BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana book fest takes place this Saturday and that means you can expect book fans to flood the Louisiana State Capitol grounds. Among the crowd this year are two women with a book about graveyards. Both authors have a unique spin on these historic places that are fading fast.
If you grew up in Louisiana, you probably learned that Huey Long is buried at his statue on the capitol grounds. But did you know that behind a row of crape myrtles at the state capitol was a very old cemetery that had been burying its dead since the 1700s? This posed a problem for Louisiana's growing capital plans and, so it was decommissioned and graves were moved. The cemetery is not far from the capitol on North Street. Volunteers help maintain the historic Lutheran Cemetery.
But an LSU excavation in the 1990s showed they missed several. "You had French, you had Spanish, then Americans. This was a large cemetery," Mary Manhein told WAFB in a 1991 interview.
Together, Dr. Mary Manhein and one of her former students Jessica Schexnaydre have written a new book, called Fragile Ground: Louisiana's Endangered Cemeteries. Research for the book sent them far and wide. "We visited 138 cemeteries...also a loss of culture," Dr. Manhein said. Schexnaydre took the pictures in the book.
Manhein and Schexnaydre hope to preserve the history of the cemetery on North Street as well as historical cemeteries Denham Springs, Cocodrie, and Leeville, Fragile Ground assures they are remembered.