- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Local taxpayers may end up paying for a new “final” resting place for some late residents of Lafayette County.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is asking the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors for a piece of county property which they can use to relocate the old paupers’ cemetery, also known as the Lafayette County Poor House Cemetery. The graveyard is located off Mississippi Highway 7 South.

MDOT believes there are between 15 and 20 graves on the location.

“We’re asking the county for a place to put them, essentially,” MDOT Utility Engineer Kelly Standard said. “Whether we have to buy the land or what. Now, it will have to be maintained. If we get some land from y’all, you will have to agree to keep it up.”

The MDOT road project that will interfere with the graves is the construction of a frontage road that will be built as part of the expansion of Highway 7 south of Oxford. It is a two-part project for which the first project would not disrupt the graves, but the second one will.

Construction is not scheduled to start on the second project until 2020.

Standard said it should be possible to bore under the graves to make room for the electrical lines without disrupting those buried in the old cemetery.

MDOT is willing to pay all cost to do this,” Standard said.

Before they can move forward, MDOT has asked the University of Mississippi to assist them by using radar to determine just how many graves are in the old cemetery and how deep they are.

“As soon as people hear that this is happening, someone is going to claim somebody,” Supervisor Robert Blackmon said.

Usually those buried in the paupers’ cemetery either had no relatives in the area or their relatives would not claim the bodies.

Local historian Jack Mayfield remembers the house as being huge, but it was also a place that few people spoke about because it gave them an uneasy feeling to discuss it.

“The only markers are some sand stones and you can see the depressions in the ground where they’ve settled,” Standard said. “From what we understand, there are no records of who they are that we’ve been made aware of.”

While MDOT has not found any records of those buried at the site, a website, https://www.findagrave.com, contains a list of six people who are reportedly buried in the Lafayette County Poorhouse Cemetery.

Those listed include: James A. “Jim” Bryant, who died in 1950; William Hodge, who died in 1880; Ellen Parks, who died in 1871 with her children, who were also considered paupers; Col. William Thompson, who died in 1875; Polly Warler, who died in 1875; and Julia Wilson, who died in 1875.

MDOT will have to go before chancery court to get approval to remove and rebury the remains of the graves. So far, state transit officials have not yet made an appointment with the court to discuss this matter.

“It’s not something that we have to make a decision on today,” Standard told supervisors Monday.

The supervisors said they will review the options for relocating the graves after the radar survey is completed and the number of graves has been determined.


Information from: Oxford Eagle, https://www.oxfordeagle.com

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