Follow up: Hidden cemetery gets attention from volunteers and former caretaker
POSTED: Friday, December 27, 2013 - 12:10am
UPDATED: Monday, December 30, 2013 - 10:32pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — An abandoned graveyard on Old Hammond Highway is getting some help. Some of the graves go back to the 1800's. We got to see the damage and talked to the people who are going to keep it from staying that way.
"This breaks my heart," said Sharon Lane of the Baton Rouge First Church of the Nazarene as she pointed to a severely cracked and sunken concrete tomb. "Now that is someone's loved one there."
Sunken dirt, weeds, and overgrowth were the focus of last week's report on an abandoned graveyard that had neighbors concerned. Shelly Meadows and Coretta Brown had mentioned "It's an eyesore" and "Just let them rest in peace with some kind of dignity." The Department of Public Works was also ready to intervene. David Guillory was in the process of "[getting the owners] to clean up the property, if not, we will have to step in." But before the city's ten day deadline hit for the owners to step up, viewers reached out to us on nbc33tv.com with a clue to who's responsible.
"We were just two ladies on the mission board at our church, just thinking, 'Oh boy! we're going to take on this project,' here we are, you know, so we go down to the courthouse and we went to the basement to the map department," said Lane.
They researched old maps, addresses, and phone numbers. They weren't the only ones looking for the owners of the graveyard that wasn't even registered on the Louisiana Cemetery Board Database.
"Look, the historical society has been trying to find out who owns this cemetery. 'I don't have a name for the cemetery.' But he did give us a lady's name, because of that name and calling her, that's when Mr. Williams called me."
And that's when we called him. Mr. Robert Williams was the last known caretaker at the cemetery. And while he was unable to interview, he gave an inkling into the past of the graveyard, now known as "Little Misery."
Lane exclaimed, "Look! It's from World War II," as she dusted leaves off the stone. He says the land belongs to a family related to a Ben Davis. Some graves date back to the 1800's, including two belonging to his parents. He cleaned the plots as a Good Samaritan, but some time ago, an illness prevented him from keeping it up. Now, Sharon and her mission group are hoping to carry Little Misery on.
"I, too, have buried a son and two grandsons and I think about the people that have lost love ones and that are buried here, and they too visit," she added. Perfect for us to be able to give back."
One of the first things Lane says they'll do is place a sign on the land so that "everyone will remember 'Little Misery."