Rundown cemetery is resting place for Greenwood founders

Published 10:27 am Friday, December 16, 2016

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — An old cemetery is becoming an eyesore in the Mississippi Delta.

Local leaders say they’re doing what they can to maintain the plot, but time is taking a toll.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that municipal officials closed Greenwood Cemetery in 1904. Several of the city’s founders are buried there, and some gravesites date back about 200 years.

Email newsletter signup

A few years ago, the city purchased a chemical adhesive that was intended to help prevent cracks in grave markers from spreading. But because of the age of the markers, “once it starts crumbling, it can’t be helped,” Mayor Carolyn McAdams said.

The city mows the cemetery and removes fallen limbs, but some fencing surrounding family plots had to be removed to gain access to nearby trees.

“We do the best we can,” McAdams said.

Recently, when Hal Barwick of Minter City drove past the Greenwood Cemetery, he was concerned.

“It looked like a bomb had gone off. Markers were knocked down all over the place,” Barwick said.

Greenwood historian Donny Whitehead said the cemetery could be the victim of vandals, time or mowing equipment. Once it was closed, residents began using the Odd Fellows Cemetery in another part of town.

Greenwood Cemetery continued to be a source of concern long after it was closed. An article from the Nov. 5, 1936, issue of the Greenwood Commonwealth decried the cemetery’s condition at that time.

“The founders of the city of Greenwood lie buried there — men and women who sacrificed much and toiled unceasingly to carve a habitation for themselves and their descendants out of the wilderness,” the article read. “The names of these men and women, whose deeds are inseparably woven into the early history of Greenwood, should be preserved and enshrined in the memory of Greenwood citizens today. Instead, many of them are almost obliterated by time and weather on crumbling marble headstones. Their graves are overrun with brambles and vines, and they lie forgotten by the community, to their building of which they dedicated their lives.”