Greenville’s Live Oak Cemetery Added to National Register of Historic Places
Live Oak Cemetery in Greenville was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 2, 2023. The National Register of Historic Places was established by Congress in 1966 to help identify and protect historically significant properties. It is administered in Mississippi by the Department of Archives and History.
Live Oak Cemetery is among the largest and oldest Black cemeteries in Mississippi and was, during Greenville’s most prosperous decades, the town’s only burial site for African Americans. Between circa 1850 and 1969, more than seven hundred people were buried there. One of the most notable burials was Holt Collier (1848-1936), a former enslaved person, soldier and master hunting and tracking guide. Collier served as the guide in 1902 for President Theodore Roosevelt in Sharkey County when Roosevelt famously refused to shoot a black bear tethered to a tree by Collier during the hunt. News accounts of the president’s sportsmanship led to the creation of the world-famous toy, the “Teddy Bear.”
Also interred at Live Oak are Reverend. E.W. Lampton, Mississippi’s first Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and John W. Strauther, a local banker, business owner, and civic leader, as well as eighty-three veterans from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Graves of Civil War veterans include those of the U.S. Colored Infantry and U.S. Colored Cavalry.
“We are grateful to the National Park Service for recognizing the historical significance of Live Oak Cemetery,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We also thank the many local people who have worked over the years to preserve and maintain this site that is so central to Greenville’s African American culture and history.”
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