Rev. Shelton Myers, church pastor since 2018, heard the story while compiling the history of the church, whose graveyard headstones date to 1899.
“I’ve worked with cemeteries and other historic cemeteries throughout my ministry,” Myers said. “Just knowing that the church was so understanding with the families at the time was really impressive.”
Hudson, Myers and several other church members, along with Candace Picard, another historian working on the matter, were on hand as a team from the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Coastal Resilience spent a steamy June day surveying the site of the mass grave to determine. The church offered food, drinks and breaks from the sweltering heat.
Rev. Shelton Myers
Hudson said she appreciates the opportunity to be a part of the effort.
“Like history coming to life,” Hudson said. “I would like to see that we will be able to get the plaque and that we can connect with the loved ones of the lost and celebrate their lives.”
Hudson said they will be turning to social media, print media and other avenues to potentially make those connections.
With an active church membership of only 75-100 and limited resources, Myers knows “we cannot become a full museum.”
“But having a memorial, a historical marker, what it does — it also puts a highlight on Kentwood,” he said.
Anyone interested in joining the community effort can call the church at (985) 614-5007.
Trappey also stood in the humble country cemetery that day and watched the first step in honoring the victims of the November 14, 1903 tragedy unfold.
Trappey said the goal is to get two state historical markers to tell the story of the train wreck, one for the site of the former depot and the other in front of the church — and then to place a headstone at the unmarked mass grave to mark the Prevent future burials in the same area.
A Q&A with Dr. David Holt
dr David Holt
dr David Holt, Associate Professor of Geography, has taught at USM’s Gulf Coast campus since 2008 and previously taught at Miami University. He and a group of students identified the exact location of the mass grave in Kentwood in June.