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Abandoned Cemetery FAQ

1. Where is the abandoned cemetery located?


The abandoned cemetery is located in the northwest portion of a 16th section approximately
three-quarters of a mile, west of North Norrell Road (a.k.a. Old Norrell Road).
2. Who owns the property where the abandoned cemetery is located?
The property is state property, specifically 16th Section land, held in trust for the benefit of the
Clinton Public School District. The Clinton Public School District has entered into an agreement
with the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority and Continental Tire of the Americas, LLC
(Continental) to sell the property to Continental Tire later this year.
3. How old is the abandoned cemetery?
The earliest headstones are from the 1840s and the most recent is dated 1937. From all
indications, the cemetery has been abandoned for more than 80 years. The Mississippi
Department of Archives and History defines an abandoned cemetery as a cemetery not
adequately maintained by its legal owner or owners, whether religious bodies, private
individuals, or governmental agencies. In this instance, the abandoned cemetery has not been
maintained at all for at least three-quarters of a century. Additionally, the archaeological team
has discovered several unmarked graves and the team is working to determine the age of each
unmarked burial to the extent possible.
4. Is the cemetery part of the New Salem Church located nearby?
There is no New Salem Church located nearby. Although historical records indicate the
existence of such a church in 19th century, no one is certain today of the churchs exact location
as it was long ago abandoned or torn down. With respect to the cemetery, it may have been
associated with the New Salem Church at some point in the cemeterys history, but it is unclear
whether there was an association with the church when the cemetery was first established. A
deed recorded in 1852 in the Hinds County courthouse in Raymond acknowledges the
establishment of the cemetery, stating the cemetery was simply to be used as a place of
burial and public grave yard. But the deed does not mention an affiliation with any church.
5. How many burial sites have been discovered on the property?
Approximately 300 actual or potential burials have been discovered.
6. How many are marked and unmarked burial plots have been discovered?
Ninety-three (93) burial markers were mapped in the abandoned cemetery before excavations
began. These markers ranged from a few elaborate, carved stone markers to more modest
stone markers to a few simple metal markers. All other burial plots were unmarked, although
some may have been marked in the early history of the abandoned cemetery and the markers
have simply been lost over time, or if a wooden marker, long ago decayed.
7. Is there more than one cemetery on the property?
From the beginning of the project, the entire area has been studied and treated as one
cemetery regardless of whether burials were marked or unmarked. After extensive
archaeological excavation on the west side of the old road no additional burials were
discovered.

8. When did the project begin?


The archaeological mapping and excavation process began in May 2016.
9. Was the public notified before work started at the site?
Yes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lead agency for any cultural or environmental
concerns related to the development of the property, issued public notice of the project in July
2014 as required under federal regulations. Notice that the property was being rezoned from
Agricultural Use to Heavy Industrial Manufacturing was published in the Clarion-Ledger and the
Jackson Advocate newspapers in June, 2014, and again in December, 2015. Additionally,
public notice specifically notifying the public of the planned relocation of the abandoned
cemetery to the Bolton Cemetery, a perpetual care cemetery, was published for three
(3) consecutive weeks in the Clarion-Ledger and the Jackson Advocate newspapers. The
published notice commenced on March 22, 2016, in the Clarion-Ledger and on March 24, 2016
in the Jackson Advocate.
10. What is being done to identify every burial plot?
Burial locations are being identified in several ways. First, an archival review of deeds, maps,
historical and genealogical data was conducted. Second, sub-meter spatial data on all surface
funerary objects (e.g.,markers) was collected and recorded. Third, all other surface indications
of a potential burial location, such ground depressions, were mapped. Fourth, geophysical
surveys were conducted using a fluxgate gradiometer and ground-penetrating radar equipment.
Finally, potential burial locations, as suggested by either surface indications or geophysical
survey, were gently unearthed, layer by layer, under the constant supervision of a qualified
archaeologist.
11. Who is performing/overseeing the excavation?
The experienced team at the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of
Mississippi.
12. Why was the University of Mississippi chosen to conduct the archaeological work at
the site?
Since the 1970s, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) has conducted archaeological
projects across Mississippi and the greater Southeast (including cemetery project such as this
one). The CAR, which was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi
Department of Archives and History to oversee this project, is the sole Mississippi institution
possessing all of the capabilities (equipment, including ground penetrating radar, staff
archaeologists, including a biological anthropologist, and remote sensing) necessary to properly
undertake such a project from a respectful, historical, and technical perspective.
13. What happens to the remains after excavation by the archaeological team?
Any remains within intact coffins are being transported to the Bolton Cemetery for immediate
reburial under the oversight of a licensed funeral director. The few skeletal remains found
without intact coffins are cataloged based on location and information obtained in the field. The
remains are transported to the University of Mississippi Center for Archaeological Research
where they are securely stored and an analysis by the archaeological and anthropological team
will be conducted. The analysis may be able to indicate the age, gender, and health of an
individual. Once the analysis is complete, the remains will be re-interred under the oversight of a
licensed funeral director at the Bolton Cemetery.

14. Will damaged headstones or markers be repaired?


Some of the burial markers were long ago damaged or broken as a result of natural processes
such tree root growth, over more than a century. Others could have been damaged by human
contact or vandalism over the years. Many makers, although severely weathered, remain intact.
Under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cultural resource guidelines, markers must remain in
the same, unaltered condition as found on the original site. We are even prohibited from
cleaning the markers. Markers damaged to the extent that they cannot be placed
at the Bolton Cemetery, will be replaced with a new marker inscribed with any available
information about the respective burial.
15. Were any headstones or markers damaged in the excavation process?
Headstones and markers were not damaged during the excavations and each marker was
photographically documented in place before excavations began. Many of the headstones had
been damaged, presumably by natural processes, prior to the start of the excavations.
16. Why was Bolton Cemetery chosen for reinternment?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lead agency for any cultural or environmental concerns
related to the property, agreed the abandoned cemetery should be relocated in as close
proximity to its original location as possible. The Bolton Cemetery was selected as the perpetual
care cemetery with the closest proximity to the abandoned cemetery. The Clinton Cemetery, the
second closest cemetery, did not have adequate space available.
17. Who is paying for the excavation and relocation of the burials?
The Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority is paying for the excavation and relocation of
the abandoned cemetery, as part of the site-preparation costs allocated for the Continental Tire
project.
18. When will the relocation of all burial sites be completed?
The removal of all discovered burials at the abandoned cemetery should be completed on or
about Sept. 5, 2016. The relocation of all burials to the Bolton Cemetery should occur in early
2017, once the University of Mississippi Center for Archaeological Research completes its
analysis.
19. How will this reinternment help with historical preservation?
The cemetery was long ago abandoned and has not been maintained for at least three-quarters
of a century. Many of the burial markers on the property were toppled and covered in soil, leaf
litter and other such natural debris. The unmarked graves were no longer clearly identifiable
except with the assistance of trained archaeological professionals and very sensitive
geophysical equipment. In short, the abandoned cemetery was becoming more lost with each
passing year, especially with respect to the unmarked burials. The detailed study,
archaeological work and analysis of burials being conducted by the University of Mississippi
Center for Archaeological Research, and the undocumented history discovered as part of such
process during the project, will help to recover and preserve what would likely have been lost
altogether within another generation. Upon completion of the project, the cemetery will no longer
be abandoned, but will preserved in a perpetual care cemetery open to visits by known and
potential ancestors of those buried there, as well as future generations. Many of the findings
from this preservation project also will be recorded in the Hinds County Chancery Clerks Office
to provide a historical record of the abandoned cemetery.