OSYKA: Pike County Print

(See also Kirksville, MS and Louisiana)

Jewish Community history and photos. [January 2009]

general Pike County information. [August 2005]

  • "German-Jewish Cemetery."

"The only part of Kirksville that remains today is the German Cemetery located off US Highway 51. Started in the 1860s by John Jacob Bergold, over a hundred Catholics found burial sites in Osyka, while twenty-seven markers featured Jewish gravestones.  The Jewish part of the cemetery was home to such names as Hart, Heuman, Wolf, Cerf, Levine, Levy, Moyse, and Dreyfuss.  Adolph Cahn found a place there as well after he died during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.  Interestingly, Adolph’s wife and child went back to Germany, where future generations moved to Israel and eventually found out about their ancestors in Osyka.  This recent interest in the German cemetery from many like the Cahn descendants has called upon some to restore this “dying” cemetery with its beautiful iron gate and brick wall that many Jews had once forgotten. ... Under the supervision of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, campers at the Henry S. Jacobs camp have worked to clean up the old orphaned cemetery." Source [January 2009]

Just 150 yards over the Louisiana border on a dirt road to the east side of Highway 51 is the small Jewish cemetery. The Jewish community likely dates back to about 1854, and was hard hit by the 1878 Yellow Fever outbreak. Two inventories made in the 1950s and 1960s list about 110 graves, though the latter census had 20 fewer names, likely due to vandalism and deterioration. Most graves are 19th century. The cemetery has been inactive for many years and is not maintained. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , [May 2005]

There are two cemeteries in Osyka. A Christian cemetery, still active, is well maintained. Adjoining this cemetery is the Jewish cemetery, inactive since 1906 and not maintained, now completely grown over with trees and undergrowth. The Jewish cemetery is approximately 100 by 200 feet and completely enclosed by what once was a very ornate brick and wrought-iron wall. Twenty-eight interments in the facility are visible from headstones that are all quite substantial. Most were ordered from a single firm (Kursheedt and Bienvinue) in New Orleans. The information on the stones tells much. The Jewish community in Osyka probably was established in 1854, the year the railroad from New Orleans reached Osyka. The community obviously was hard hit by the Yellow Fever Epidemic that swept the area in 1878. "Regular" interments cease around 1900. I surmise that for some reason, the Jewish settlers decided to leave the town at that time. A sampling of the dates and places of birth follows: Lazar Wolf...born Buschweiler, Alsace, 1826, Mina Wolf...born Lambsheim, Bavaria, 1830, Mary Hart...born Povidz, Prussia, 1828 Adolf Cahn...born Gorsheim, Bavaria, 1849, Jules Moyse... born Les Etangs, France, 1852". Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; .

Jewish section burial listings and history: "The German Association was formed by a group of immigrants of both Catholic and Jewish faith, who started their own cemetery in Kirksville, rather than use the town of Osyka's cemetery.  According to family history passed down through generations, the Catholic and Jewish people were not allowed to bury in the Osyka town cemetery. Later in the early 1900's, both Irish and Italian Catholic immigrants moved to the area and also began to bury their dead at the German Cemetery. In the northeast corner there is a brick walled area of 75ft. x 75ft. known as the Jewish cemetery. To separate their burial space in accordance with Jewish religious practice, the Jewish members built the brick wall. The cemetery was in use as early as 1859. There are a few very old graves that have no headstone or other identifying markers. They were probably made of wood and did not survive the ages. The oldest graves that have markers are in the Catholic area.  It was reported in error that the Jewish cemetery was the oldest portion; the first graves there are in 1878. The German Cemetery has the graves of many people who died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.  Osyka had 53 deaths recorded from this epidemic. Yellow fever and small pox struck again in 1905. The cemetery has been in constant use over the years and is still in use today. There are two families that use the cemetery to bury, the Sassone family of Osyka and the Ricks family of New Orleans.  The cemetery has recently received a facelift with a new fence and trimming back of the trees and brush." photo references: CROSSING JORDAN -  Slides of cemeteries of Kentwood and Tangipahoa, Louisiana done by Michael Varnado for Dr. Joy Jackson's Photographic Methods Class, Spring 1981. Slide 0--Title Slide (6 copies) "The German-Jewish Cemetery is located approximately 4 miles north of Kentwood to the right of Highway 51. The cemetery consists of a walled section containing the graves of early Jewish settlers of the Osyka, Mississippi community. Surrounding the walled section are the graves of more recent non-Jewish burials. Cemetery had its origins in a yellow fever epidemic which hit Osyka in the 1870s." [August 2005]

Southern Jewish Life (December 2011), Sandy Lassen, head of the Chevra Kadisha in New Orleans, initiated a serious effort to clear and maintain this cemetery. [Mar 2014]

photos and information [Mar 2014]


Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 18:33