Bounded by Second, Easterbrook, and Toulme Streets, Cedar Rest Cemetery became the property of the City of Bay St. Louis in three separate deeds at different times.
The chain of ownership of the land begins with the United States and from there passes to Elihu Carver, Millette Lassassieur, Peter Surrogate, Madam Charlo, and John B. Lardasse. These people held most of the land on which the city of Bay St. Louis presently sits. From there Madam Charlo deeded a parcel of her land, which the cemetery now covers, to Euphrone Necaise, John B. Necaise, Zeni Necaise, and Celeste LaFontaine. From there this parcel went to Publius Rutilius Rufus Pray, from him to J. B. Toulme, John Martin, and John Magilly and then in a partition by Judge J. W. Winningham (Probate Court) to J. B. Toulme.
The northern section was one of six plots given to the city by Jacques Baptiste (J. B.) Toulme. In 1860 he also deeded a section south of the original cemetery to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. J. B. Toulme II and his only son, John Victor (J. V.) were mayors of the city. J. V. Toulme, his three wives and some of his children are buried in Cedar Rest. According to the Sea Coast Gazette, a local newspaper in 1880, J. B. I and his wife are buried in a crypt with a spire, facing west across from the bathtub. In reality the bathtub was a watering trough for horses when Bay St. Louis was a horse and wagon town. Originally it sat in front of the first courthouse in Bay St. Louis.
The middle section of Cedar Rest was a swap between St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the city in 1888. (The deed was recorded on September 13, 1895.) The church gave up the “Old Burying Ground” property at the corner of Beach Blvd. and St. Charles St. for this center section. The bodies in this cemetery were disinterred and moved to Cedar Rest. Some of them were Indians, and for this reason Cedar Rest is on the list of historical graveyards of the United States.
The south section of the cemetery was given to the city by Joan Newman Seal on November 20, 1891. McDonald’s warehouse also at the south end sits on a site she deeded to the Baptist Church.
The oldest grave in the cemetery is that of E. Meggs, who died on May 15, 1815. However, the marker is gone. The oldest marked grave is that of a Native American, Powhattan Robertson, who died as a young woman on October 1, 1820.
The plots in the cemetery were given to families in the manner of homesteads: free, but with the responsibility of “claiming” the plot by physical markings. Although the city of Bay St. Louis has assumed the responsibility of keeping the grass cut, etc., the individual families are responsible for keeping the gravesites in order.
In 1993 the Hancock County Historical Society began a tradition that is the highlight of Halloween celebrations in Bay Saint Louis, in Hancock County, and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast—the Annual Cemetery Tour.
Originated to discourage vandalism of the cemetery by mischievous ghosts and goblins, the event has other objectives: to preserve and teach the history of the area; to accept donations to finance the restoration of graves and headstones; and to serve as the October function of the society. The cemetery tour has been presented each year since 1993 except in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina.
Cedar Rest Cemetery file
Hilliker, Meg. Letter to Mayor Victor Frankiewicz, City of Bay St. Louis, August 7, 1985.