The stories of our cities are told through the accomplishments of those interred
in our historic cemeteries. Civil War battles have raged within their gate,
with soldiers seeking refuge behind the tombstones. Hidden away among neighborhoods,
our founding families lie interred, nearly forgotten to history. Nameless
victims of epidemics erased from the consciousness of our citizens long
to remembered. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana serves as steward
to two of Baton Rouge’s oldest and most historic cemeteries. It also
holds a place of the Board
of the Mid City Historic Cemeteries Coalition.
• Historic Magnolia Cemetery
• Historic Highland Cemetery
Historic Magnolia Cemetery
In 1852, the property that was to become the Baton Rouge City Cemetery lay
at the outer edges of town. The high, rolling land was covered with magnolia
and other trees and at one end of the woods stretched an agricultural field.
On August 10th of that year, they city purchases the tract from John Christian
Buhler, Jr, for $3000 and Magnolia Cemetery was established. Although most
of the lots were sold to individuals and benevolent societies, one-quarter
was set aside as a potter’s field for the poor and unknown. Within the
wrought-iron fence, bounded by Main, Florida, North 19th, and North 22nd Streets,
provide a poignant “who’s who” of
old Baton Rouge. Among the more well-known individuals interred at Magnolia
are famous Louisiana author, Lyle Saxon; Civil War Photographer, Andrew Lytle;
Judge Thomas Gibbs Morgan, father of Civil War diarist Sarah Morgan; and Charles
Phelps Manship, Sr., publisher of the State-Times
and Morning Advocate.
Some of the heaviest fighting waged during the Civil War Battle of Baton Rouge
took place in and near the cemetery. The markers, trees, and picket fence surrounding
the cemetery were used as cover by both Confederate and Union troops during
the hour-long engagement. Musket and cannon shot caused extensive damage to
the site. Eighty-four Confederate and eighty-four Union troops were killed
in the conflict. The next day, after the Confederate troops had withdrawn from
the city, local citizen gathered the bodies of the Confederate dead. Although
historical records are unclear, local tradition holds that the majority of
them were buried in a mass grave within Magnolia Cemetery.
Following the Civil War, due to a poor economy and post-war recovery, and
later, as many of the old families moved away, Magnolia Cemetery fell into
disrepair. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Civil
War Discovery Trail, the cemetery is being restored thank to the efforts of
the Foundation for Historical Louisiana through its Magnolia Cemetery Auxiliary
Board, the Baton Rouge Parks
and Recreation Department, and
Every year, the first Saturday in August is set aside to remember the battle
that was waged in our community. The Foundation’s Historic Magnolia Auxiliary
Board sponsors a Battle of Baton Rouge Commemorative Ceremony to mark the battle’s
To support our efforts in restoring and maintaining Historic Magnolia, you
may make a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation’s Historic Magnolia
Cemetery Fund housed at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. For more information,
please call 225.387.2464.
To locate a burial at Historic Magnolia, please contact the Foundation.
Historic Highland Cemetery
Historic Highland Cemetery is the oldest existing cemetery in Baton Rouge.
George Garig donated the land for Highland Cemetery to the Catholic Church
in 1815. Some of Baton Rouge’s earliest settlers are buried there,
including Pierre Joseph Favrot and Armand Duplaniter.
When the Spanish ruled Louisiana, Pierre Joseph Favrot participated in the
1779 March of Galvez, which expelled the British from Baton Rouge. Favrot stayed
as commandant of Baton Rouge’s Fort while Governor Galvez went onto take
Duplantier came with the French forces to assist the American colonies in
their struggle for freedom from the British. He served as aide-de-camp to General
Lafayette. He later married the Widow Joyce and lived at nearby Magnolia
Through the years, attempts had been made to maintain the cemetery, but eventually
it became overgrown and neglected. Through the efforts of a volunteer group
organized by Mrs. James A. Thom, III, restoration began in 1968 and completed
in 1978. Under the auspices of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and
Historic Highland Cemetery Chairman, Kenny Kleinpeter, the cemetery is being
returned to the descendants of its inhabitants. Through cutting-edge ground-penetrating
radar, lost gravesites are being identified and relics of the past are coming
to life again. To support the restoration of Historic Highland Cemetery, please
contact the Foundation for Historical Louisiana at 225-387-2464
To purchase your copy of “Spirits of Highland” featuring the music
of Kenny Kleinpeter, please visit http://www.kleinpetermusic.com.
All proceeds from the sale of this CD go to the restoration and maintenance
of Historic Highland Cemetery.