Help support Watkins Street cemetery

Published 12:05 am Thursday, October 2, 2014

To all churches, the general public, family members, concerned citizens, friends and loved ones of the departed souls laid to rest in the Watkins Street Cemetery: once again, it is time to raise funds for the upkeep and maintenance of one of the oldest African American cemeteries in the state of Mississippi, the historical Watkins Street Cemetery.

Cleanup of the cemetery has been an ongoing task since 2005.

This past winter was winter followed by a rainy season. Therefore, we were not able to maintain the cemetery as frequent as we had been. As of March 1, we began our clean up of broken and fallen limbs and leaves.

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At this time we are asking for your support in maintaining and beautifying the cemetery. Any donation of services (grass or tree cutting), volunteer hours or monetary donations are greatly appreciated.

Our main goal is to make sure that one of the oldest African American cemeteries remains presentable.

Since 2010, Worthy Women of Watkins Street Association has been a community service site that works with students from youth court, drug court, as well as the Adolescent Offender Program (AOP).

When students are required to do a community or a volunteer service, Watkins Street Cemetery is one of the sites they can be assigned to.

Our accomplishments in 2012 include:

• An aluminum metal sign (Section N – donated by Ray Brown).

• Seventeen permanent section markers and permanent markers for the fallen soldiers laid to rest.

• Entrance sign donated by The Diamond Princesses.

Accomplishments in 2013 include:

• There were 35 individual grave markers placed throughout the cemetery for Rhythm Night Club victims not buried in the Rhythm Night Club section.

• The 104th year anniversary program in cemetery.

• Students place flowers on the three mass graves of the unidentified victims and individual graves of the Rhythm Night Club Fire of 1940.

• Sarah Bogan of Our Heritage magazine wrote and published an article (concerning cemetery) “History Reclaimed” in the summer/fall edition.

• Mike Mitchell of North Star Productions filmed a funeral scene at the site of three mass graves (M section) of the Rhythm Night Club Fire of 1940.

• Memorial Day and Veterans Day — students placed flags on all veterans laid to rest in Watkins Street Cemetery.

• Students placed flower bulbs donated by “Keep Mississippi Beautiful.”

• Mr. and Mrs. Jim Barnett are still in the process of mapping the cemetery.

• Isle of Capri Casino donated two marble benches, one marble vase and the monument for the mass graves in Section M.

To make donations, schedule services and/or volunteer time, please contact: Nellie Dottery at 601-442-5968, Dorothy Sanders at 601-445-9431 or McKinley Barnes at 601-445-8298. Donations may be mailed to Worthy Women of Watkins Street Association, P.O. Box 17893, Natchez, MS 39122.

Thank you for your support in advance.


Nellie Dottery is a member of the Worth Women of Watkins Street Association.