Robert Johnson (1911-1938) is one of the leading figures in blues history. But despite Robert Johnson’s importance in blues history and his major influence on the music, much of his life is shrouded in mystery. The Mississippi Blues Trail has placed its marker commemorating Robert Johnson at the entrance to Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, near Money, Mississippi, which is one of three sites reputed to be the location of Robert Johnson’s grave.
One of the mysteries about Robert Johnson is the exact location of his grave. There are three reputed Robert Johnson gravesites in Mississippi: this one at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, near Money, Mississippi, one at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Morgan City and one at the Payne Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Quito. All three reputed Robert Johnson gravesites are in Leflore County.
After visiting all three reputed Robert Johnson gravesites, we lean toward this one as being the most likely place where Robert Johnson is buried. The Mississippi Blues Trail appears to consider this the most probable location of Robert Johnson’s actual gravesite and has erected its Mississippi Blues Trail marker commemorating Robert Johnson at the entrance to the Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church grounds.
The GPS location of this marker is: N 33 33.796′ W 90 12.923′
The street address is Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 63530 Money Road, Leflore County, Mississippi.
The Mississippi Blues Trail marker reads:
“ROBERT JOHNSON – A seminal figure in the history of the Delta blues, Robert Johnson (1911-1938) synthesized the music of Delta blues pioneers such as Son House with outside traditions. he in turn influenced such artists as Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Johnson’s compositions, notable for their poetic qualities, include the standards ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ and ‘Dust My Broom.’ Johnson’s mysterious life and early death continue to fascinate blues fans. He is thought to be buried in this graveyard.”
Note the Mississippi Blues Trail‘s statements about Johnson’s “mysterious life” and that Robert Johnson “is thought to be buried in this graveyard.” Many of the details of Robert Johnson’s life are mysteries which are still open for debate; so is the location of his final resting place.
Here is a Google Street View image showing Money Road at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church:
The two photos below show the Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church and its graveyard. The reputed Robert Johnson grave is beneath the two large trees shown in the these photo.
The GPS location of the Robert Johnson grave is: N 33 33.807′ W 90 12.978′
The photo below shows the Robert Johnson headstone beneath a large pecan tree.
The photo below shows the front of the Robert Johnson headstone.
The inscription on the front of the headstone reads:
“ROBERT L. JOHNSON
MAY 8 1911 – AUGUST 16 1938
– musician and composer –
he influenced millions beyond his time
[note: there is an image here of a handwritten note by Robert Johnson]
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jerusalem
I know that my Redeemer liveth and that
He will call me from the Grave.
HANDWRITTEN BY ROBERT JOHNSON, SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH AND PRESERVED AMONG FAMILY PAPERS BY HIS SISTER, CARRIE H. THOMPSON.”
The inscription on the rear of the gravestone reads:
“When I leave this town
I’ll bid you fare farewell
And when I return again
You’ll have a great long story to tell”
Here is a video of David “Honeyboy” Edwards discussing Robert Johnson’s death. The discussion of Robert Johnson starts at 4:00.
Here is a short video about a tour of the Robert Johnson grave at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church:
Here are links to more articles about Robert Johnson’s gravesite(s):
- Matthew Taub – Atlas Obscura – 23 October 2019
Our Recommended Recordings of Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson’s Complete Recordings are an essential part of any blues fans’ collection. We recommend the Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings (Centennial Edition) as the version to buy.
Available through Amazon.com and these Amazon affiliates:
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