Volunteers try to preserve thousands of graves at historic Hanco - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Volunteers try to preserve thousands of graves at historic Hancock Co. cemetery

Volunteers are working tirelessly at one of the largest and oldest Hancock County cemeteries to identify the thousands of people buried there. (Photo source: WLOX) Volunteers are working tirelessly at one of the largest and oldest Hancock County cemeteries to identify the thousands of people buried there. (Photo source: WLOX)
Dorty Necaise and Breezy Bice spend more than 20 hours a week at Rotten Bayou Cemetery in Diamondhead. (Photo source: WLOX) Dorty Necaise and Breezy Bice spend more than 20 hours a week at Rotten Bayou Cemetery in Diamondhead. (Photo source: WLOX)
This week, they placed one for a War of 1812 veteran who they both recently learned is one of their ancestors. (Photo source: WLOX) This week, they placed one for a War of 1812 veteran who they both recently learned is one of their ancestors. (Photo source: WLOX)
Another project the duo would like to take on at the cemetery is restoring or preserving the oldest marked grave from 1851. (Photo source: WLOX) Another project the duo would like to take on at the cemetery is restoring or preserving the oldest marked grave from 1851. (Photo source: WLOX)
If you believe some of your family members are buried at the cemetery or you would like to help, you can contact Breezy Bice at (228) 493-1043 or Dorty Necaise at (228) 493-7504. The group also has a Facebook page. (Photo source: WLOX) If you believe some of your family members are buried at the cemetery or you would like to help, you can contact Breezy Bice at (228) 493-1043 or Dorty Necaise at (228) 493-7504. The group also has a Facebook page. (Photo source: WLOX)
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Volunteers are working tirelessly at one of the largest and oldest Hancock County cemeteries to identify the thousands of people buried there.

Dorty Necaise and Breezy Bice spend more than 20 hours a week at Rotten Bayou Cemetery in Diamondhead. A lot of their time is spent talking with people, doing research to find out who is buried where to make sure they are not forgotten.

"The Ladners are here; their graves are unmarked," Necaise said. "But this whole area here, there were burials here. We have pictures."

Necaise pointed out one of many areas where you cannot even tell anyone is buried underneath. There are also other plots that are blocked off, but don't have a headstone. All spots were once marked with a metal grave marker, but not all of them are left standing, and some can no longer be read.

"It's really disheartening because there's an old saying: You are never truly dead until you are forgotten. And a lot of these graves, they have been forgotten," Necaise said. "If we can mark as many as we can, we can give them back their name, give them back their identity."

"Our goal is to make sure, hopefully in the long run, that everyone out there has a headstone," Bice said.

Necaise and Bice will place around 40 headstones in the coming weeks. This week, they placed one for a War of 1812 veteran who they both recently learned is one of their ancestors.

"Really, the awesome thing about that is his grave has not had a headstone on it in 159 years," Necaise said.

This cemetery is the final resting place for around 2,000 people, and about 200 of those are veterans. One day, they would like to have flags placed on all of the veterans' graves.

Another project the duo would like to take on at the cemetery is restoring or preserving the oldest marked grave from 1851.

"The foundation is starting to give way, the marble is actually starting to pull away, and we are afraid it is going to give out," Necaise said.

They are looking for help on that project and on several other projects they have planned.

"We would like to get more families involved with helping," Bice said. "You know, the older generation comes out here a lot, but the younger generations are the ones we want to keep involved, so for the future they help preserve and maintain the cemetery."

"Not only is this cemetery a very important piece of Hancock County's history, but it's also an important piece of the Gulf Coast's history," Necaise said.

By placing headstones, and creating detailed records, Necaise and Bice hope these people and their stories are never forgotten.

If you believe some of your family members are buried at the cemetery or you would like to help, you can contact Breezy Bice at (228) 493-1043 or Dorty Necaise at (228) 493-7504. You can also find out what's happening at the cemetery and learn about those buried there by checking out their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/rottenbayoucemetery

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