Historic cemeteries statewide are faced with vandalism, theft, neglect, and erosion from the elements. Lack of funds for cemetery maintenance is an increasing concern, especially with privately-owned and family cemeteries. These cemeteries are too important to lose, as many of them contain exquisite marble and stone monuments and highly detailed ironwork. In November 2004, MHT hosted a Cemetery Preservation Workshop in Biloxi to help people deal with these issues. The event attracted people from all over the state to attend educational sessions led by speakers from around the nation. The workshop served as a great resource for participants to learn about the many aspects of cemetery preservation. Numerous cemeteries across the state are still suffering from vandalism and neglect; however there are some bright spots like the restoration of the Biloxi City Cemetery after extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina.
2017 Update – In Progress
With annual cemetery tours from Biloxi to Columbus and dedicated volunteer groups such as the Beulah Restoration Committee in Vicksburg and the Greenwood Cemetery Association in Jackson, work continues to preserve our state’s many historic cemeteries. While progress has been made in more urban settings, unfortunately, we are still losing cemeteries in more rural settings. According to a MDAH Archeologist, we continue to lose rural cemeteries, especially to insensitive logging practices.
Other high profile cemeteries issues include the removal of the The New Salem Cemetery in rural Hinds County in 2016. The state says it ensured that all bodies were handled with respect as it had an entire community grave site relocated to make way for the new Continental Tire Plant.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center continues to look for appropriate solutions to deal with the fact that the UMMC campus is essentially located amongst mass graves. Before the Medical Center first began construction in the mid-1950s the land was the site of the former Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum (1848-1935). For almost a century patients from the Asylum were berried in graves on what is now UMMC, this fact has made University facility expansion difficult.