HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg is the new caretaker of a historic, but abandoned cemetery on the William Carey Parkway.
In a ceremony Wednesday morning, Hattiesburg mayor Toby Barker signed a proclamation acknowledging the city now has title to the Mt. Olive Cemetery.
Hattiesburg got the land through eminent domain.
The five-acre site dates back to 1906, when three employees of the Tatum Lumber Company got a loan from W.S.F. Tatum to buy it for graves for black families.
Over the years, it became overgrown and was further damaged by last year's tornado.
City crews immediately began cleaning up the property after the ceremony.
Hattiesburg resident Vermell Jackson, who has relatives buried in the cemetery, was among those who encouraged the city to acquire the property.
She said knowing the city will care for it is the greatest birthday present she could get.
She recently turned 90.
"This is the best present I had, to know our loved ones will be taken care of forever and also, have some dignity to our cemetery," Jackson said.
City officials said about 250 graves are in the cemetery.
They also said a marker from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will soon be placed on the site.