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The Forgotten Burial Slaves -- From Pittsburgh to Down South
Driving through Western PA, looking for inspiration...
6 millions before the Holocaust...
Since 1624, when the first slaves arrived in New Amsterdam, New York after 1664, there have been an estimated 6 million burials that were unaccounted for. People that fell on the hands of traders and were sent to America as Human Cargo. My driving toward Pittsburgh, and my mind tipped me off on this subject. Doing the proper research, I was ashamed myself for the unjust treatment toward our friends' ancestors. Sorry Chris Brown, now I understand that rage. Not even mentioning the other 'Brown.'
HiGHWAYS AND SWAMPS
So where are the cemeteries from that people? Mostly were erected on the corner of the Master's land, with no names but just a simple rock or simple stakes. Afraid and with just a new language, this Slaves did what they could to bury their dead. If you see me driving and feeling the breeze, I felt their pain and lack of freedom. I was driving at 70 miles/hour, but back in 1640, they could only walk to the nearest barn or a Church of their own. I saw an scenery created freely by God. As simple as it could appear, driving away to another state, was in the imagination of a sorcerer, and they wouldn't have come with me for the ride. Seeing cars around them, the uninvited slave would've open the door and run for his life.
A link to 90,000 families that have records of obituaries.
Presently, They have documented over 90,000 African-American family histories through cemetery records and obituaries : www.blackcemeteries.com
Sadly, some have been found, but...
Manhattan 1991- Workers excavating land for a Federal building found the first skeletal remains from 400 men, women and children. By October full-scale excavation for the construction of the Foley Square Project had already begun.Before Greenwich Village, there was this undesired quarter near Wall St. The remains were reburied at the site
Dallas Texas, Early 1990's-- The remains of at least 1,157 19th Century African Americans and Former slaves were accidentally found on a 1 acre plot, when they were ready to make way for a Highway, said James Davidson, A University of Florida Anthropologist, who led the discovery.
Carleston S.C., 2 years ago-- Historians found at least 10 African-American Burial sites within the boundaries of the city, Said Michae trinkley, Director of the Tricora Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to Cemetery preservation. Mostly these sites are covered with landfill and paved over.
New Orleans,Mississippi River elbow--This grassy area held no trace of the people buried underneath. Being 20 miles west of New Orleans, there was no way to find a simple sign. marker, less a tombstone. But 300 former slaves buried in two cemeteries, were unearthed. Only a handful of great grand parents knew they ever existed.
The lucky ones that could afford a tombstone
During the Civil war, Many slaves joint the Union Forces, and some had a decent burial.
Two years after that great flood of New Orleans, back in 1927, the Army corps purchased the swamped areas-- about 7,000 acres, and turned into the Bonnet-carre Spillway, to alleviate the pressure of a rising Mississippi, to prevent a new flooding, like in 2005. It's not well known if the Corps Oficials knew about some cemeteries, with no names or landmarks. Around 1975, workers that were cleaning a corner of the spillway, unearthed a chunk of a marble headstone, casket pieces and human remains. The Headstone belonged to Sanders Ray, a former slave that joined the Union Army.
Records told us that he belonged to Company H 10th Colored Heavy artillery unit. He was given a military burial and was the link to find others cemeteries, thanks to Ray's descendants lead. The Corps has decided to erect an informational placard, and plant rows of bushes and live Oak trees. Descendants wanted the Cemetery stay as it was, but applauded the Corp's efforts.
Forgotten human lives under the silt and Centenial mud, should be recognized as the people that really helped to build this country. There are so many unmarked burials that your old neighbor might have heard of, and kept it as a tale... unless you could've made a move and shared it.