The Center for University-Based Development (CUBD) at JSU recently received a grant for $15,000 dollars to do some preservation work in Mt. Olive Cemetery. The grant was awarded by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).
Mt. Olive is located on the east end of John R. Lynch St. and is right next to the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) Building. There are many prominent people buried in Mt. Olive, including James (Jim) Hill and Ida Revels-Redmond.
Mr. Jim Hill was born a slave on the J. Hill Salem Road Plantation in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1846. After the Civil War he joined the Republican party and in 1871, he was the first African American elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives where he served for several years. Ida Revels Redmond was born in 1873 and was the daughter of Hiram Revels, the first African American to serve the U.S. Congress and represented Mississippi from 1870-1871. Mrs. Revels was also the wife of Dr. Sydney Dillion Redmond, a well-known entrepreneur, lawyer, and physician.
There are 267 burial sites in Mt. Olive and the first burial dates back to 1807. Many buried in this cemetery were freedman. This cemetery represents a point of beginning for West Jackson and serves as a resting place for the first doctors, lawyers, dentists, and midwifes, of Jackson, MS.
There are three objectives of this grant.
1) Create a booklet detailing those buried in Mt. Olive and their contributions to West Jackson;
2) Restore and clean off James Hill and Ida Revels Redmond statues;
3) Complete the application to get the cemetery listed on the National Landmark of Historic Places.
Heather Wilcox, Neighborhood Development Assistant at CUBD, is the project lead for this grant and has been conducting research on the cemetery. She is also interested in talking to any relatives of those buried in the cemetery. She can be reached at 601-979-5828 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is just the beginning and it is our hope to restore the cemetery and create another tourist attraction for the Lynch Street Corridor.