HomeNewsHollywood Cemetery needs families’ help in cleanup

Hollywood Cemetery needs families’ help in cleanup

Madison County Historian Ricky Long is one of the board members for Hollywood Cemetery on Hollywood Drive.

The cemetery’s board partnered with the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution and others this past Saturday to clean some of the gravestones to help keep some of the older gravesites preserved.

But Long said the cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is in danger of losing its support.

“The cemetery is in a unique situation,” Long said. “Everyone things the City of Jackson or Madison County or some other official entity owns it, but the fact is it’s a private cemetery that isn’t necessarily run by the board, but its upkeep and supervision is done by those of us on the board and other interested people.”

So when a person is buried in the cemetery, that person’s family are technically the people responsible for the upkeep of that grave.

“Those of us on the board do what we can with fundraising and workdays, but there’s only so much you can do,” Long said. “And this is a big area with nearly 12,000 graves in it.

“We have been able to pay a small team of people who keep the grass cut, but it takes two weeks for them to cut the entire cemetery, so as soon as they get it done, it’s time to start all over again and cut it again.”

The cemetery is an older cemetery that’s near capacity. The few lots that already don’t have someone buried in them are already marked as part of family plots. So there’s not much of a chance of revenue automatically being generated.

To make matters worse, a number of gravestones have been damaged with varying degrees of severity by storms in recent years that have blown over trees, causing damage to monuments nearby.

Some gravestones were knocked off their foundation. Others were pushed off the ground with a root that had grown beneath them came up when the tree blew over.

Either way, putting the gravestones back upright can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

“These stones are heavy – 500 or 600 pounds for a normal sized one most of the time – so it takes equipment and someone who knows how to operate it properly to put everything back where it goes,” Long said. “The good thing is that we’ve got someone coming in to do a lot of that work for a few stones later in the summer – late July or August.

“So if any family is aware of work that needs to be done, we can get the work for them on the schedule and since everything will already be here, they can get it done for less money than if they’re getting only theirs done by itself.”

But another issue with that is that some families aren’t aware of work that needs to be done.

“There are a lot of people who were buried here decades ago, if not more than a century ago,” Long said. “So living relatives may not come here to see the grave anymore, but if they care about how the grave looks, they might want to come by and see how it looks, because they might want to fix any damage that might’ve occurred to their kin’s stone.”

In addition to the damaged stones, the work that happened this past weekend is cleaning the gravestones by spraying and cleaning the grime and mold from the stones to make them readable again.

“It doesn’t take a lot of work to clean one or two stones, but when you have more than 11,000 out here to take care of, it can be an overwhelming task,” Long said. “So if anyone knows they have family buried out here and want to make sure their stones are taken care of, we encourage them to either come out and do that or they can donate to the Hollywood Cemetery Association.”

Donations can be made online at hollywoodcemeteryjacksontn.org. They can also be mailed to P.O. Box 3975 in Jackson, 38303. Checks should be payable to Hollywood Cemetery Association.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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