Gypsy Queen buried in Dixie


Who knows what Curtis Mayfield was thinking when he wrote "Gypsy Woman".

"From nowhere through the caravan
Around the campfire light,
A lovely woman in motion,
With her hair as dark as night
Her eyes like a cat in the dark
That hypnotized me with love,
She was a Gypsy Woman
She was a Gypsy Woman."

He could have been describing Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsies of America, who died in 1915, in a gypsy camp near Meridian, Mississippi. Records show that Queen Kelly was 47 years old, mother of 15 children, who died in premature childbirth, despite the fact that the gypsy tribe offered to pay the attending doctor $10,000 to save her. The funeral was planned to accomodate the thousands of gypsies that would make the pilgrimage to Meridian, Mississippi to view the body and pay respects. Her head was covered in a silver metallic cloth pinned in the back to accent her high cheekbones. Her black hair was braided, gypsy fashion, and her body was dressed in the bright colored robe of a Gypsy Queen. Two necklaces hung from around her neck, one of shells, an heirloom handed down for generations. Her lower body was wrapped in sacred linens. A comb, brush, and other toilitries were placed beside her as well as a supply of working clothes for use on the other side. Candelabra stood at the head and foot of the silver trimmed casket, which was heremetically sealed. Over 20,000 gypsies from all over the United States came to Meridian for the wake and funeral at the Episcopal Church. The song, "Gypsy Woman" ends poignantly:

"All through the caravan
She was dancing with all the men
Waiting for the rising sun
Everyone was having fun
I hate to see the lady go
Knowing that she'll never know
That I love her
I love you, Gypsy Woman
I love you, Gypsy Woman"

For years gypsies continued to drive their painted wagon caravans throughout the south, camping, pilfering, theiving, and dancing. Many people visit the tomb of Queen Kelly every year bringing gifts and flowers ,and Meridian, Mississippi has become a tourist attraction because of the Gypsy Queen.