Saturday, June 21, 2008

Finding old African American graves in a forgotten cemetery

I have continued my research dealing with All African American cemeteries that I started in January 2007. I spend, on average, forty hours per week documenting, promoting, and stabilizing seven cemeteries. I pay all expenses, such as, labor, research fees, supplies and equipment. Yes, the cost is a challenge but, the rewards for the community is worth the strain
on my limited budget.

The hardest part of my work is locating graves where headstones were never placed but, evidence suggest a grave exists. In certain areas of a cemetery, for example, nearly
perfectly spaced graves with headstones (or metal nameplate markers) are located along
with an open flat area, between the headstones.

(Image A: Flat surface between two known grave sites)

(Image B: Same location as image A but, measured)

Image C: Same as previous images with "Memorial Rock."

Located three inches under known surface, which suggests a grave site.

Throughout each of the cemeteries I have worked on have this unique challenge.

To find a grave within a flat area which has been over grown by weed or traditional grass over the grave is a tedious job but, when done properly, the results will be extremely rewarding.


Rediscovered grave. Notice the depth of metal name plate

Which, after decades under ground, still maintains a partially handwritten identification label--

Eddie Rhodes (date of death was unreadable.

Currently, at my own time, labor and expense, I am stabilizing the following all African American Cemeteries:

Brick Mill Cemetery:

Now recognized as the largest all African American cemetery within Onslow County. It has been in continous operation since ca.1900 or, as evidence suggest, even earlier.

Petteway family Cemetery:

Located just outside of Richlands, N.C., this cemetery appears to be the largest all African American "Family" cemetery in Onslow County. Est. ca.1880, it is still being utilized by Petteway family members. Descendents of the "Plantation Owner's Petteway family," are buried adjacent, within a separate plot of land, next to the African American Petteway cemetery.

Parker/Mills' family cemetery:

Located just north of Richlands, N.C., this small family cemetery contains one of the oldest African American graves dating 1874. There are at least five "missing" graves that may predate the still standing 19th Century headstone.

Toudle/Toodle family cemetery:

Located within thick woods and over growth of vines and brier bushes, this is a small but, historical valuable cemetery. The only known Spanish-American War African American veteran, from Onslow County is laid to rest in these Hallowed Grounds.

My research on African American cemeteries is growing each month. I am gathering a great deal of information from the local communities. My projects are not "non-profit" or associated with any church, "non-profit" organization or museum. The citizens from the various communities where these cemeteries are located, along with N.C. historians and other national researchers are helping me with my research.

The highest challenge is obtaining "financial gifts," of any kind in aiding in my research work. Replacement of dirt, missing headstones, and other things such as tools, gas, and grass seed or sod is costly. If you wish to give a financial gift you can use "PayPal" using my email address which is: jackrobinson@hotmail.com.

Here is my personal address if, you wish to send a comment or gift:

Jack Robinson

Gysgt., U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

P.O. Box 1501

Richlands, North Carolina 28574 (USD only please)

Any financial gift will be put toward needed supplies and equipment for each projects. Anyone who gives a gift will be added to my "Friends of cemetery preservation" list.

Please be aware that I am not a "Not-For-Profit" organization.

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