For Cheryl Freeman Snipes, the placement of a historical marker on Berry College’s Mountain Campus means the continuation of a legacy.
Snipes traveled from Redford, Michigan, for a ceremony Saturday to commemorate Freemantown, a late 19th century, African-American settlement on Lavender Mountain.
“It means that after over 100 years, Freemantown is finally being recognized for being a black, family-owned property at the time,” said Snipes.
A cemetery with a few headstones is all that remains of the post-Civil War community established by emancipated slave Thomas Freeman.
Snipes is the great-granddaughter of Samuel Freeman, Thomas Freeman’s brother. “My reason for recognizing it (is) for the sake of a black family owning — not being given — property. They purchased that property themselves.”
She said the Freemans allowed four other families — the Joneses, the Montgomerys, the Sanfords and the Rogerses — to live on the property and harvest off of it.
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In the midst of the succession of 150th anniversaries associated with the Civil War, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey shed light on an issue to which those of us who dwell in the 21st century likely don’t give much thought: cemeteries segregated by race.
Casey called on the Veterans Administration to take steps to recognize black Civil War veterans buried in segregated cemeteries. “Thousands of African-American Civil War veterans are buried in segregated cemeteries that are often forgotten,” according to a press release issued by the senator’s office. Casey asked the VA to establish a public database listing where African-American Civil War veterans are buried.
According to the senator’s office, black soldiers, both slave and free, who fought with the Union Army were not usually laid to rest alongside their fellow white soldiers in the cemeteries that were created after battle due to segregation practiced during the Civil War.
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A historic cemetery dating to the 1800s was damaged this week when a developer started to bulldoze the land with heavy equipment, according to the property’s owners.
The Bradshaw family has owned the land for more than 160 years. It’s located near the corner of Maxey and Church Roads in Houston.
Jeremy Nelloms, whose grandmother is buried at the site and is related to the Bradshaw family, said it’s possible the developers damaged graves when workers started bulldozing the area Monday evening.
“A lot of people in this family are old, but now the grandkids want to come out here and get the place cleaned up, like it should be,” Nelloms said.
The cemetery is overgrown with bushes and grasses, and many graves are covered in weeds. Nelloms said there are many graves that are unmarked and the developers could have poured concrete on graves.
At this time, the family is not sure who the developer is.
Community activist Quanell X held a press conference this afternoon to bring attention to the case.
“You have people buried here, our ancestors are on this property,” Quanell said. “You cannot buy our ancestors.”
“There was no record kept, but we do know that there are an untold number of bodies out here,” he added. “There are babies buried out here. We could all be standing on graves right now. We probably are.”
The Bradshaw Cemetery is included in a list of historic cemeteries at www.houstonhistoricaltours.com, and is one stop on a tour of cemeteries in the East Northeast Houston area.
The Mount Zion Cemetery in Georgetown, one of the oldest remaining African-American cemeteries in Washington, DC, has been placed on the list of this year’s “Most Endangered Places in Washington” by the D.C. Preservation League.
A crumbling African-American cemetery in Georgetown and a vacant embassy building in Sheridan-Kalorama are among the six properties highlighted on this year’s “Most Endangered Places in Washington” list.
The D.C. Preservation League has released the list annually since 1996 to publicize notable sites in the city threatened by neglect, demolition or alteration. The league says this strategy has achieved some success — several “Most Endangered” properties from years past have since been restored or preserved, including the Howard Theatre and the D.C. War Memorial.
For the 2012 list, all but one of the sites are located in Northwest D.C., including two in Georgetown.
The Mount Zion Cemetery is tucked behind an apartment complex in northern Georgetown, adjacent to the better-known and -maintained Oak Hill Cemetery.
Technically, the property at 27th and Q streets comprises two burial grounds — the original Old Methodist Burying Ground, which dates back to 1808, and the Female Union Band Cemetery, established in 1842.
The site, recognized as one of the oldest remaining African-American cemeteries in Washington, is “now in a state of disrepair,” according to the preservation league. “[H]eadstones are broken or missing, vegetation grows unchecked, and the sign marking the cemetery has disappeared.”
A board of trustees, however, hopes the preservation league’s attention will help speed its planned restoration and improvements at the memorial park. “We feel like it’s going to enable us to proceed with seeking grants and other sources of funding to develop a vision for the area and try to restore it to its historical purpose of honoring our deceased,” said board member Neville Waters, who has ancestral links to the cemetery.
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MANSFIELD — A fence divides two cemeteries, one founded for white people, the other for blacks.
The fence has been there as long as anyone locally can remember. It stayed up, and presumably was replaced a few times, after the U.S. military was integrated in 1948, after the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional in 1954 and after the Mansfield schools were forcibly integrated in 1965.
The U.S. even elected a half-black president in 2008.
Yet the fence is still there.
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July 10th, 2011 in
SPRINGFIELD, Mo –People come together to restore Springfield’s oldest African-American cemetery.
The Lincoln Memorial Cemetery is the oldest African-American cemetery in Springfield.
It opened in 1919 as a result of “separate but equal” laws.
It’s a cemetery for several prominent African Americans, including veterans, ministers and educators, all from the Ozarks.
Most of the more than 300 people that are buried in the cemetery are African Americans.
Court decisions in the mid-1950′s opened Lincoln Memorial to all races.
The Central High School Class of 1962 dedicated a flag pole to the cemetery.
A new association seeks to maintain three of McDowell County’s historically black cemeteries and make sure that they are preserved for future generations. But it needs the public’s help to make sure these cemeteries get the attention they deserve.
The recently formed McDowell Cemetery Association Inc. is committed to the present and future maintenance of Glades Cemetery on Nix Creek Road, McDowell Cemetery on Westbrook Drive and Morehead Cemetery on Morehead Road. Glades and McDowell cemeteries are being maintained by the association, and state inmates were recently brought in to clean up Morehead Cemetery.
Larry Boyce, president of the association, and City Councilman Billy Martin, a member, said they are asking for the public’s help in this worthwhile effort, especially those who have relatives laid to rest in those cemeteries. They, too, have family members who are buried there.
“We are asking individuals and families who have burial plots or family members buried in any of these three cemeteries to consider making annual donations or contributions to the help cover the cost of maintaining and improving these sacred properties in our community,” reads a letter from the McDowell Cemetery Association.
“We feel it necessary to address this situation now for fear of all our African-American cemeteries ultimately deteriorating and becoming overgrown like the Morehead City Cemetery,” the letter added. “This is our mission, to see that our deceased loved ones are treated with the love and the respect they so richly deserve.”
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MOBILE, Ala. — A year after an archaeological project located hundreds of unmarked graves at the site, a historical marker was dedicated at the Old Plateau Cemetery and Africatown Graveyard today.
The marker is the 35th in the African-American Heritage Trail of Mobile. The trail was established in 2007 by the Mobile Historic Preservation Society and is directed by Dora Finley.
In late 2009 and early 2010, a project conducted by Neil Norman of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., used ground-penetrating radar supplied by Daphne Utilities to locate unmarked graves throughout the site along Bay Bridge Cutoff Road on Mobile’s north side.
At the marker unveiling, University of South Alabama professor Kern Jackson and AfricaTown descendant Philip Tyus performed a rite in which water from the Mobile River was poured into the ground while the names of some of those buried at the site were recited.
About 3,000 people are buried at the cemetery, which was established in 1876.
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February 8th, 2011 in
Annie Alloway, who died in January at the age of 76, wanted to be laid to rest with her mother and other members of her family.
When her family and friends huddled together at Lincoln Cemetery to pay their final respects to the woman who had entertained them so often with her jokes and stories, they saw tears, respect and love. They did not see the three large garbage bags of trash that Alloway’s nephew, Autry Bostick, spent hours picking up before her service.
“I didn’t want them to see trash all around like that,” said Bostick, a 57-year-old who once lived in Montgomery but now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Most say conditions at Lincoln Cemetery are actually better today than in past years, but that isn’t saying much. There are worse troubles than litter plaguing Montgomery oldest commercial cemetery for African-Americans.
When human bones are visible because of broken concrete slabs and there is no one tracking who is buried there, litter becomes a minor issue.
Lincoln Cemetery has long been one of Montgomery’s most notorious mysteries. Although privately owned, for years no one has acknowledged owning the cemetery. If the city, family members and volunteer groups did not periodically maintain the property, no one would.
Yet the burials continue.
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Our good friend Joyce McCollum is asking for our help to save this cemetery. Her email follows:
Regarding the removal of African American Cemetery in Sumter County Florida, we are in a home stretch for tomorrow night’s Sumter County Commission meeting. FOX13 Tampa aired a news story tonight about the cemetery, All the more reason to bombard the commission with emails. One Commissioner’s heart has definitely turned. We need the rest. FOX13 News story: http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2.cgi?073+article+News+20091007104347073073003
Letters to the Editor: http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2.cgi?073+article+Opinion+20091007103219073073004
Their email addresses are below. Many of you took action previously but we need to renew and intensify our efforts. I am also wondering if we don’t need a S.O. S. site for endandered historical African American sites. Is there one online? I became involved with an effort to prevent a highway going through the cemetery in Henderson, KY. The road expansion would have been over the burial sites of my maternal great-grandparents. We won that one – for now. And I am reminded of Milligen’s Bend, LA. where my great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. I’m told that there has been an historical marker but it was vandalized and not replaced. You can read the story of Milligen’s Bend Battle and the United States Colored Troop who fought there online. It’s a story worth reading and retelling. (I recommend looking for ancestors on the Civil War enlistment rolls. The pension files fron NARA are extremly informational). I feel that we have a responsibility to identify unrecognized places of African American historic signifigance and see that it’s recorded and/or preserved.and publicized. Many communities have oral tradition on events that happened and had a social or familial impact on the residents. The latest genealogy news on our First Lady, Michelle Obama, showed a perfect example of following the paper trail and putting life into those names and dates. It can start with a local place or event and the names of those who shared in an event. Food for thought. Don’t forget the Sumter County Cemetery. Spread the word and please send emails to the following addresses. Promote preservation!
Dick Hoffman: Dick.Hoffman@sumtercountyfl.gov
Doug Gilpin: Doug.Gilpin@sumtercountyfl.gov
Don Burgess: Don.Burgess@sumtercountyfl.gov
Garry Breeden: Garry.Breeden@sumtercountyfl.gov
Randy Mask: Randy.Mask@sumtercountyfl.gov
Thanks for your efforts and I hope to have some great news for you on this matter soon.
Peace & Love
Joyce Reese McCollum