Officer killed in 1884 gets new home in Cedar Hill Cemetery

Published 12:32 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Harry Stith was a Civil War veteran; a member of the 5th Heavy Artillery of the U.S. Colored Troops that served garrison duty in Vicksburg after the siege.

He was also a Vicksburg police officer who was killed in 1884 by a man he arrested — a death that remained unrecognized for 139 years until a retired Vicksburg police officer saw it in a publication that lists officers killed in the line of duty.

“He was on the Officer Down Memorial page (on Facebook),” said Doug Arp, a retired Vicksburg police sergeant who works to identify and mark the graves of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. “When I saw that, then we began doing our research.”

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Stith, according to Arp’s research, was killed on Feb. 27, 1884, after he responded to a call from a woman who said one of her tenants stole $10 from her. Stith arrested the man, and as he was walking the man to jail, the man managed to grab a Bowie knife and stab Stith in the groin, severing his femoral artery.

Stith managed to shoot the man, killing him instantly, but Stith died from his wound before he could receive treatment.

Finding the circumstances of Stith’s death turned out to be easy, but finding where he was buried became a challenge.

“When we found out he was USCT, we thought he was buried in Beulah Cemetery,” Arp said. “But when we checked the records at the courthouse, we turned around and found he was buried at Cedar Hill. Where? We don’t know.”

On June 20, Stith had a new home as a small group of individuals took time to see a marker with Stith’s name placed on a section of Arp’s plot in Cedar Hill that he donated.

“I’m glad we were able to give him a place where he could be remembered,” Arp said.

Arp began locating and marking the graves of officers killed in the line of duty in 2022 with the help of Ronnie Gibson of Gibson Monuments & Vases. The officers’ graves are marked by a simple grave marker with the officer’s name, the date they were killed, an etching of the department’s shoulder patch and the words, “Killed in the Line of Duty.” Gibson donates the grave markers.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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