History behind once hidden cemetery; community cleans it up

Photo by staff

POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 11:10pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 8:37am

Just a few months ago, an unknown graveyard was covered with fallen trees and erosion.

Neighbors were concerned. NBC33 set out to find out who's responsible for the overgrown lot on Old Hammond Highway.

"It's an eyesore. Let them rest in peace," said two neighbors back in December.

Before public works stepped in, one church decided to do something.

"A lot of the ladies in our church began to say that we really needed to do something," said Pastor William Bonee.

The First Church of the Nazerene did the legwork, then cleared away years of brush.

"It's totally different today than when we first came out here," added Legislative Aide for Councilman Ryan Heck of District 11, Matt Watson.

They didn't do it on their own--the department of public works, dozens from the national guard's youth challenge, the Tara homeowner's association, and even loved ones of those buried pitched in too.

"So it would be a place of respect, a place of honor, a place where families can come pay respects to their loved one. It's not just a church project, but a community project," said Bonee.

There's a story behind this cemetery.

"We've got people who have been buried back here, there's no record of it, folks that have fought in the civil war, their family and friends are buried here," mentioned Watson.

David Davis joined the Missouri 65th Colored Infantry back in 1863. From there he was discharged to Baton Rouge. He's the one who started what's known as "Little Misery." Some of the burials date back to the late 1800's and early 1900's.

"It just means a lot to the history of the state of Louisiana that otherwise, you wouldn't even be able to have access to," added Watson.

Before, you couldn't even see past the first couple rows of plots. Now, the entire acre is in view. New, recently placed flowers at an old gravesite are proof that someone appreciates it.

"But to come back here and to be able to have a moment of peace and to be able to get to it without it being a fight to get back, and to be able to put flowers down and know that the flowers are going to stay there, I mean, it's really got to mean a lot to the family," said Watson.

They also see it as a chance to bring a little closure to the loved ones left behind.

"As you can see, it's really paid off," said Bonee.

The church is planning future clean up efforts. Updates will be provided on NBC33 and here on nbc33tv.com as they become available. 

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