Unveiling of historical cemetery marker set

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Official unveiling of a historical marker at Batesville Magnolia Cemetery (BMC) on Highway 51 South is scheduled for Thursday, May 20, at 11 a.m. Descendants of the original land donor and representatives of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) are expected to attend.

Everyone is invited. The marker is near the Highway 51 entrance.

The sign was erected in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic caused the unveiling ceremony to be postponed. BMC Trustee Dorothy Lou Aldridge has worked with the MDAH to have the marker become a reality.

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Shellie O’Keefe Harrison, great-great-great granddaughter of Cypressa Vance Rootes, has made plans to attend as well as her brother, Rush O’Keefe. Both who were raised in Batesville.

Retired MDAH official Jim Woodrick  and current Director of Programs and Communication at MDAH Brother Rogers have also made arrangements to be present.

A private cemetery, Batesville Magnolia was created with two acres of public burial ground for the people of Batesville.  Deeded by Cypressa Vance Rootes before the Civil War, the land had been purchased from Indian Agents by the Elisha Q. Vance family.  For several decades, adjoining acreage was purchased from other families until the cemetery included over 14 acres.

Over the years individuals and civic organizations have kept the cemetery viable. The Batesville Garden Club planted magnolias around the property frontage on Highway 51 and Eureka Street and Batesville Women’s Club led the drive to put new gates at the Eureka and Highway 51 entrances.

The cemetery has been cared for over the 170 years of existence through sales of gravesite lots and donations as BMC does not receive federal, state or local government funds.

The cemetery is governed by a board of trustees and all finances are handled through First Security Bank’s Trust Department at no charge. The board contracts with one part-time groundskeeper for year-round maintenance.

Trustees have for the past few years sought donations as the money held in trust has dwindled with low interest rates and low gravesite sales due to the popularity of cremation as well as other local cemetery options.

The trustee board asks that you support Batesville’s most history-laden cemetery with a tax deductible donation to BMC, C/O FSB Trust Depart., P.O. Box 1690, Batesville, MS 38606 or online www.batesvillemagnoliacemetery.com and click on the Donate Now icon.