"Urban archaeologists trying to improve Shreveport's Red River vantage have stumbled upon interesting traces of the city's past.
Last fall, members of a Better Shreveport, which hopes to create walks and historic pathways through greenways, walked through a heavily wooded area west of the Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway and literally stumbled on crypts and masses of moldering and broken tombstones. The stone sentinels are scattered along gullies in a hilly area historically part of Coates Bluff.
"It's all the way up the hill and down the other side," Jameel Damlouji, president of the Northwes Louisiana Archaeological Society, said after a recent strenuous trek through the site. He is president of the local business Supply America and coordinates with A Better Shreveport. "We're walking through depression after depression after depression, each likely a grave. They're everywhere."
The cemetery fills the woods nestled between E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary Lab School and Caddo Parish Magnet High School.
"It is part of a larger complex of an older settlement, even older than Shreveport," said Gary Joiner, a cartographer and historian who is familiar with the property. "That cemetery sits on top of a bank that goes down to an old steamboat landing. My guess is that in addition to the graves that are marked, there are likely slave graves there that are unmarked."
According to records at the Caddo Assessor's Office, the tract belongs to Caddo Parish Schools and has been called Calvary Cemetery No. 2 and Hopewell Cemetery. City directories from 1925 through the 1950s list the cemetery and its known burials date from 1898 to 1959.
A history published by the Ark-La-Tex Genealogical Association says the cemetery began as a one-acre purchase by the Hopewell Baptist Church, then expanded over the years to more than two acres split into three sections. It was part of a 23-acre tract purchased by Caddo schools in 1949.Caddo schools Superintendent Gerald Dawkins, who said he's relatively new to the area and isn't personally familiar with the Hopewell Cemetery, said the system started an inventory on its properties in December and hopes to have it ready by the summer."