Cemetery tour goes virtual this year

By Laurie Rosetti

Preserve Biloxi continues its annual exploration of the colorful warp and weft of Biloxi’s 321-year-old tapestry with “Family Legends and Lore 2.”

The Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour, 2020 version, is a slightly-amended event this year. The actual graveside performances will be presented virtually to the public, on BTV, the city’s municipal TV channel. You can see a 20-minute sneak peek Tuesday at 7 p.m. on BTV.

The preview will walk viewers through the upcoming tour and also provide a fascinating look at a discovery made this year in the oldest section of the cemetery, concerning the headstone of Michael Batet, heretofore believed to be the oldest existing headstone. Hosts Jane Shambra, an authority on Biloxi history, and Nick Black of NOLA Cemetery Renewal will reveal findings and mysteries solved using state-of-the-art technology. 

Next up: The main event! “Family Legends and Lore 2” will take center stage with the entire tour making its debut on BTV on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. The public was asked to submit ideas for portrayal from their own family histories. Submissions were received and the tour began to take shape. With scripts written, actors chosen, and rehearsals in full swing, the process is nearing the finish line. 

This year’s subjects are: 

Leda Anglada, worked for 50 years in Downtown Biloxi; Beach Boulevard seafood market operator Henry C. Agregaard; Ida Champeaux & Teresa Ewing, two longtime Biloxi seafood industry workers; Lessaint Broussard, a Louisiana native who comes to Biloxi for seafood work; Josephine Migues and Erica Mount, whose eerie tale involves a grandmother and granddaughter who each died in their 20s from unnatural causes; Wihelm Wallis, a German immigrant who settles in Biloxi; Nicholas Christian Ladner, a Cat Island resident who a family whose descendants number in the hundreds of thousands; Paul Taconi; John Amazon Becnel, a civil engineer and friend to Judge Walter White; and Verta Lee Swetman, U.S. Commissioner and Deputy Clerk.

The Preserve Biloxi Committee, producer of the award-winning Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour, is comprised of the City of Biloxi, Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Biloxi Main Street, the Biloxi Public Library’s Local History and Genealogy Division, Biloxi Public School District, and the University of Southern Mississippi History Department, Gulf Coast Campus.
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