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Historic Baton Rouge cemetery needs help removing gravestones after May storm

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Right in the heart of Old South Baton Rouge, one of the city’s first ever cemeteries still exists. Even though the Lutheran Benevolent Society Cemetery is no longer used for burials anymore, it takes volunteers to keep it up.

“The way the cemetery is configured is the same six acres that the plot of ground was bought in 1898, it’s the same configuration and that back up to the BREC City Park, and City Park was carved out of Richland Plantation,” says Lillie Gallagher who is one of the volunteers. Gallagher says they’ve identified one grave belonging to a slave, but they believe other unmarked stones represent additional slave resting places. That’s why they want to protect it as much as possible.

However, after the storm trees toppled over crushing some of the headstones. “It’s the kindness of strangers that is keeping the cemetery presentable now and we’ve had a lot of success, but as you well know there is a tree which has fallen and has created quite a problem,” adds Gallagher.

The cemetery is not attached to a church or an organization. Volunteers take care of the grounds, mainly weeding, and trying to protect the deteriorated grave markers. Everything comes out of volunteer pockets, but this tree is more than they can handle. “We need a professional to cut the tree at this point, the trees up at this point, because they are high in the air and they are too large. I don’t want to risk volunteers getting hurt,” says Parry Thomas who is also a volunteer.

Right now the Lutheran Benevolent Society Cemetery volunteers are asking for a helping hand to preserve this historic place and to remind it’s community of the importance it holds.

If you are interested in volunteering you can contact Thomas through email at parrymattt@gmail.com

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