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.
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.
Chapman Henry Hyams was a millionaire stockbroker and art collector in New Orleans. Hyams built a mausoleum for his family that was designed by noted New Orleans architects, Favrot and Livaudais. The marble monument was dedicated to his sisters and is a copy of William Wetmore Story’s Angel of Grief. Blue stained glass windows bathe the angel in blue light.
I became curious about the sisters since they were not in the mausoleum. Jacabeth Caroline Hyams (1848-1859) is buried in the Dispersed of Judah Cemetery in New Orleans. Her father and other siblings are buried. I was unable to locate where the mother is buried.
Gertie Sarah Hyams moved to New York. She married Wayland Trask, a New York stockbroker, In the Louisiana census in 1872, she is listed as Sarah or S. G. By the time she moves to New York, she is identified as Gertie. She passed away in 1877 and, her final resting place is in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Lafayette Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2 are located in the Garden District part of New Orleans. Number 1 was the first municipal cemetery, and it was laid out in 1832. There are over 7,000 burials in 1,100 different tombs in a one-city block. Lafayette No. 1 is currently closed to the public as the city continues to stabilize the tombs and roadways. (These photos were taken in 2017.)
Lafayette Cemetery No. 2 was opened in 1850. Like Lafayette No. 1, it is home to many family tombs and society tombs.
Josie Arlington was a well-known madam in New Orleans. Before her death, she purchased this plot in Metairie Cemetery and commissioned to have this tomb built. Upon her death, she was briefly interred and then removed to an unknown burial plot when her family fought over her estate.
Jose Morales, a local lawyer, bought the tomb for his wife and children. This stirred controversy among community members, and her tomb attracted attention. At one point, a red light was installed close to her tomb and it looked like the tomb was on fire. The light was later removed.
To date, the Metairie staff have not revealed where Josie is buried.