Gypsy Queen offerings.
Gypsy Queen offerings.

Graves of the King and Queen of the Gypsies

Field review by the editors.

Meridian, Mississippi

On January 31, 1915, Kelly Mitchell, "Queen of the Gypsies," died in a gypsy camp in Coatopa, Alabama, trying and failing to give birth to her 15th child at age 47.

Gypsy Queen necklaces.
Gypsy Queen necklaces.

Her husband, King Emil, chose to have Kelly buried 40 miles west, across the state line in Meridian, Mississippi. At the time Meridian was already known as "The Queen City," which perhaps swayed the King's decision (Many people now incorrectly assume that Meridian's nickname is because of the gypsy queen's grave, but it isn't).

A more practical reason for choosing burial in Meridian was that it was the nearest place with a refrigerated morgue. The Queen needed refrigeration because it took 12 days before America's gypsies could assemble for her funeral.

It was an elaborate service, reportedly attended by over 20,000 gypsies who arrived in the city on special trains. Legends soon grew that Kelly's casket was gold, and that mourners had tossed $20 gold pieces into her grave. The Queen's cracked capstone testifies to the ghouls who've smashed it several times over the years in search of gypsy treasure.

Graves of the King and Queen of the Gypsies.
Graves of the King and Queen of the Gypsies.

When Emil died 27 years later, he chose to be buried next to Kelly. His funeral, in the depths of World War II, was modest, and consequently his tomb remains unplundered.

The graves of the King and Queen, but especially the Queen, are easy to spot in the cemetery; they're festooned with Mardi Gras bead necklaces, trinkets, flowers, costume jewelry, and offerings of whiskey and loose change. These are not tokens of affection, but are bribes left in the belief that they will entice Kelly or Emil to enter your dreams and solve your problems.

Offerings of food are wasted; they're eaten by fire ants.

Graves of the King and Queen of the Gypsies

Rose Hill Cemetery

40th Ave., Meridian, MS
Rose Hill Cemetery. On 40th Ave. between 7th and 8th Sts. From I-20/59, take 22nd Ave. exit to downtown Meridian. Turn left on 8th St. to 40th Ave. Left on 40th Ave. When you reach the cemetery gates, drive straight in. When the road curves to the left, the graves will be on the right.
Gated after hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Jimmie Rodgers MemorialJimmie Rodgers Memorial, Meridian, MS - < 1 mi.
Stuckey Bridge: Dalton Gang GhostStuckey Bridge: Dalton Gang Ghost, Chunky, MS - 11 mi.
Famous Red Water Artesian WellFamous Red Water Artesian Well, Shubuta, MS - 35 mi.
In the region:
Town Named Hot Coffee, Hot Coffee, MS - 61 mi.

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