About three and a half miles from the Southdown Plantation house in Houma, Terrebonne Parish, lies a cemetery of the same name. Southdown Cemetery is still used today however, the history is being forgotten and the grounds are used in a nefarious manner. Many of Southdown’s slaves were buried on the grounds in and around the cemetery however their markers, if any, are long gone.
Newspaper articles published in the past two decades reveal dark instances of historical coverup, however, further inquiry has led to roadblocks. A company from New Orleans was hired over twenty years ago to survey the cemetery’s surrounding property to build a new parish library. The survey revealed possible pockets left in the ground. The final conclusions were that the areas were mass graves of slaves who died from the yellow fever epidemic over 150 years ago. Terrebonne Parish government was not able to return my inquires into the subject therefore more research into the matter is needed.
The cemetery itself is open to the public from dawn to dusk, however, homeless people appear to stay through the night hours. Back in the far east corner behind some trees, a tent, cushions, and scattered books used for a fire, can be found. Many of the headstones are taken care of and whitewashed. Two areas are specifically for babies and young children. Many gravesites have multiple tombs buried on top of one another. The history of Southdown Cemetery points to an enslaved cemetery that has been passed down to their descendants. The grounds are an open-air Louisiana slave family history museum that should be remembered instead of forgotten.