Workers were cutting limbs in anticipation of dropping trees at the Gates of Peace Cemetery in Louisiana last week to keep Pike County history intact.
A large maple at the front of the cemetery and several other species along the western fence of the facility were threatening the stability of the plot, according to Jay Hurd. Hurd is the owner of Jay Hurd Tree Service, of Eolia, that was paid by cemetery owner Pike County to do the work.
The large maple at the front of the cemetery was rotten inside and the other trees were pushing on the historic stones and wrought iron fence, Hurd said.
The cemetery — also known locally as “Jewish Cemetery” —was established by the county’s Jewish community in June 1871, according to an article by Karen Schwandron and the Rev. Maurice C. Kaser in the Pike County historical book “People, Places and Pikers.”
It is located at the west end of the Louisiana area between the Buffalo Township fire station and the junction of Georgia Street and Hwy. 54.
The cemetery land was purchased for $100 by the Hebrew Benevolent Association of Israelites of Louisiana and Bowling Green for burial of Jewish community members.
In 1872, the association named the cemetery, which is still written in English and Hebrew on the top of its elaborate entrance gate.
The cemetery is one of the last reminders of a large Jewish community that lived in Pike County at the turn of the 20th Century, according to the article.
Jewish immigrants came to the county in the mid-1900s and prospered as entrepreneurs, many of them in dry goods businesses.
The sizable Jewish community in Louisiana dwindled by the mid 1900s when birth rates dropped off and existing descendants left the area, according to the article.
By the 1980s, only a few of them remained.