Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anthropologist visit to assist in cemetery preservation

On July 19th, Dr. A. Midori Albert, Associate Professor of (Forensic) Anthropology Department at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and two of her associates, John Navarra and Rebecca Sutphin, assisted me during my stabilization of the Petteway Family Cemetery (ca.1885). I had discovered what was thought to be a shallow grave with various bones lying out in the open.
(L to R) Rebecca, Under Grad. student--Dr. A. M. Albert--John, Teacher of Anthropology, looking at various bones uncovered during cleanup of the largest all African American "Family" cemetery within Onslow County, N.C. (southeastern region of the state).
We spent the day touring the Petteway family cemetery and the family's Patriarch, Dalton Odell Petteway who is the grandson of former slave George Washington Petteway, was on hand to tell some oral history of his family and the cemetery.

Mr. Dalton Odell Petteway (wearing hat) stands with members of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Anthropology Department. Odell told a few stories of his Grandfather, George Washington Petteway, former slave of the Petteway Plantation.

After leaving the Petteway cemetery our group went to what is believed to be the largest all African American "Community" cemetery within Onslow County, North Carolina. Although there were no bones to identify within this grave yard, I gave the Anthropologists a guided tour of the cemetery and discussed the site as I first saw it in December 2006, comparing to what it looks like today.

(L to R) Myself (Jack Robinson), Dr. Albert and Rebecca standing beside the grave of Martha Fisher, former slave, who is now at rest within the Brick Mill Cemetery.

Later, before Dr. Albert and her associates left we stopped at Arnold's Resturaunt in Richlands, N.C. , had lunch and talked about the two tours and future projects of working together.

By the way, the exposed bones within the shallow grave that I located were eventually declared non-human, however, Odell Petteway recalls through family history handed down to him by his father, that slaves may have been buried within the same area of the sunken grave where the animal bones were located. Dennis Jones, a respected local historian has confirmed this possibility.

The adventure to stabilize the Petteway family cemetery and the Brick Mill cemetery continues to bring new information about the people who once lived in the surrounding communities.

Updates will follow...

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