111-year-old cemetery site cleared thanks to city contract

Published 10:22 am Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tate Cemetery is getting cleaned up.

Equipment and employees for Quality Cut Lawn Service LLC have been working in the old black cemetery at the corner of South Frontage Road and Cypress Centre Drive in front of the El Sombrero restaurant, cutting and removing vegetation and small trees that have hidden tombstones and markers in the cemetery for several years.

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“I saw it; it looks good,” Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

“I appreciate it,” said Sherry Fisher, a retired teacher whose grandfathers are buried there. “I’ve been trying to get it done.”

The 111-year-old, 1-acre private cemetery’s condition has been a problem for previous administrations that wanted to clean it.

Under state law, a city can go on private property and clear it if the site is declared a menace to health and safety, but it must notify the property owner of its intentions and hold a hearing. City officials, however, were unable to locate the heirs of the original owners to make the notification.

According to Warren County tax records, the cemetery, listed as “Cemetery-Jonestown or Tate,” was started in 1905, when the area was known as the Jonestown community. The records do not show an owner and provide no contact information.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen, however, was able to work around the problem, getting a local bill passed in the Legislature earlier this year that gave the city the authority to cut the grass in the cemetery as needed.

“What we’re going to do is watch and see how the grass grows so we can determine the best times to cut it and protect those markers in the cemetery,” Flaggs said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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