General Site History

On December 23, 1886, a group that had six days earlier incorporated as Hollywood Cemetery purchased fifty acres from Robert A. Hurt for $3,000. Nearly 100 people were buried at Hollywood prior to the turn of the century, including nine whose markers show death dates prior to the cemetery’s founding, and who were moved to Hollywood from various other burial grounds. Founded during the post-Reconstruction era segregationist movement, Hollywood Cemetery was established within a year of Jackson’s African-American cemetery, Mt. Olivet. New cemetery plot buyers in the respective ethnic groups (Hollywood for whites and Mt. Olivet for blacks) were attracted to the new, racially exclusive burial grounds rather than the older, integrated Riverside Cemetery. Hollywood’s modern layout allured upper and middle class patrons interested in following the newest graveyard design trends. Hollywood’s location near the outer edge of one of the first street car suburbs of Jackson is significant because it exemplifies the period between Reconstruction and World War I when the population of many southern towns expanded due to industrial growth, pushing city limits and residential neighborhoods to the fringe areas rimming the core urban area. With the expansion, new cemeteries were needed and typically located on the outskirts of the newly developed communities. Hollywood served the new upper middle-class, white-collar segment that primarily occupied the suburban area and reflects their new tastes in cemetery design and art.

Social conditions manifested in local ordinances also pushed development of segregated cemeteries. Jackson’s city council first purchased land in 1880 for the Mt. Olivet Cemetery specifically for a blacks only burial ground and prohibited further burial of blacks at Riverside, unless they already owned plots. Although Hollywood Cemetery was intended as a “whites only” burial ground, a few African-Americans were buried there. According to funeral home records, at least four blacks, likely valued servants of white families, were buried during 1890 and 1892 in the “single” lot section. The “single” lot section hints at economic stratification, allowing burials of individuals who lacked the wealth or family status necessary to purchase a family plot. This section (Z) is a long, narrow strip next to the east fence, symbolizing their continued social marginalization even in death. Hollywood’s fenced separation from the adjacent Jewish cemetery, B’nai Israel (established circa 1885), also reflects ethnic and religious segregation typical of the period.

Comments are closed