When I met relatives of those buried in the Baskin Family Cemetery, I decided I wanted to see if I could have it declared endangered. I felt like this one deserved the certification if no others did.
I contacted the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. I had saved a copy of the form to fill out, but I didn't know who to send it to. The gentleman's name is Mr. David Abbott. He took over for a gentleman I had worked with a few years ago. I hadn't gone through this process before, so I wasn't sure quite how it worked. Mr. Abbott was very helpful in this whole endeavor.
What it boils down to is MDAH needs permission from the landowner to come onto the property and check out the cemetery. There are several reasons why the cemetery could be declared endangered, and he looks for all of those possibilities. After that, he sends a letter to the landowner letting them know what being declared endangered entails. The landowner would have to grant permission for people from the state onto the property to maintain the cemetery. I'm assuming that would mean cutting high grass, cutting back vegetation growing around the graves themselves, and that sort of thing.
Two things about the form to be filled out and submitted ended up being something of a problem. The first thing is that you have to find out who the landowner is and get their mailing address. The second thing is fill out a statement of significance for the cemetery. I have spoken with several people over the last couple of years who know the owner and could tell me where he lived. I was fortunate enough to have help from a relative with the statement of significance. This part could be a real problem. If I don't know the people interred in the cemetery, I may not know the significance of the cemetery. Anyway, I thought it was worth working on.
Mr. Abbott was amazing. I told him where the cemetery was located. He went there and got pictures, GPS coordinates, and all the other information he might need. Then he typed up a letter to mail to the landowner and sent me a copy. At this point, I was pumped.
David mailed off the letter, and then all we could do was wait. After what seemed like a month or two, Mr. Abbott let me know that the landowner had declined. I don't know if he gave a reason or not and it really doesn't matter. It was discouraging. Mr. Abbott said he'd hang onto the paperwork for the future in case the landowner changes his or her mind.