Honoring the Beulah Cemeteryby Representative Bennie G. Thompson
Posted on 2014-01-07
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor one
of the most intact historic properties associated with the growth and
development of the African-American community in the historic Vicksburg
and Warren County, Mississippi, area.
Beulah Cemetery was established in 1884 by the Vicksburg Tabernacle #19 Independent Order of Brothers and Sisters of Love and [[Page E6]] Charity, who bought the land from Harvey and Lucy Shannon for $1,000. It originally encompassed 52 acres; however, through sales and transfers to the National Park Service and individuals, the entire property is now 14.5 acres. From its establishment in 1884 until the 1940's, the cemetery was the most important cemetery for Vicksburg-area African Americans and remains today a visible landmark for the black community. Blacks were buried in churchyards or on private land until Beulah Cemetery became the main cemetery for Vicksburg-area African Americans.
The African American community has historically constituted about half of Vicksburg's population. Beulah provides significant historical information about this important group of citizens through its gravestones. So few historic resources concerning the area of the African American community remains therefore it's increasing the significance of Beulah Cemetery.
The cemetery is the final resting place for members of the most prominent black families in Vicksburg, including ancestors of almost every native black in the Vicksburg area. The cemetery documents the existence of generations of people for whom otherwise there might be no surviving material available.
Among the prominent people buried at Beulah are the founders of the black funeral homes (Jeffersons/Dillons); G. M. McIntyre, principal of Cherry Street School and school namesake; Robert Banks Marshall, the city's first black postal employee; and William Tillmon Jones, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, 1889-1906.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the Beulah Cemetery as they strive to preserve African American history in the Vicksburg and Warren County, Mississippi, area.