HomeArts & LitSponsored Post: Yazoo Legends

Sponsored Post: Yazoo Legends

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In this day and age of reality TV, paparazzi and getting ‘the scoop’ on the private lives of real-life stars and politicians, protection of the innocent (and the not-so-innocent) seems a thing of the past. Yazoo County, Mississippi, has always been willing to change names to protect the innocent. Nowhere is that aspect of life in Yazoo made more clear than in our legends and lore.

Take into account, for example, the legend of our “Witch of Yazoo.” Many people are under the mistaken impression that the story of this unnamed-woman-of-lore originated with Willie Morris’s book, “Good Old Boy.” In fact, the story has been passed down from generation to generation in Yazoo for as long as anyone can remember. Children were warned of the spirit who would get them for playing in the cemetery near the chained grave. Yazooans and visitors alike have speculated on who the “witch” was, on the validity of the details surrounding her death, and on whether or not she was to blame for the devastating fire that ravaged our town in 1904. Of course, when the town burned, she took with her any record of who, or if, she was.

These questions can all be answered with certainty when it comes to another of Yazoo County’s long-ago legends. The “Legend of Laure” first comes across as a moral story to teach proper young ladies of the perils associated with falling in love and marrying a man you barely know – and, heaven forbid, a foreign one at that. After being passed down from Yazooan to Yazooan for over a century, the truth of the story was brought to life when a copy of the 1872 book, “Laure: The History of a Blighted Life,” was discovered by Ricks Memorial Library in Yazoo City.

The story goes that Laure, a young woman, was wooed and won by a Yazoo County doctor whose studies took him to France in 1850. It was in France that the two were married and conceived a child. Being from a prominent Yazoo County family, the young doctor was struck with the fear of losing his inheritance when he discovered his wife was with child. He convinced her that he had to return to Mississippi in order to bring his father up to speed, and that he would return in a few months to reclaim his bride and his child. The baby was born, and her husband never returned, so poor, abandoned Laure left her child with a sitter and boarded a ship to New Orleans to find and support her lost love. Or so she thought.

The legend from this point twists and turns through scandal, bribery, violence and turmoil in the life of young Laure. Eventually, she and her child became citizens of Yazoo, and in an effort to clear the air, her story was interpreted, written and published by a local author. The prominent family was said to have confiscated and destroyed all copies of the book – and thus the legend of Laure was born. Of course, the names in Laure’s book were changed … to protect the innocent, and possibly not-so-innocent.

Be sure to take the time to visit Yazoo County, Mississippi. We would love to tell you more about our legends – past and present – and help you understand why this magical place, situated half in the Mississippi Delta, half in the hills, has inspired so many legends. We also have legendary artists, writers, actors and actresses, singers, politicians and all-around great folks, like those you’ll meet when you come to see us. To learn more, please visit www.visityazoo.org, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @VisitYazoo.

Photos by Dawn Rosenberg Davis.

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