It’s often said that one of man’s biggest fears is to be forgotten after he’s gone.
If Edgar Sims could speak to us, he could explain how it feels.
Sims, who died in 1939 at age 32, is one of many whose final resting place is hidden among the trees and vines in the woods in a section of Glenwood Cemetery that has been neglected for decades.
Sims’ gravesite was clearly once maintained. His headstone, which is now overturned and slowly sliding downhill, identified him as the son of Amanda Johnson Lonzo and included the line “A lovely flower has faded.”
There are many other signs of graves that were once maintained.
An old iron fence surrounding a plot is now broken and propping up a dead tree.
A bench where mourners once sat to remember Hattie Lattimer is now covered with vines and overlooking a grave that is sinking in.
There are markers that were clearly expensive that are now hidden among the vegetation. Some are overturned. The headstone for Johnnie Giles, who died in 1932, is leaning forward due to a tree that has grown up behind it and since died.
A large brick monument is now crumbling and covered with fallen trees.
But at least the names of those of those former Yazooans are still readable, even if they’re difficult to access.
In some places there are spots where the ground has sunken in what appears to be gravesites with no visible markers. There are also graves only marked by the small metal stands that usually mark a grave until a headstone is delivered. The metal is now rusted, and the name tags they held are long gone.
The identities of those who are buried in those sites may be lost forever.
Mayor Diane Delaware said she only recently learned that the neglected graves existed.
“They were black folks, these were colored folks’ graves,” Delaware said. “I say ‘colored people’ because that’s what people said at the time.”
Cemetery Sexton Prentiss Young said that he is aware of the graves, but they have been neglected for so long that he doesn’t have the resources to restore the area.
“You can’t clean it up when it’s been like that for 40 years,” Young said. “You have trees that are growing up around graves that haven’t been taken care of. If you go out there cutting down trees and uprooting stuff, you’re going to end up pulling someone out of the ground.”
Delaware said the city owns the property where the graves are located, and it is part of the cemetery. She said the graves should be properly maintained.
Ward 2 Alderman Dr. Jack Varner agrees.
“If it’s our cemetery, we need to maintain it,” Varner said. “Maybe we can’t cut the trees, but we could trim around the graves and clean up around them.”
In addition to trees and other growth, there has also been significant erosion in some areas. Young said he doesn’t see how the cemetery department could correct the problems with its available budget.
“We need to see if we could find some funding,” Young said.
“Maybe we could get some help from the Historical Society,” Delaware said.