Letter to the Editor

Newbern Cemetery Committee seeks descendants of deceased, funding from community

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Newbern Cemetery is located on Newbern/RoEllen Road between South Grayson and Thomas Street in Newbern. There use to be three separate cemeteries: the- Baptist Church, the Methodist Church and St. James Presbyterian Church Cemeteries. Back in 2002 the St. James Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church were destroyed by a tornado, and the Baptist Church was heavily damaged and required rebuilding. The Cemetery Committee was formed to oversee the three Cemeteries. The Committee consisted of four members, Bennie G. Greene, Willie L. Greene, the late Willie Cooper, and Tommy J. Kindle, who has been looking after the upkeep along with Alderman Daniel Watson.

We would like to thank those families that did contribute to the upkeep of the Newbern Cemetery in the past and year 2019.

The Cemetery has to be cared for all year round. It needs to be mowed from April through October yearly. Limbs, cans, bottles, paper, along with all kinds of trash needs to be picked up on the road front. Fallen limbs and trees inside the Cemetery need picking up or removing. Then there is the filling of sunken graves and raising head stones that have fallen over or sunk into the ground, and removal or spreading of dirt after each burial. All of this has to be done if the Cemetery is to be kept open.

There are a lot of unmarked graves in the Cemetery that need to be identified if possible. People that have family buried out there can come by the house (Bennie Greene) at 400 N. Grayson St. in Newbern, or we can meet you at the Cemetery and you can show us the grave. We will need the first & last name, date of birth and date of death. With this information we can properly mark the grave so it won’t be lost, or the family can have a marker put down.

This is an all-black Cemetery and we need your help in funding and upkeep of our black heritage Cemeteries. There is a lot of our black history in the Newbern Cemetery, dating back to 1800 that I have seen. There are our World War I & II, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans buried out there, about thirty-five total Veterans. We work to put flags down on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

We the Cemetery Committee are asking families with loved ones buried to make a donation to help us fund the Newbern Cemetery upkeep. We have to come together and keep our heritage up and looking good.

My wife, Willie L. Greene and myself, Bennie G. Greene, back in 1980 came here from Kansas City, Missouri because of my mother being terminally ill. That Cemetery was a big trash dump, with small trees and weeds grown up all over it. The City of Newbern was getting ready to condemn it because of the age and the deplorable condition. My Mother wanted to be buried out there. You could not get in the Cemetery for the trash, trees and weeds. The city gave us sixty days to get it cleaned up to standard appearance. All we had was my father-in-law’s pick-up truck, and we hauled refrigerators, cook stoves, mattresses, car tires, sofas, chairs, hot water tanks, swing sets, and just trash. We started at the driveway and worked our way through the Cemetery, cutting trees and hauling trash.

At the end of the sixty days we could see all over the Cemetery, it was mowed, trimmed and all the stones stood up. We have been the major overseers ever since. My wife and I are up in age now and we are looking for someone in the community to step up and take our places (smile). She is eighty-two and I'm eighty-five -- we have dedicated 41 years of our life looking after the Newbern Cemetery. I told my mother as long as I lived the Newbern Cemetery would never look like it did before I buried her there.

We are getting into another spring and summer upkeep season. We are asking for your help. Everyone working together can keep the Cemetery up and looking good. Don't wait for the other person to step up, step up yourself and help out. Everyone working together can do this -- we need your help!

Bennie G. Greene,

Chairman

Willie L. Greene,

Secretary

Newbern Cemetery Committee