Cemetery tours to tell story of noteworthy Biloxians

Ever wondered about the Biloxi community leaders for whom many streets in “old Biloxi” are named? The third annual Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour will feature re-enactors who will “flesh out” the stories behind names such well-known Biloxi names as Benachi, Seal, Reynoir, Caillavet and Delauney.

This year’s tours will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27th in the oldest section of Biloxi’s National Register cemetery, on the beachfront near U.S. 90. The event is organized by the city, Biloxi Main Street, the Biloxi Bay Chamber and the Biloxi Library,

Volunteer actors from Biloxi High School, through historic re-enactments, will bring to life eight people buried in the cemetery.

Here is a list of the prominent citizens and the students who will portray them:

— Rosa Dorsey Reynoir, portrayed by Devin Cady

— Anthony Nicolas Benachi, portrayed by Sean Harding

— Florian Seal, portrayed by Frankee Trey Harris

— Elizabeth Carson Maycock Elmer, portrayed by Erika Barber

— John C Delauney, portrayed by Carlton Warnberg

— Raymond Caillavet, portrayed by Corey Gaspard

Two others involved in the program will be home-schooled student Claire Deaton, who will portray Linda Dukate; and adult re-enactor Jerry Williams, who will portray Juan de Cuevas.

“While researching the archives for script information, we uncovered some really interesting facts about the community leaders included in this year’s tour,” siad Laurie Rosetti of Biloxi Main Street.

For instance, the daughters of Mayor Frederick and Elizabeth Elmer were on a tour of Europe in 1914 when World War I began. Mayor Elmer and his wife did not receive word of their whereabouts or well being for several months and the girls were delayed returning home. All of Biloxi prayed for their safe return, which did finally occur.

Since one-time Biloxian Nicolas Marino Benachi is buried in New Orleans, his story will be told from the perspective of his son, Anthony Nicolas Benachi. The younger Benachi “was an active yachtsman at the Biloxi Yacht Club and a ‘bon vivant,’” said Jamie Ellis, director of the Local History and Local Genealogy Department of the Biloxi Library.

All of the re-enactments will be at graveside, except for Florian Seal, a former Biloxi mayor who was buried in 1927 in a newer section of the cemetery. In fact, “Mayor Seal” will serve as this year’s emcee, kicking off the tour.

The tours are free and families with children are encouraged to attend, but the public should be aware that the guided tours involve walking through uneven terrain that is not suitable for walkers or strollers.

As in past years, the Beau Rivage Casino and Resort will provide refreshments after the tours.

Those attending the event should park behind the Elks Lodge, immediately west of the cemetery, and to enter on foot through the cemetery’s U.S. 90 gate.

For more information call (228) 435-6339 or email Laurie Rosetti at lrosette@biloxi.ms.us

More online resources

The back story: For a preview of what the actors will say this evening, you can see their scripts by clicking here.

Online photos from 2008: To see photos from last year’s cemetery tours, click here.