Historic Beulah Cemetery is located at the end of old Jackson Road at Section 19, T-16N, R-4E. The property is near the Vicksburg city limits and is adjacent to the Vicksburg National Military Park.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992, Beulah is one of the most significant African American landmarks in Warren County.
The Vicksburg Tabernacle #19 Independent Order of Brothers and Sisters of Love and Charity, who bought the land from Harvey and Lucy Shannon for $1,000, established the cemetery in 1884. It originally encompassed 52 acres; however, through sales and transfers to the National Park Services and individuals, the entire property is now 14.5 acres.
Until the mid-1940’s, Beulah was the main cemetery for African Americans in Vicksburg. Before this, African Americans were buried in churchyards or on private land. Named for the biblical land of Beulah, the cemetery has over 5,500 graves. It is the final resting place for many prominent African American individuals and families, and, indeed, for many of the ancestors of Vicksburg’s native African American population.
Graves are not laid out in orderly rows. The entire cemetery has been used since its inception, so graves dating from around the turn of the century are beside those from the 1980’s and even 1990’s. Many graves are clustered in family groups. Masonry coping and fences delineate some family plots.
In the 1950’s, a chain link fence and metal arch entranceway were built around the property. Low chain link and concrete barriers once divided the cemetery but now these have mostly deteriorated. Two main unpaved roadways run through the property. The graves are oriented in a southeast-east direction. The tombstones range from elaborately carved obelisks to crude handmade markers.
Many of the markers and graves are sunken and badly in need of fill. Some graves are washing out of the side of a large gully that runs through the middle of the property. Vegetation can be heavy and efforts continue to keep the cemetery mowed.
(Written from an outline based upon the research of Janie Middleton as project director of the the Beulah Cemetery and Nancy Bell as executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.)