Cemetery tours: Double the history this year

Fans of annual Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour are in for something old and something new this year.

First, you’ll be seeing a lineup of 10 re-enactors representing a greatest hits compilation of sorts, with some of the most notable re-enactments from the past several years, and this year’s tour will be offered for two days, to accommodate the 77 travel writers who are part of the entourage in town for the Society of American Travel Writers conference in town.

This year’s tour, titled “Biloxi Makes History,” will be on Tuesday, Oct. 22, and will be repeated on Oct. 29. Both sessions will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Food is served, courtesy of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and Chartwells, the cafeteria manager at Biloxi Public Schools; and ice-cold Barq’s root beer will be served.

Among the 10 deceased Biloxians being portrayed this year are: root beer pioneer Edward Barq, former Biloxi Mayor and seafood magnate Lazaro Lopez, eccentric potter George E. Ohr, Biloxi banker and civic leader Glenn L. Swetman, and former slave and homeowner Pleasant Reed.

Additionally, there will be an opening ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 3:30 at the gravesite of Jean Guilhot, better known as the Hermit of Deer Island. The Biloxi Bay Chamber will be re-dedicated the grave marker at the gravesite of Guilhot, who also will be portrayed in this year’s cemetery tour.

“We’re bringing back a few of the best-known figures that we’ve done in the past because we felt it was something special for the travel writers,” said Laurie Rosetti, a city staffer who helps organize the tours each year. “All of these individuals have changed history, either on the local, state, national or international level. That’s why we’re calling it ‘Biloxi makes history.'”

The annual tours, which are marking their seventh year, have attracted hundreds each year to the cemetery, where self-guided tours are offered with period-garbed re-enactors delivering graveside soliloquies along the tour.

This year’s presentation is directed by Biloxi Little Theater director Judy Madden, who is being assisted by Charlene Deaton.

The complete lineup:

— Former Biloxi Mayor and seafood pioneer Lazaro Lopez and his family housekeeper and child care giver, Constance Lewis. Portrayed by Joey Beaugez and Ellen Lee, respectively;

— St. Cyr Zamore (Seymour), patriarch of the Seymour family and great-great-great-great grandfather of Jimmy Buffett. Portrayed by Sam Collie.

— German immigrant Elizabeth Hahn, who with her husband built the first inn on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Magnolia Hotel in Biloxi. Portrayed by Molly Cox.

— First slave and home owner Pleasant Reed. Portrayed by Kenny McGravey

— First black Archbishop of a Catholic diocese in the United States, Archbishop Eugene Marino, and St. Katharine Drexel, the only saint to have ever visited Biloxi. Portrayed by Eric Funches and Nanette Burke, respectively.

— Biloxi potter George E. Ohr. Portrayed by Bill Collins.

— Jean Guilhot “The Hermit of Deer Island.” Portrayed by Edmond Boudreaux.

— Dr. H.M. Folkes and daughter Josephine Folkes Burns. Dr. Folkes was owner of the Biloxi Sanatorium, and his home would later become the White Pillars restaurant. Josephine Folkes Burns will be portrayed in a reproduction of the costume she wore as Queen Ixolib in 1925. Portrayed by Clayton Pennylegion and Faith Webster, respectively.

— Biloxi banker and civic leader Glenn Swetman. Portrayed by grandson Read Breeland.

— Rootbeer Edward Barq and a Barq’s delivery boy. Respectively portrayed by great-grandson Robert “Bones” Barq and Christian Barq Lewis.

Photos from the cemetery


Pre- and post-Katrina: The front portion of the Biloxi city cemetery, like most of Biloxi, was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. To see pre- and post-Katrina photos of that portion of the cemetery click here.


Award-winning effort: To see photos from the city’s award-winning restoration of the Biloxi City Cemetery, click here.


The 2011 tour: For an idea of what you’ll see at this year’s tour, check out photos from the 2011 cemetery tour by clicking here.


Your weekend preview: Fun, fun, fun

To see the weekend’s entertainment lineup, as compiled by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, click here.


Land-use, zoning issues to get first airing before City Council

Land-use and zoning measures — involving annexation, bed and breakfasts and a new Waffle House — will dominate the City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon, but council members won’t be voting on the measures for at least another meeting.

The agenda includes a measure to amend Biloxi’s land-use and zoning map to add the 2.6-square miles won in the annexation victory over D’Iberville. The Biloxi Planning Commission has worked to make the zoning on the 139 parcels similar to the original Harrison County zoning.

Additionally on Tuesday, councilmembers will be asked to amend the regulations governing Bed and Breakfasts to allow more than breakfast to be served and to increase the size of special events that B&Bs can host.

Finally, councilmembers will be asked to approve a zoning change for property on Myrtle Street, midway between the Palace and Golden Nugget resorts, to allow the city’s fifth Waffle House to be constructed.

All three of these land-use measures are ordinances, which typically require two agenda appearances before being decided.

To see the complete agenda — nearly a dozen measures in all — click here.


An inside look at the stadium and other issues

In this week’s City Desk webcast, Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols offers insight into issues that dominated the Biloxi news this week, and architect Leigh Jaunsen tells you what you’ll see in Biloxi’s downtown stadium.

To listen to the program, click here.