Community Comes Together To Bring Dignity To Century-Old Cemetery - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/02/02

Community Comes Together To Bring Dignity To Century-Old Cemetery

After years of neglect a final resting place has been given new life. Early Saturday morning about two dozen people arrived at the Ramsey Cemetery in Harrison County on Highway 15 near the Stone County line. The graveyard was so overgrown that it couldn't even be seen from the road. A spirit of hope, family, and faith changed all that. Using Buzz saws, weed eaters, rakes and even their hands volunteers did everything it took to free the Ramsey Cemetery of the weeds that had taken it over.

Brenda Jamison, a volunteer, said "Feels good to see it cleaned up because when I walked up here this morning you couldn't even see some of the graves that were here they grew up that bad."

When Lorabell Santa Cruz called out for help to clean up the graveyard, twenty or so friends, family and neighbors didn't hesitate to answer. Santa Cruz says things bad after someone claiming to own the property blocked off the access road. For six years, no one could get in to care for the graves. A court gave relatives the right to go back but it was up to them to make the most of it.

"This is our history here," said Van Whitely, Jr., a volunteer. " My great-grandmother. My great-great-grandmother, great-uncles and. great-gtreat-uncles. They're all buried here."

Faded gravestones and fresh memories date the cemetery back to the late 1800s. Through times where many parts of the South struggled with racial tensions some people say the Ramsey Cemetery was different.

Lorabell Santa Cruz said "If there was a Black person buried in here every White person in this neighborhood up here was at the funeral and the same way with the White."

Blacks and Whites rest on opposite sides but on Saturday the overgrowth and color lines came down. Everyone worked side by side.

The Santa Cruz family says they went to court and proved that the public had a right to use Ramsey Cemetery because it was deeded to the state. Now the family hopes Harrison County will take over the property and maintain it.

by Danielle Thomas

Powered by Frankly