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Cedar Hill receives endowment

Published 12:00am Friday, July 4, 2014

A former Vicksburg resident has left an endowment totaling about $30,000 to the city for Cedar Hill Cemetery.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday that former longtime resident Mildred Miller Roshore had left 10 percent of her trust to be used for the cemetery after she died in 2008. She was living in Clinton at the time of her death.

“Because Mrs. Roshore and her family had lived in Vicksburg for so long, she developed a deep attachment to the city and she wanted to do something for the community. She decided to help the cemetery as a way to give back,” said Ashley Wells, the trustee for Roshore’s estate.

Thomas said the city will receive about $25,000 of the money within 60 days, and the remainder in quarterly payments of about $580 begin in 2015 and running through June 2018 for a total of $30,000.

City officials are taking a wait-and-see approach on spending the money until they determine what is specified under the terms of the endowment, but Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson indicated they have some ideas how they believe the money could be spent. North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said he is waiting for an opinion from Thomas before discussing any plans.

Flaggs would like to see the money used for a benevolent fund to assist the poor with burials.

Under state law, counties must establish an indigent burial policy for what are commonly called “pauper funerals” to cover the cost of burying someone who is determined indigent by the chancery clerk.

County Administrator John Smith said the county pays $500 to funeral homes to cover the cost of the funeral, and the city provides the labor to dig and close the grave. City sexton Venable Moore said Cedar Hill has two areas set aside for pauper burials.

“I’d like to see if we can do that, but I don’t know if we can,” Flaggs said. “We’ll have to see.”

“We’ve got some roads in the cemetery that need work,” Thompson said. “They need to be paved and repaired. I think that would be a good way to use the money. That way, more people could benefit from it.”

The trust fund, Wells said, is composed of money left to Mrs. Roshore and her sister, Jo Nell Miller, after their brothers, Jack and Louis Miller, died, and from a trust set up by Roshore and her husband of 50 years, Edwin. Roshore’s brothers are buried at Cedar Hill. The cemetery funds became available after Edwin Roshore died on January 2014. Jo Nell Miller had died in December 2013.

According to available U.S. Census records, the Millers had been living in Vicksburg at least since 1940. Their parents were Joseph L Stokes and Norma Ruth Miller. Roshore moved to Clinton with her husband about 50 years ago, Wells said.

Louis Miller died in Vicksburg in 1997 at the age of 79. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and was a retired engineer from the Waterways Experiment Station. He was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from World War II, and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Jack Miller died in 1999 at the age of 83. He was also a member of First Presbyterian Church, and was retired from the Vicksburg Post Office. He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, and was a member of the VFW and the American Legion.

Jo Nell Miller retired from Sears in Vicksburg and spent the last 12 years of her life at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison. She and her sister donated their bodies to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Roshore is now buried next to her husband.

Cedar Hill occupies 155 acres fronting Sky Farm Avenue. It was initially plotted in 1837, 12 years after the city was incorporated. It is divided by Lovers Lane, with 111 acres of it on the east side of the street.

The cemetery is divided into sections, called divisions, and is the final resting place for black and white residents, and 5,000 Confederate soldiers in Soldiers’ Rest. The number of people buried at Cedar Hill is estimated at between 20,000 and 25,000, though no exact figures can be found.

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