In 2004 Schelley Brown and local historian John Agan, both members of the cemetery board, came up with a plan to help the cemetery by planning an annual Cemetery Ghost Walk held in conjunction with Veteran’s Day every year. With help from Earlene Mendenhall Lyle “The Cemetery Lady” and her book “The Minden Cemetery a peaceful resting place” the tours began to evolve.
The response has been overwhelming with people making reservations this year from as far away as Nebraska, New Mexico, and Florida. “Every year it just gets bigger and better!” Brown stated, “We already have one group of 90 coming from all over the country. It surprises more than a few to find out some of the interesting facts about the people in Minden’s history. We have people buried here that made huge impacts on Louisiana and Arkansas.”
All of this could not be done without the help of local actors and actresses dressed in period costumes roaming the cemetery. This will be an amazing sight to behold as you tour guide escorts you to each historical scene. It’s very unique to look across and see Civil War era ladies as well as Civil War soldiers sitting by their perspective graves. Many of the Minden’s leading past citizens will be on hand and happy to be sharing their stories of the way life in Minden was over 150 years ago. This is a rare opportunity to learn about our past community leaders and citizens. You will learn how Minden’s women and men endured thru great hardships and strived to overcome great obstacles to make our town what it is today. This is your chance to see how men and women worked together to make Minden and our country what it is today.
Bagpipe music will beckon you from across the grounds as you visited the 13 tour stops. Local bagpiper Vernon Love will make his regular appearance for this special tribute. In 2006 the event actually fell on Veteran’s Day. A special tribute to Veterans from as far back as the War of 1812, Civil War, WWI and II was the focus of the year’s tour. Also included in were several husband and wife ghost bringing with them actual belongings and pictures from their homes.
This is the perfect place to bring class rooms of children, scouting groups and Sunday school classes. Tour will begin at 12 noon- the last tour will start at 3:00 and end around 4:00 p.m. with tours starting every 15 minutes and lasting about one hour. Golf carts to assist with those that are unable to walk the tour are available on a limited basis. Mobility devices are welcomed and encouraged as well as light weight lawn chairs to carry with you.
The BeginningThe exact date of the beginnings of the Minden Cemetery remains somewhat of a mystery. Several of the traditional primary sources give contradictory information or information that is impossible based on known facts. According to the Centennial Edition of the Minden Signal-Tribune and Springhill Journal, published on December 31, 1934, the first burial in the cemetery occurred in 1840. That burial was of a Mrs. Mary A. Smith, on April 22, 1840. According to Biographical and Historic Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, Mrs. Smith had first been buried near Murrell's tan yard, located in the area of today's Kirby Place. She had been re-interred in the Minden Cemetery at the suggestion of Charles Veeder, the founder of Minden. The Centennial Edition goes on to say that at the time of her burial the land that composed the present cemetery was set aside by Col. John Langdon Lewis and his wife as a burial ground. The newspaper account goes on to state that in 1854, after the incorporation of Minden, the cemetery was deeded to the town by the Col. and Mrs. Lewis. This date is confirmed by Biographical and Historical Memoirs, which records that at the first meeting of the Aldermen of the Town of Minden on May 22, 1854, "a new deed from Col. J. L. Lewis and his wife, granting the cemetery to the town was demanded. . ."
For all of you that come out we hope you can help Mrs. Mary Smith locate her grave as she is still wandering around looking for her final resting place!Oldest MarkersMuch of the older section of the Minden Cemetery was devastated by the tornado of May 1, 1933, and many of the oldest markers were destroyed then or have been lost or covered by soil in recent years. In fact this year we will remember those lost forever in unknown graves.
I have a name but it has been lost forever! I am one of the many buried in this cemetery, that lost their markers in 1933. You can see all the large spaces without markers in front of you. May 1st, 1933, at 4:00 pm the most deadly tornado in Louisiana history occurred in Minden where 28 were killed and 400 injured. This tornado was estimated to have the strength of a modern F-3 storm. Officially, more than $1.2 million dollars in damage was caused, over 500 homes were damaged or destroyed along with many business. This disaster of 1933 plunged Minden into the Great Depression as unemployment soared and hard times came to our city. So as you look around today remember that there are many more of us here.
However, the following burials prior to May 1853 are marked by stones visible today: Robert G. Quarles, August 17, 1843; Sarah Emily Pennell, September 13, 1843; Martha Murrell, November 10, 1844; John Murrell, August 1, 1845; Emily McDonald, March 27, 1846; Sarah Elizabeth Morrow, June 18, 1847; Caroline C. Etter, October 1m 1847; Ursula M. Frazier, March 21, 1848; Robert Gilliam Quarles, December 5, 1848; Thomas Kennon, February 8, 1849; James Bonner McDonald, August 9, 1849; Almedia McDonald, August 11, 1849; W. C. C. Pratt, September 4, 1849; Charlotte Mixon, November 20, 1849; Richard Wilde Quarles, November 29, 1849; Martha H. Evans, September 6, 1850; G. M. Mills, November 6, 1850; Martha E. Kennon, April 7, 1851; Mrs. Mahala Drake, July 8, 1851; Robert H. Kennon, July 11, 1851; Elizabeth Ferguson, July 27, 1851; William Matthew Ardis, February 25, 1852; Thomas Houston, March 10, 1852; J. T. Morrow, June 19, 1852; Benjamin L. Sanders, October 15, 1852; and Joseph Lowell Chaffe, May 8, 1853.
For years cemeteries have needed help with upkeep issues. The Minden Cemetery is no exception to this problem. From the very beginning maintaining a deteriorating property has been an issue as you will see from the following letters.A Public LetterDuring the lean times of Reconstruction, it was difficult for our town to pay its bills, much less clean up the cemetery. By 1883, the condition of the cemetery had deteriorated to such a degree that Mayor Pankary W. Paul, sent the following public letter to the Webster Tribune, which published his remarks in its issue of May 17, 1883."To The People of Minden"We are informed that the cemetery needs attention. Why can we not as at other times come together and with loving hands add something of beauty to the homes of those who have died in our midst? There are surely loving hearts and willing hands enough to in our little town to remove in a short time from our graveyard all that evidence of dilapidation that speak so badly for the living who acknowledge ties of blood and affection for those who sleep the sleep of death among us."I urge upon the good people of Minden to meet at the Cemetery on Monday the 21st day of May, for cleaning the graveyard from the leaves, limbs, and debris that have accumulated there in years past."A few soldiers of the late war are buried in Minden, and the wounds of the war are healed over and hidden from sight, the saplings have grown tall over its trenches and graves, and their roots have reached down to the hearts of the dead. Scars, hurts and death blows are almost forgotten; the men did their duty, let us do ours, by commemorating the death of those who died for their country."Here is a duty for the Reverend divines and followers of the humble Nazarene to perform. Select a day and call out your congregation, and let us observe that day with solemnity and propriety that the occasion may demand. Surely out of the whole year we might select one day to be devoted to such a holy purpose, we approach no nearer the Lord by continual indifference to the fact that in death he gives us the sublimist lesson of life, and in the language of the Minden Democrat, 'lets us make it a pleasure to think that the worldly remains of those whose spirits are wandering of the Elysian fields of pure delight lay at rest in tombs that are cared for with loving hands.'P. W. Paul, Mayor"A ResponseMayor Paul's request was met with enthusiastic response as the following article appeared in the May 31, 1883 Tribune:"The people, in obedience to the call of the Mayor, turned out on the 21st inst., and greatly improved the cemetery. The Thursday following was appointed as, Decoration Day. The people met for that purpose and Rev. W. H. McGee and Col. George D. Alexander addressed them on the occasion. Mr. McGee made a very earnest speech and impressed the duty they owed themselves in beautifying and keeping the graveyard in a good condition and as a duty they owed the dead. Col. Alexander in a brief but enthusiastic speech spoke of the noble motives that prompted the gathering and paid a glowing tribute to his comrades who lie buried in the graveyard who died for the ‘lost cause.’ He said it wasn't his purpose to resurrect old sectional feelings but to pay respects to the dead, especially the Confederates. He did not say that they were right, but defended the motives that prompted to do as they did, and said, ‘We believed we were right.’"A resolution of thanks was then voted Mayor Paul for having inaugurated the move. The gathering then proceeded to decorate and pay their respects to the graves of the dead."UpkeepBy 1890, another clean up was necessary and finding that the cemetery needed almost constant attention, the Minden Cemetery Association was formed and in that year hired a sexton to maintain the graveyard. Operating funds were always short and on several occasion local organizations sponsored events to raise funds for cemetery maintenance. One of the most successful was a band concert held in 1908 that raised enough money to keep the cemetery in good condition for a number of years.Today, the Minden Cemetery is a physical reminder of those that created the Echoes of Our Past. Maintaining the cemetery is still the task of the Minden Cemetery Association, and now, as in 1883, they can always use financial assistance to preserve and protect this hallowed ground.
Some of what you will see and who you will meet if you come out in November
The Civil War Trench-
In 1936, The Minden Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument to these men. This area is known as the “Trench”. This spot is where 21 Confederate men are buried who died from wounds received at the Battle of Mansfield. Recently a single individual tombstone marking the burial place of Pvt. Thomas L. Anderson of the 31st Texas Cavalry has been erected.
Jacqueline Taylor – On your left as you enter the cemetery is the grave of Mrs. Jacqueline Ward Taylor, who died at the age of 90 in 1930. “Aunt Jack” was well known as the operator of a hotel in Minden for many years.
As you enter the old section of the Minden Cemetery through the decorative arch, you are immediately greeted by a large friendly lady, she seems to be of hearty pioneer stock, and is genuinely happy to see you.
“Come in, come in, I’m so glad to see you today. My name is Jacqueline Taylor, but everybody for miles around calls me Aunt Jack. I ran the hotel up on Broadway; oh I forget you call it Main Street today, for forty years. The old hotel is the building where Roberts Music store is today. I just wanted to please my customers, but they tell me I showed the most hospitality to guests of any body in these parts. I guess there was something to it. When they had my funeral in 1931, all the stores in town closed down and the people came to the cemetery. Makes you feel good to know that the folks appreciated what you did while you were among the living.
. It’s been nice to meet all of you and I want you to always think of me when you see that park they named after me, you know the one with the bandstand downtown, well y’all call it a gazebo. You did know that’s Jacqueline Park? Named after me, and It’s sure nice to know my town thought so much of me to preserve my memory.
Alberta Glass last surviving Civil War soldier
Hello there. My name is Alberta Glass, I ran a store in downtown Minden for nearly 50 years, but most folks remember me for another reason. I was the last veteran of the War Between the States in Minden. I was born in old Claiborne Parish in 1845. When I was 15 years old my parents sent me down to a new school in Pineville called the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Institute (you probably know it better by the name it got later – LSU). There was a really tough soldier as Superintendent at the school, his name was William Tecumseh Sherman – yep, the famous General Sherman. I had only been at the school a little while when The War Between The States broke out. I went back home and in March 1862, I joined Company G of the 12th Louisiana Infantry in the Confederate Army. We went to the east and fought quite a bit in Georgia and Tennessee. I even got wounded once at the Battle of Atlanta. When it came time for us to surrender in May 1865, I bet you can guess who our unit surrendered to. It was the Army of that same General Sherman who’d been head of my school. I came back to Minden after the war and went to work as a store clerk. Eventually I owned that store. By 1933, I was 88 years old and the last Confederate veteran still living in Minden. They had a big ceremony to dedicate that statue in the park over on the next hill south of this cemetery. Had a band and everything, they let me unveil the statue. I only lived 4 years after that. I was going on 92 when I finally died. I tell you, I saw a lot of things change here in Minden and this country.
This is only a sample of the very interesting history of the cemetery and its past citizens. Ghost Walk will be done with great respect to our past citizens and something everyone should enjoy. If you have family buried at the Minden Cemetery you will want to be on hand. This is a way to honor and pay tribute to those men and women that worked so hard to make Minden the community that we love. The cost of the tour this year will be $10.00 for adults and $4.00 Children under 12. Group rates are available, with 10 or more per group. All proceeds from the tour help to maintain the Minden Cemetery which is funded by the Minden Cemetery Association a non profit organization. For more information please contact
What: Old Minden Cemetery Ghost Walk
Where: Minden, La.
Place: Old Minden Cemetery on Bayou Avenue off of Pine Street
Sponsors: Minden Cemetery Association / Minden Residential Historic District Association / Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau/ The Minute Magazine
Date: Saturday in November in conjunction with Veteran’s Day
Time: Tour times Noon- with last tour starting at 3:00 p.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m.
Contact: Schelley Brown 318-423-0192 or email @ email@example.com
Public Information: Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce