Shelby City Cemetery Update

Shelby City Cemetery Update
Spring Break 2014 Work at the EKU Danville African American Cemetery Project

Several EKU students, faculty, staff, and community volunteers took advantage of Spring Break’s warm weather to continue their cleanup work at the Shelby City African American Cemetery.

The EKU Genealogy Club, which began this service project in October 2013, has recently partnered with the EKU Anthropology Program and the Department of Geography and Geology to do archaeological mapping of the cemetery. This work began over Spring Break.

EKU staff and students assisted Dr. Jon Endonino in identifying the GPS coordinates of approximately 155 graves in the currently accessible areas of the cemetery. Death certificates had previously identified only 137 burials. These data indicate that there are many more pre-1911 graves in the cemetery than expected.

Determining an accurate grave count is possible only with ground-penetrating radar, which is being planned for use at a later time. In the meantime, students and volunteers have discovered several artifacts, including fragments of 1860s Early American Pattern glass, a six-foot section of an ornate wrought-iron Victorian fence, and vintage bottles.

The all-volunteer group has cleaned up approximately half of the cemetery since October. A close investigation of the individual grave sites is just beginning.

The group is also researching the backgrounds of the people buried in this cemetery, which include several members of the U.S. Colored Troops from the Civil War and their families. A picture of a very tightly knit African American community is already emerging from this research, and the hope is to locate living descendants of these families.

Published on March 20, 2014