|Friends of

Springhill

Historic Memorial Garden|

Hernando, Desoto Co., Miss.

Updated: 06-Apr-2013

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Welcome to the

Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden Homepage

Springhill Cemetery is located in Hernando, Desoto County, Mississippi on 5 grassy and wooded acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Oak Grove Road and Church Street/Robinson Gin Road, southwest of the Square and east of the Middle School in the West End neighborhood.  Visit us soon for a walk or picnic. Please, no dogs or bike riding on grounds.

To support this community-based reclamation and restoration project, visit the JOIN/DONATE page. Then you can sign up for updates on events and participate in garden work days.


Sunday April 13, 2014, from 2pm till 5pm.

Springhill Cemetery Cleaning Day

 We will mulch, clear privet, and cleaning headstone.

At 5pm, Mary Evelyn Starr, M.A. Anthropology, will give a tour of Springhill Cemetery.

 The city of Hernando's original (1836) public burial ground.

  

Marco and Jermal Thorton, swing blading north hill side!

 

Northwest Mississippi Community College, Civil Technology, Tommy Watson Instructor

 

The Explorerís Club was formed to promote interest and education in the great outdoors. To accomplish this, the Club organized nature walks, participated in tree-planting, helped with the restoration of Springhill Cemetery in Hernando and went Geocaching several times. Contact Bud Donahou at (662) 562-3379 or bdonahou@northwestms.edu.

 


Planning for an Historic Memorial Garden

Springhill Cemetery lies on a high, wooded, ridge two blocks southwest of the Hernando courthouse. The town of Hernando lies on a topographic high in the Coldwater River basin of northwestern Mississippi, on the dividing ridge between Hurricane Creek to the north, Mussacuna Creek to the south and Short Fork Creek to the east. All are direct tributaries of the Coldwater River. The cemetery is gullied and surrounded by cutbanks and ravines. While the location is eroded and gullied loess, but on the ridgetop there is dark rich soil like once covered the North Central Hills of Mississippi.

Springhill Cemetery was established as a donation, as shown on the plat of the original grid of Hernando (in the Chancery Clerk's office), from 1836, when the new town, then called Jefferson, was platted. Hernando is the first and only seat as of Desoto County, created shortly after the Chickasaw Cession at the 1832 Treaty of Pontotoc. The family groups of graves, two or three to eight or ten in rows aligned north-south and facing east. Provision of a public burial ground at the outskirts of towns was a major movement in Victorian urban planning; and still provided a burial site alternative after church, plantation and isolated family cemeteries came into building. Besides grazing for town cows, a nineteenth century town's  graveyard was also an open space for strolling and contemplation. Springhill was used primarily in the antebellum period, with some later 19th and 20th century interments. After the yellow fever epidemic of 1878 almost destroyed the town, few families still used it. The core of the cemetery contains numerous examples of high-quality but often damaged stonework; however, the cemetery also is highly likely to contain hundreds of unmarked nineteenth century graves. Many cemeteries had annual days for visiting and cleaning graves, and in the late nineteenth century community contributions kept it fenced. But as families died out or moved on, the cemetery was largely abandoned by 1900, and it fell into neglect and eventually was used as a cattle pasture and woodlot.

Springhill Cemetery is located along the south boundary of Section 13, Township 2 South, Range 8 West of the Chickasaw Principal Meridian, in the southwest quarter of said Section 13, or at latitude N 34 degrees, 48 minutes, 57 seconds, longitude W 90 degrees, 00 minutes, 03 seconds. The elevation is about 360í above sea level while the surrounding creek valleys lie at about 240í amsl. The site is steeply sloping loess surrounding a partly grassy and partly hardwood-covered ridgetop, with an unusual light, soft, dark brown loam. There are sunny, sloping south and east cutbanks; a flat, street-side parking/sports area; a north slope deep gully, and several wooded flats and hillsides besides the main, grassy ridge top where the historic gravestones are.

Evergreens, particularly cedar, holly and magnolia, are traditional features of old Southern cemeteries. We have begun replacing cedar stumps with cedar seedlings. We plan to focus our gardening efforts on such native trees and shrubs. While the location is mostly high and well-drained land that is dominated by hickories and small undergrowth, it once supported a wider range of oaks as well. The soil is very unusual for the loess hills, with a dark loamy topsoil like that the first farmers found in the Chickasaw cession. There is a steep, deep, north-facing ravine and a wet seep and drainage area, and cover ranges from south-facing, full-sun slopes to heavy shade. While we plan to focus on planting native species, we would also like to set aside particular areas for African and Asian gardens, to demonstrate the introduction of many Old World plants during the 19th century. Tree replacement should also emphasize those that provide sources of food for birds and other wildlife, especially native nut and berry-bearing trees and bushes, and flowering species attractive to bees and other beneficial insects.

The skull and crossbones reminds us "As you are now, I once was. As I am now, you soon shall be." Monument with Odd Fellows symbols, Wiley Jones, in need of reassembling.

 

Hernando Lodge

 


Assets and Liabilities

A tract of land such as Springhill Cemetery constitutes an asset as well as a liability for the City of Hernando. It is foremost a liability in terms of the expense of upkeep, maintenance and policing. However, with proper planning and management this old graveyard could become an asset. Botanic gardens take many years to mature, and our tree-planting work today can only be fully realized many decades in the future. 

Desoto County is rapidly urbanizing. Green space is going to be increasingly at a premium, particularly when it is public property in the middle of the county seat. A park-like use is in keeping with the historic 19th century tradition of the suburban cemetery as a sort of public strolling park as well as burial ground. This long-neglected tract could be used in ways that enhance wildlife habitat, and at the same time provide recreational and educational opportunities. Such respectful uses would be appropriate and in keeping with the funerary character of the site, and should include low-impact (earth or mulch) trails or paths, which would not be a adverse impact to the historically significant landscape.

Our Politics

We want to help preserve Springhill Cemetery as part of the Hernando parks system. The site is partly wooded and partly open, and is currently being mowed and cleared by the city and other agencies and community volunteers. Remote sensing to locate unmarked graves and repair of monuments is needed to assess the historic significance of the old public burial ground. We also recommend plantings of native species and historically appropriate non-native species to improve green space and outdoor recreational opportunities for the area. The ultimate goal of the project is to conserve the existing historical character of the cemetery while making the cemetery an asset rather than liability for the city.

Springhill Cemetery seems to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and/or designation as a Mississippi Landmark. Any modifications such as trails and plantings should be carefully considered to contribute to the historical character of the gravesites in the proposed National Register Boundaries. Planting any non-native plants should emphasize species typical of regional historical graveyards. Selection of the right native and naturalized plantings will also minimize maintenance costs. Likewise, any hard modifications (fences, gravel, concrete, new monuments) to the core of the site should be carefully limited, so as not to detract from the unique historic character of the Hernando's old burial ground. 

Why We Need Your Help

Any work at the Springhill Cemetery has to be carried out in cooperation with the city public works department. The collaboration of civic groups is sought as well. The cemetery has the potential to contribute to the larger heritage tourism industry, but it would need significant investments to make it an attractive resource.

Volunteer contributions of time, labor and materials will be used whenever possible. This should include schools and other youth programs, which can both contribute to the enhancement of the site and allow kids to learn while doing so. As Springhill Cemetery is within a block of the public middle school, it should be considered a resource for the school, with the potential for real-world science labs as well as history projects. All garden work teaches perseverance, thoroughness, forward-thinking and long-term planning. Visible and real accomplishments teach self-respect and an appreciation of the returns of labor. Each weekend that volunteers work, we make a little progress in reclaiming Springhill Cemetery from kudzu, honeysuckle and privet hedge. Whenever possible, participants should be given surplus bulbs, seedlings and cuttings for their own yards and encourage them to think of the cemetery as a community asset. It is only thru an investment and commitment of the young people of the area that this project will be a success, because the trees we planted in 2011 will take 50 to 100 years to mature.

The tombstones at Springhill vary from good condition to badly fragmented. While there are only about 100 monuments, there a probably hundreds of unmarked graves. The only way to find out is through remote sensing and more traditional types of archaeology. Like gardening, archaeology is time-consuming as well as educational work. We would like to do any conservation (repairs) to monuments in keeping with best practices, and to use the work to hold a public seminar and laboratory in cemetery conservation for representatives of local cemeteries.

Grave of Sarah Roe, surrounded by cast iron fence.  In the back ground, two of only 6 20th century monuments, Stewart and his step-son Ferguson.

Please visit Springhill Cemetery often, but respect this historic sacred space--

  • No dogs, bikes or ATVs

  • Donít litter

  • Donít sit or lean on monuments

  • Donít scrape or apply chalk to monuments

Public property is your property and your responsibilityó

The city and county can only afford basic maintenanceó

So YOUR support is essential!

 

THANKS, PARKS DEPARTMENT FOR YOUR HELP PUTTING THE SIGN UP.

 


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{ Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden   {

Located at

Oak Grove Road {  Robinson Gin Road in Hernando, Mississippi

2 blocks south and 2 blocks west of the square

Mailing address:

a  Springhill Cemetery c/o N.C. "Tom" Ferguson { P.O. Box 189  {  Hernando MS 38632 b

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