Family says overgrown cemetery should be honored, not neglected

Family says overgrown cemetery should be honored, not neglected
(Source: WAFB)

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - When you lay your family to rest in a cemetery, it’s for safekeeping. Family members can rest assured knowing there will always be a place their ancestors can be visited. In East Baton Rouge Parish, there’s one cemetery that’s been lost in the shuffle.

Family working to get East Baton Rouge cemetery cleaned up

There are a few things in the Nick Wax Memorial Cemetery that don’t belong, like the tree deeply rooted between two vaults, or a family of bees that has made its home inside another one. The list of issues goes on and on.

(Source: WAFB)

“That’s a hindrance. It’s definitely a hindrance,” said Sheron Norman. “You can’t even get into the cemetery at all.”

They don’t belong because it’s sacred ground. Nick Wax Memorial Cemetery is at the corner of Scenic Highway and Thomas Road and has been neglected and pushed to the side.

“This is so grown up,” Norman said. “There are trees up in here blocking the path.”

Norman can’t even remember the last time she set foot inside with ease. She’s gotten so frustrated over the years watching her family plots be swallowed by bushes, which have turned into trees, that she has stopped coming. Norman has even tried to find the owner to hold them accountable; WAFB did too. However, we hit several roadblocks and have no clear path to the person responsible. In fact, as we learned, it’s often difficult to find the owners of these long forgotten cemeteries. Some of the records just aren’t around anymore.

(Source: WAFB)

“Every time you come, it’s just getting more and more grown up,” Norman said. “Now it’s to the point where you can’t even get in. You’re stopped at the gates.”

Several members of Norman’s extended family are buried in the back; the branches make it a difficult walk.

It used to be a tradition on holidays to visit. Now, it’s just become a memory and goal for her grandchildren.

“I want them to see what I saw. I want them to have a respect for the grave and for the ones that have passed on,” she said. “Like my mama always says, ‘Clean it up. Get it cleaned up. We need this cleaned up. This is a part of our heritage, our memories. We want to be able to share this with our children and grandchildren.'”

The family says they even thought about cleaning the cemetery up themselves.

When WAFB reached out to the Louisiana Cemetery Board, we were told because it’s not an active cemetery, they don’t have records about its ownership.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.