Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cemetery Log Date: May 22, 2014

And now, for something a little different...

African Cemetery at Higgs Beach in Key West was added to the National Register of Historic Places 2012.  It is very difficult to get NRHP listing for a cemetery, but this one went through at lightening speed.  And for good reason. 

In 1860 more than 1,432 African men, women and children were rescued from three slave vessels (Wildfire, William, and Bogota)  traveling from the Congo River in Africa to Cuba (Swanson).  At that time the US Navy had four steam ships dedicated to suppress the slave trade between Cuba and Africa, supporting in 1808 ban of slave importation to the US (Spain also banned in 1820).  African refugees were sent to Key West where homes and hospitals were built to care for them.  Most of the refugees returned to Africa, but 295 died in Key West and were buried in three areas of unmarked graves.  Only a fraction of the burial site is preserved and interpreted, the rest of the site remains potentially intact under the Monroe County park that serves as a dog park.

Who: Monroe County owns and manages the site
What: African burial ground,
Where: Higgs Beach on Key West in the Florida Keys.  Map
When: Park is open dawn to dusk
  • According to National Register nomination, "no other site in America is comparable to this one."  The people were Africans, not enslaved Africans in America, nor enslaved or free African Americans. (Barbara Mattick 2012)
  • Only active for a three month period in 1860 
  • Stunning memorial park with mural of map on the cement foundation and beautiful sculptures interpreting African symbols placed around the park.

Text & images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff. 

For previous posts search: Cemetery a Day in May or #CaDiM

2014 #CaDiM posts

2013 #CaDiM posts
Intro, May 1: National, May 2: Oakdale, May 3: Murphy's Creek, May 4: Mt. Olive, May 5: Bosque Bello, May 6: Old City, May 7: Espanola, May 8: Tolomato, May 9: Pacetti, May 10: West View, May 11: Magnolia SpringsMay 12: St. Peter's, May 13: Gravely Hill, May 14: Pilgrim's Rest, May 15: God's Little Acre, May 16: Dummet's Grave, May 17: No Name, May 18: St. Monica, May 19: St. Joseph's, May 20:  Old St. Joseph's (Duval), May 21: Sampson, May 22: Fernandez Reserve, May 23: St. Ambrose, May 24: Sons of Israel, May 25: Sanksville, May 26: Huguenot, May 27: Nombre de Dios, May 28: Beresford, May 29: Jones, May 30: San Sebastian/Pinehurst, May 31: Oaklynn

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