The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden Cemetery is made up of a group of over 300 people who have joined together and volunteered over the past 6 years. Members of this group include citizens of Mississippi who recognize the importance Springhill Cemetery holds as DeSoto County’s oldest cemetery. Several group members belong to the DeSoto Civic Garden Club, the Explorer’s Club, and the Hernando Civic Garden Club. Many group members are current and former students at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Also involved from the college are the teachers of the Art, Civil Tech, Welding, Botany, and Drafting & Design Technology departments.
Aside from the members of the Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden, there are just as many supporters who have donated time and money. Some of these include the DeSoto Shrine Club, Hernando Lodge No.51 F.& A.M., Mississippi Widows Sons Grand Chapter, DeSoto County Arch Chapter #148, Friendship Council #56, Order of the Eastern Star no. 258, Ladies Auxiliary VFW #7531. The amount of community support is immense and seemingly everyone sees the value in the mission of the group.
While they all have different lives, backgrounds, and interests, members of The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden all have a similar goal; to bring beauty to a once forgotten and run-down place; Springhill Cemetery. One of the town’s most historic cemeteries, Springhill is located in Hernando, Mississippi. One member of the group refers to it as, “A museum without walls,” and he would like the community to come to appreciate it as such.
Over the past 6 years the volunteers of the group have devoted countless hours to meeting the needs of the cemetery. The group members have held many events which have become increasingly greater over the years, such as a benefit concert that was held in order to raise funds to improve the condition of Springhill Cemetery. On top of regular maintenance and upkeep, members of the group have planted spring and summer flowers to brighten up the cemetery and begin to return it to the comforting and welcoming place that it once was.
The year 2011 was a productive year for the group, particularly the members who were current students and staff at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Due to the hard work and efforts of the group, Springhill Cemetery gained a new entrance sign. The sign itself was the product of several of the school departments; three in particular, each led by their instructor. These included the Art, Welding, and Technology Departments. Assisted by their instructors, students made great contributions of their time, talent, and materials. They combined their skills and were able to design and construct a sign for the entrance of Springhill Cemetery. With the assistance of many other group members, the 22-foot tall sign was erected. The sign is constructed of iron and will serve as a welcome to visitors for many years to come.
The staff and students in the Botany and Civil Technology Departments of Northwest Mississippi Community College have been very helpful to the group as well. Led by their teacher advisors, students in the advanced surveying class took on the task of mapping the historic Springhill Cemetery, and students in the Botany Department were able to identify many types of trees that are currently planted in the cemetery. Throughout the years, many additional trees have been planted by members of The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden. The cemetery is also decorated for various holidays and a display was created for Earth Day.
The year 2011 also marks the first year of the Annual All Souls Lamplight Tour. This is an event which has occurred each year, and with each year it gets bigger and has more to offer. For the most recent event, the Third Annual All Souls Lamplight Tour, group members dedicated themselves to the planning and success of the event, and a total of approximately 180 hours were volunteered. It included lamplight tours as well as presentations by actors and refreshments. This event is at no charge to visitors to encourage attendance but donations are welcomed to assist with financial demands of the event itself, as well as the financial needs of the group to support the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the grounds.
In the year 2013, the efforts of the group totaled over 1,500 volunteer hours. Many of those hours were spent performing regular day to day maintenance such as gardening, mowing the grass, pulling weeds, and cleaning. Group members’ also cleaned headstones, planted trees and flowers, and placed mulch as needed.
Aside from the maintenance tasks, the group members have gone above and beyond and taken extra time to use what resources they have to begin to return the cemetery to the beautiful, peaceful place that it once was. The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden would like to see the cemetery become an asset to the community that can be enjoyed by all.
The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden has done its best to bring back an important part of Mississippi history, hindered only by a lack of funds. The commitment of the members of the group has been tremendous and the possibilities would be endless if the group received the financial support that it needs. With the proper funding, the Springhill Cemetery, established in 1836, will be preserved. The goal of the group is to restore monuments, mark unmarked graves, plant appropriate flowers and greenery, and essentially return the cemetery as close as possible to its original state. This will allow Mississippians a place where they can “return to their roots” while creating what could easily become a tourist attraction and result in revenue for the state.
The Friends of Springhill Historic Memorial Garden deserves special recognition because each and every member has taken time out of their busy life to enhance the Springhill Cemetery grounds for the benefit of the entire community. The cemetery is an important piece of history and a place that every member of the community can learn from. For some community members, it is the burial place of their ancestors. The Springhill Cemetery is a window to the past and it is time The Friends of Springhill receive the necessary funding to allow everyone to take a glimpse out that window.