The Snowden Spirit Series is sponsored by the Snowden Family in honor of the creative spirit of Memphis.

It’s a writing contest based in reality.

Elmwood Cemetery is filled with stories. They astound. They inspire. They remind us of our roots, our successes, our failures, and they give us our identity.

We’re inviting you to write your own story – historical fiction – about the people buried at Elmwood. You can choose an individual, a couple, or a group, so long as they touch the subject matter of the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.

For your consideration, here is a list of some individuals who lived during the epidemic and are buried in Elmwood Cemetery. This list is not comprehensive, but may offer a starting point on your research:

Constance and Her Companions

Mayor David Park Hadden

Annie Cook

Mattie Stephenson

Dr. William and Mrs. Lula Armstrong

Dr. Robert Wood Mitchell

Robert Church, Sr.

References may include The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby, Fever Season by Jeanette Keith, Graveyard Girl by Anna Meyers, and Beale Street Dynasty by Preston Lauterbach. There is a world of information available online about the yellow fever epidemics of the 1870s in Memphis.

Your limit is 1,000 words.

The entry fee per submission is $20. The fee may be paid using this page.

There will be three prizes awarded. Third place will receive $250. Second place will receive $500.

The first-place winner will receive $750, and your submission will be adapted for a character who will appear in the Soul of the City Tour this October 8th and 9th. Your original submission will also be published in the Elmwood Cemetery newsletter and online at

Submissions are due Tuesday, July 6th at 4:00 pm. Submissions may be emailed to

Winners will be announced July 20th.