Historic cemeteries getting annual clean-up

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Historic burial grounds in Ocean Springs are getting some extra attention this week. The city is holding its annual cemetery clean-up.

Evergreen Cemetery is located along the south shore of Fort Bayou. Bellande Cemetery is just down the street from the police station on Dewey Avenue. Both historic sites are getting spruced-up.

The sounds of weed eaters and chainsaws echo off rows of stones in Evergreen Cemetery. This sacred, historic ground will undergo a thorough clean-up the next few days.

"It's a beautiful piece of property. It is very large. I'd venture to say there's probably four thousand graves in there," said city Public Works Director Andre Kaufman.

Public works employees and state inmates provide the labor for the annual project. Silent statues oversee the progress of the busy work crews.

Evergreen Cemetery traces generations of historic Ocean Springs. Grave stones date back to the 1700s and all the plots have long ago been spoken for.

"All the sites there have been sold for years. And they've passed down I guess, like Super Bowl tickets. Those burial spots stay in the family," said Kaufman.

Bellande Cemetery is also a part of the clean-up project. The much smaller city cemetery has been full for several years. Graves there date back to the early to mid 1800s.

Though Bellande looks much different than Evergreen, the work assignment is the same.

"A lot of leaves. A lot of limbs. Things we just don't get the time we'd like to during the normal work week," says Kaufman.

The city clean-up of the cemeteries will prepare the burial grounds for All Saints Day on November first. It's a holy day of obligation for Catholics; a day traditionally set aside to decorate the graves of loved ones.

This annual work among the dearly departed, should be finished in the next few days.

Evergreen was originally referred to as "The Catholic Cemetery." There are a number of priests buried on that historic property overlooking the bayou.