parting from those we love, and a disengagement from the concerns of this world.

It has always seemed to me that this final separation is made the sadder if death must mean that eventually we are forgotten--our deeds unknown, our contributions unnoticed, our sacrifices unappreciated, and our very names unrecorded. Yet, it is incontrovertible that death begins the process of being forgotten, and, for all but a few of the most famous among us, this process is largely complete when our grandchildren die. What a shame then that the passions that have excited us, the sorrows that have tempered us, and the joy we have found in life, must be forgotten, even as we are.

And yet what claim might we make upon the attention of future generations if we have ignored the claims upon us? By what right do we ignore our ancestors and yet hope that our descendants might take some note of us? It seems to me a simple matter of equity that those who would wish to be remembered ought to take some care to preserve the memories of those who have gone before. It is in this spirit that this book is humbly offered.

I have been granted a rare privilege through the preparation of this history, for I have come to know, sometimes in a very personal and intimate way, people who died before I was born and others whom I never met. Many times they have led remarkable lives, filled with the flavor of their times. I trust that through this book you may come not only to some greater understanding of them and of our own specific heritage, but also to some appreciation of the universality of the human condition. What follows is often a narrative of hardship and deprivation, but it is also the tale of perseverance and of triumph. If it is the story of death and tribulation, it is also the story of birth and renewal. Above all else, it is hoped that the chronicling of these stories will serve as a reminder that we are all embarked upon a great adventure, full of wonder, where the loveliness of life is no lie.

E.R. Hutchison
Madison, MS

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