Your help is needed saving Tate historic cemetery

Published 7:05 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

By Yolande Robbins

Community correspondent

Retired Army First Sergeant James L. Brown survived a helicopter crash and 11 surgeries from his combat service in Vietnam.

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On Tuesday, he walked all over Tate Cemetery, calling out to his wife, on the phone, the names, birth and death dates on the 43 headstones he had just finished counting.

It was his latest effort to help save African American cemeteries. 

Mr. Brown is also president of The Beulah Cemetery Restoration Committee, where he is overseeing mutual efforts by the Park, the City, and residents to save that historic place.

 And on that same evening, he went before the Executive Committee of Tyner-Ford Post 213 of the American Legion asking permission to appear before their next general meeting to solicit help in tending the six military graves he›d identified.

 His hope, of course, is that their involvement will eventually extend to all who are buried there.

 The very next day, a native Vicksburger who’d lived most of her life in New Jersey, told how excitedly she had followed the news about Tate’s re-discovery in The Vicksburg Post. She went immediately to her Facebook page, asking and inviting fellow-residents to come and help clean the place, re-seed the ground, and plant grass; even flowers perhaps.

And she was heartbroken not to receive a single reply, which led to her conviction that people generally express more interest than they’re willing to show.

Tate Cemetery, where there is a Reverend Tate buried; where, likely, a long, private ownership preceded Frontage Road; where, perhaps, the site itself was donated by a family named Tate: all these possibilities are revived, perhaps rescued, by people like Mr. Brown and this lady.

 Many of Tate’s tombstones are cracked and half-sunk; etched letters are fading from names; erosion is an expanding problem; and grass keeps right on growing.

The city is committed to keeping it cut on a regular basis. But care beyond that will probably be in people like Mr. Brown.

 The extension of service into civilian life is a hallmark of military tradition. So it was natural and necessary, he said, for a soldier to walk among those graves. Graveyards are the last vestiges of a meaningful past to individuals and to community, and to Mr. Brown, when that’s lost, that’s everything.

 A cemetery in use more than 100 years likely holds more than 43 people. That in itself is a hint of the history this graveyard contains. Forty-three graves there are marked.

Mr. Brown and Linda Stevens will be taking the lead on this project. To contact Mr. Brown for help or information, call 1-580-695-0082.

Another resource for help and information is Mr. Ernest Galloway, 601-618-4455.  

Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at