May 9, 2017

The Unseen Dead.

     There is a cemetery in Montgomery that may have 7,000 bodies buried in a facility intended to be the final resting place for 700. It's Lincoln Cemetery on the hillside behind the Mid-Town Walmart.   
     Or more directly, right next to the Alabama News Network studios on Harrison Road where I work every morning.
  There are flags in the cemetery that mark the many veteran's graves from both World Wars and those since.

     Rotary Club volunteers cut the grass and do the best they can to keep the place from falling into ruin.

     I got thinking about it again when I read this story about the site of a former "Lunatic" asylum on the current campus of the University of Mississippi Medical School.
     Researchers believe there are that same number of graves, 7,000, under buildings and roads on the University's property too. But they are spread out over 20 acres!

In 2013, UMMC officials discovered 66 coffins while constructing a road on the 164-acre campus.
When the university began work in 2014 on a parking garage east of the dental school, underground radar revealed 1,000 coffins. More radar work revealed more coffins.
Didlake said current estimates put the number as high as 7,000.
                                                                                  (from the Clarion Ledger newspaper.)

     The Lincoln property is a much smaller affair.
     Some of the people who's remains are buried include figures associated with the Civil Rights Era. It was, after all, an African American cemetery from the era where black could not only not eat with whites, but could not even share hallowed ground when they died.

     The man who taught Hank Williams to play the guitar is buried there. Rufus Payne was known as "Te Tot". He gets an historic marker, more than most of the deceased there. Yet the exact location of his grave is unknown. Just like the 7,000 in Mississippi. 

     Rest in Peace indeed.



Charles Kinnaird said...

"the era where black could not only not eat with whites, but could not even share hallowed ground when they died." This reminded me of the cemetery in my hometown. There was a brick wall about a foot high that ran down the middle. Growing up, I didn't think anything of it. After I was grown and had moved away, someone told me that that wall was to separate the black graves from the white graves. I was shocked to hear that. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit my parents graves. While I was there, I walked over to the older part of the cemetery where the wall was. As I read the names on the markers, I recognized many family names that did indeed indicate that it was "the colored section" of the cemetery.

Jay Croft said...

Since the wall Charles speaks of was above ground, and the graves are underground, building the wall was an exercise in futility.

Kind of like the wall that Trump is proposing.

Tim Lennox said...

True, but then again even if it were a mile high and fifty feet thick it would ne futile. Souls know no such boundaries


Jay Croft said...

Wonder if this is where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.