A slave cemetery in Tennessee, an IOOF cemetery in Oceanside, California, and a new product for sale in my online shop!
Here are 3 items for the Taphophile newsletter for early October 2023:
Wheat Community African Burial Ground
This is a slave cemetery in what is now Roane County, Tennessee. It came to my attention from a visitor to my website! Slave owners had plantations here starting in the late 1700s. The community was originally known as Bald Hill. A new Post Office in 1880 changed the name to Wheat.
The first burials of slaves on the site appear to start in the 1850s. The Gallaher-Stone plantation was the primary “user” of the cemetery. Nearby plantation owners probably used this cemetery for slave burials as well. The graves were “lost to history” for many years. Wheat became Oak Ridge. The Department of Energy purchased the land in the 1940s. They needed space for The Manhattan Project. In the early 2000s, United States Department of Energy crews discovered the graves as they surveyed the land around the government buildings.
Those surveys identified over 90 graves at the site. Under the Department of Energy, it is Atomic Energy Commission Cemetery #2-Slave Cemetery.
Find a Grave lists the burial ground under several names:
IOOF Cemetery in Oceanside, California
The IOOF, or Independent Order of Oddfellows, is a fraternal group with branches all over the world. Their motto: visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan. As you can see on the plaque, this site opened in 1895. The other name is Oceanview Cemetery.
On the tombstone in the photo below, you can see 3 chain links horizontal across the top. This indicates that the person buried here is a member of the IOOF. The links represent Friendship, Love, Truth.
This location allowed “the common man” a burial spot near the city of Oceanside. There are older photos in the book “Cemeteries of San Diego County” by David Catarino and Seth Mallios. (Available in my online bookstore!) The West end of the site has a number of “vertical” headstones mixed in with flat headstones. The East end is almost exclusively flat headstones. A smaller mausoleum on the East end is sealed to prevent local homeless folks from sleeping inside. That building looks more like a maintenance shed now.
Find a Grave link:
Someone tried to steal a metal headstone. Fortunately, I did not see much damage to other headstones.
After the cemetery was full, funding for maintenance became a problem. The metal entrance gates have large gaps.
New product available from my online store!
The third item in the Taphophile newsletter for early October 2023! This book bag is made of organic cotton!