Started in 1879, Holt Cemetery is a potter’s field cemetery in New Orleans that is primarily a Black cemetery. The plots are free. The only charge is for the burial.
It is filled with vernacular headstones. At 7 acres, it is a small, densely packed cemetery. It is still active. When I visited, they were preparing for another funeral.
I know people are often dismayed at the state of the cemetery. I find such beauty in the handmade markers. There are generations of families buried together here. It simultaneously speaks to the connection of families and the horrible history of racism in Louisiana and the United States.
The city of New Orleans did spend money in 2013 to repair and stabilize the cemetery, but individual plots were not part of the stabilization project.
There are so many amazing monuments at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. This is one of the art deco ones to memorialize Charles F Beck (1892-1928). Whenever a hurricane makes landfall, I always wonder how much more the city can endure. It is a city of resilience, so I would never count it out.
When I was in Louisiana, I visited the Whitney Plantation, the only plantation that focuses on the experience of the enslaved. It does not romanticize plantation culture, which many plantations do. There are some plantations that are doing a better job at sharing these stories, but the Whitney has set the gold standard for this. I recommend everyone to make the effort to visit. For all photo descriptions, I am referencing the Whitney website or their audio tour.
Sallie Falkner, William Faulkner’s grandmother, is memorialized in relief in Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Based on photos, the sculptor did a great job capturing her. Apparently, his grandfather is on the other side, but I did not catch that when I was taking this photograph. You can imagine me uttering, “Ugh” since I missed it.
This memorial is listed on the Smithsonian’s Save Our Outdoor Sculpture database.
The Besthoff family is prominent in New Orleans. Sydney J. Besthoff (1871-1926) started K & B Drug Stores with Gustav Katz in 1905. The stores were all over the southeast until 1997, when they sold to Rite Aid.
Sydney Besthoff III (1928-2022) and his wife, Walda, were known for their interests in the arts and sponsored the sculptural garden in City Park behind the New Orleans Museum of Art. I assume that Sydney was also laid to rest in the family tomb. I am unable to confirm this, but considering the love of sculptural art that Sydney and Walda have, it is logical that this would be a part of the family plan.
This striking marker is located in Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. William and Mary Crenshaw lost four children. Three of their children died within a couple of months of each other. Their fourth child, listed on the marker as “The Nameless One,” did not make it past its first day.
An early death was quite common during the Victorian period. Diseases like diphtheria could ravage a household. It’s common to see family plots where a family has lost more than one child.