Not a cemetery, not a graveyard, and certainly not!

There are two cemeteries that I would like to introduce to you. The first being St. Mary’s cemetery in Bayou Goula, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, which was discovered as abandoned and vandalized in 2000. I’m calling St. Mary’s cemetery – not a cemetery anymore as it was relocated. Christian Williamson wrote about this cemetery back in 2005, Sacred Trust: The Voluntary Removal and Reburial of Human Remains from a Historic Cemetery in Louisiana. This thesis paper is available for everyone to read and enjoy on the internet. Christian wrote, “This thesis presents the project in its entirety with the hope that it will provide a helpful blueprint for both anthropologists and family members who might find themselves involved in the rescue of ancestral remains from historic cemeteries.” St. Mary’s was founded in 1868 by John Hampden Randolph. The thesis describes the actions taken to rebury those interred at St. Mary’s to Nottaway Plantation, the Randolph family historical home. This cemetery was both abandoned and quite isolated. The 31MB PDF file also contains photographs, epitaphs, and archeo. evidence. I found it a facinating read full of information.

The second cemetery that comes to mind as a subject of a thesis paper (or several thesis papers) is Breda Town Cemetery, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. I’d refer to this one as not a graveyard. Recently, a newspaper article was written stating that the Breda Town Cemetery Association had teamed up with University students from Northwestern in order to both conduct a cemetery survey and provide the students with an area of practice and study in the Masters of Arts Program. It is located in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana and is listed on the Natchitoches Parish LAGenWeb parish page as being an African American cemetery without a transcription available. Breda Town began as the plantation home of Jean Philippe Breda and his wife, Marie Dranguet, in 1840. After the plantation dissolved, former slaves made their homes in Breda Town, which is now within the city limits of Natchitoches. I hope to read more in the future of Breda Town Cemetery as the survey is completed, mapped and studied.

Williamson noted differences between “cemeteries” and “graveyards” and cited several helpful sources. He stated, “Before examining the archaeological information available within an historic cemetery, we should discuss what the term cemetery means. Strangstad (Strangstad, Lynette, c. 1988, A Graveyard Preservation Primer. American Association for State and Local History, Nashville, Tennessee) provides a traditional definition for cemetery as “a place set apart for burying the dead.” Strangstad uses the term graveyard to distinguish early historic burial grounds dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century from modern cemeteries. The modern use of the term cemetery comes from the Latin word coemeteirum, and the Greek translation meaning “dormitory” or “sleeping place.” (Morris, Richard , c. 1983, The Church in British Archaeology. Research Report 47, The Council for British Archaeology, London, England Morris). And so I will make a note of the differences for future reference.

Should I be blogging only seventeenth to nineteenth century graveyards in Louisiana, since this is a “graveyard” blog? Certainly, not!


About Louisiana Genealogy Admin

I manage several RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards, support Louisiana Cemetery Preservation, am a former Louisiana and Mississippi librarian, have been researching genealogy of my family since 1988, and write and promote several blogs supporting either Louisiana genealogy or Louisiana cemeteries.
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One Response to Not a cemetery, not a graveyard, and certainly not!

  1. Judith Richards Shubert says:

    I found the definitions of “graveyard” and “cemetery” most interesting. In fact, your entire post was very information.

    I have ancestors buried in Sabine Parish, around the small town of Many, Louisiana. I have some photos of the little family cemetery if I can find them, I’ll post them on my Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges and then send them to you if you would like.

    Judith Richards Shubert

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