Sign repaired, new lots added at Magnolia Cemetery

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Increasing interest in historic Batesville Magnolia Cemetery is reflected in continuing maintenance, improvements and fundraising efforts, with additional grave lots and spaces being added to the private historical landmark located on Batesville’s high ground between Eureka Street and Highway 51S.

Recently a group of volunteers spent time repairing a damaged cemetery sign and later measured and marked a new area for the sale of grave lots.

Additional areas being designated for grave sites include one location already open in the northwest corner overlooking Eureka Street and another at the Highway 51 entrance. Lots in multiples of four and eight are available with a few spots available for single or double graves. All grave spots are priced at $1,000 per grave.

Interested persons should call or text (662) 609-6305 and leave a message for further information.

Retired businessman Danny Jones has recently been named to the board of directors and is taking the lead for the non-profit cemetery’s fundraising. Jones is currently working to raise funds for the much needed paving of roads throughout the cemetery. Already received is a large donation that will allow paving of the main road road that connects Eureka Street and Highway 51.

Other directors include Kenneth Brasell, Jack King, Dorothy Lou Aldridge, Raymond Belk, Hal Ferrell, Buddy Gray and Rupert Howell.

Directors recently arranged for the removal of several large trees which posed threats to existing grave markers.  A sign over the Highway 51 entrance had to be repaired after a large truck trailering a backhoe used the road as a detour, tearing down the overhead sign.

Last year a historical marker was placed at the Highway 51 entrance. At a ceremony to unveil the marker,  family members of the original cemetery property donors were recognized.

In addition to road improvements and general maintenance, board members are proposing erecting a columbarium, a structure to house cremains, that may be located on the older portion of the cemetery near Eureka Street. 

Another project discussed by board members would be landscaping to screen nearby commercial lots from detracting from the cemetery’s serenity.

BMC does not receive any federal, state, or local government funding, as manpower and equipment needs for keeping grave sites manicured increases each year. The cemetery’s board contracts with a caretaker and all other work is volunteer. First Security Bank’s Trust Department administers all funds at no charge to the cemetery.

Since the 1840’s before Batesville was established and the town of Panola located on the Tallahatchie River was the area’s population center, the cemetery has served families in the area.

Batesville Magnolia Cemetery credits its name to the beautiful magnolia trees that line the grounds thanks to the Batesville Garden Club who planted the grand trees as a memorial tribute to family and friends

The cemetery was recently mapped by a company using ground penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves. Over 1,000 unmarked graves in the northwest corner were located. This area has long been thought to be the graves of influenza,  yellow fever victims and paupers. Numerous unused grave sites throughout the cemetery have also been located.

Although most older sections’ lots have been sold, a good number of grave spaces remain empty due to reasons such as families leaving the area, heirs unaware of ownership or heirs no longer needing the spaces. 

Batesville Magnolia Cemetery does not repurchase spaces, but a tax credit can be issued to those who donate grave spaces back to the cemetery to be resold.

The cemetery board asks supporters to consider honorariums or memorials to be made in the name of loved ones and family members. Tax deductible donations can be made to Batesville Magnolia Cemetery, c/o First Security Bank Trust Department, P. O. Box 1690, Batesville, MS 38606.

Photo: The archway sign over Batesville Magnolia Cemetery was recently re-installed by board members. Assisting John Forrest Franklin (second from right) with the repair are (from left) board member Danny Jones, volunteers Tony Jones, Mark Haley, and Phillip Smith.