Former Teacher Fighting To Save Old Cemetery

It's nestled in the heart of the upscale Stone Bridge Subdivision in the Carriere community. Surrounded by homes sits a circular patch of land. Just beyond the trees you'll find the Household of Ruth Cemetery. It was a place where black people were buried in the early 1900s.

Helen Clunie, a former teacher, is spearheading a campaign to preserve the cemetery.

"I'd love to see all of the undergrowth and all of the leaves and everything just cleaned up completely and maybe plant some flowers and make a nice historical place out of it," Clunie said.

The headstones date back to 1910. But Clunie has spent the past three years researching the cemetery history and believes at one time it was much larger, and likely had much older grave sites. She says many were paved over to make way for roads.

"We can't do anything about what's already been done, but we do want to save this section of it," Clunie said. "We do know we're walking on graves that are not marked and we have a man down from NASA who wants to come up and help us mark off the graves here."

Clunie added the Household of Ruth was an old organization that had ties to the underground railroad.

"During slavery days it was women trying to escape slavery. The white conductors would help these women back then during slavery time. They would bring them here and help hide them 'til they could get them to a black community."

Many of the descendants of those buried here have relatives still living in Pearl River County. James Nixon found three of his ancestors.

"Our generations to come, they can see what we have left back," Nixon said. "I'd like to see it cleaned up and beautified."

"These people who are buried, their descendants were people I grew up with," Clunie said. "My mother was postmaster; my daddy was depot agent, and it's just home and home people."

Clunie says more than 200 historic cemeteries in the state that have been lost. She says she plans to do everything she can to save this one. Clunie recently marked a victory in her efforts to save the Household of Ruth Cemetery. The old graveyard is now registered with the State Department of Archives and History.

If you'd like to help in restoration efforts you can contact Helen Clunie at 601-798-4244.

Story by Al Showers

Posted by Glenn Cummins