“If you don’t take care of this now, there will become a time when it’s too late."
Amount Paid in taxes to date: $15,246.18
As previously mentioned, In 1975, the six surviving heirs of the Hicks estate unanimously agreed to deed the church and cemetery property to the Jordan Stream church. However, Jordan Stream church was never formed as a legal entity, merely a name. Thus, the church was unable to own any property. The church property, including the cemetery, is considered heirs property.
In 1982 Alberta Hicks passed away and mysteriously her will was never found. Having never been married or given birth to any children, her parcel (approximately 8.2 acres) is also deemed heirs property as well. See About Heirs Property page for definition.
Due to changing economic conditions and societal norms, the membership of the Jordan Stream church has steadily declined since the early 1960's. In February 2018, services were suspended indefinitely due to an insufficient number of active members to sustain normal operations. As a result, the resources needed to provide perpetual care to the church cemetery were no longer available.
Over the past decades, thousands of acres of land and hundreds of African American cemeteries throughout the south are being neglected because of heirs property laws. These cemeteries, like Jordan Stream, are in danger of being lost from overgrowth or being bulldozed down and wiped out by unsympathetic real estate investors for the purpose of building new developments.
Experts say “You need to think 20, 50 years down the road – are you still going to find the Jordan Stream cemetery or any of the graves?” They also say “If you don’t take care of them now, there will become a time where it’s too late."
The Risk of Inaction
There are countless cases, but see this short list of articles listed below.
Black Deaths Matter
Historic black cemeteries have devolved into trash dumps and overgrown forests, while tidy Confederate memorials still draw public funding.
Historic black cemeteries under siege in the South
In Palatka, Fla., the Francis Community Black Cemetery was recently paved over for the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant.
Black history dies in neglected Southern cemeteries
Local burials divided by race, and tended to unevenly, some burial plots are left to simply fade away.
A Tale of Two Cemeteries
The black families who were edged out of their historical State-Thomas neighborhood witnessed the outright destruction to their own cemetery.
Governor’s secret business deal threatens lost African American graves
No one asked Ernestine Jones, or her sister, Bernice Jamison. The elderly African American sisters weren’t privy to confidential talks between Mississippi officials and a German tire manufacturer over the sale of public land near their home for a $1.45 billion industrial site.
Complaints filed after logging damages historic black cemetery
Local genealogists and archaeologists are concerned about logging damage in an historic black cemetery between Millstadt and Centreville that has graves from the 1800s and early 1900s, including those of Civil War soldiers.
African Americans Have Lost Untold Acres of Land Over the Last Century
An obscure legal loophole is often to blame.