Friday, August 17, 2012

Marion's Forgotten Pioneer Negro Cemetery

Mr. Tom McKinney has worked for several years on the Black cemetery that is located in a corner of his property at the end of North Weldon Street.  This is the cemetery where Marion's pioneer Negro citizens would have been buried.

 Forgotten for many years, the cemetery has been there, unknown and unnoticed by most of the local people.  Only a few of the older Negro generation remembered anything about the cemetery.  Now they are gone.  Mr. McKinney gathered as much information from the few remaining ones that he could.

Wanting to preserve the little pioneer cemetery, Mr. McKinney in resent years has had it surveyed and now fenced as to protect it as best he can.  He has had a new wrought iron entrance installed this summer.  It says CA 1840 - Old Marion Negro Cemetery.  Picture above.

Also this year I went with him and did some grave dowsing and found many unmarked graves.  Many have sandstone rocsk as head stones, and many are just sunken places in the ground.  One very historic stone that is there, is for Edward D. Churchill, a Civil War Veteran.  He has a government stone.  Served in Co. I, 8th US Colored Heavy Artillery.  The only Negro Civil War stone in the county. 

Through research from the old Crittenden Presess, I have found many obituaries of Black people that were buried there, and also Death Certificates that tells of many unmarked burials.  We have compiled a list and Mr. McKinney, at his own expensive,  had Henry and Henry Monuments to  create a memorial stone.  It is now placed at the entrance of the grave yard. 

Front of the newly set stone, with names and dates of ones that we have documentation for being buried here, but has no stone.

The back of the stone has a very appropriate memorial for those buried here without a tombstone.  They are no less loved, but are known but to God.

Mr. McKinney is a kind and caring person to want to preserve this part of our history that has laid untouched  for many, many years.  He still has plans for more cleaning and clearing of the area.

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