The African American Graveyard
What began as the Parish Graveyard was extended westward to the street and designated in 1816 as the resting place for all African Americans, Moravian or not, who died in and around Salem. From that date forward, all Christian whites were then buried in God's Acre at the upper end of Church Street. From 1816 until 1859, when the graveyard was closed to new interments, 108 African Americans, both enslaved and free, were buried in the adjacent graveyard. Most of the graves were probably marked with fieldstones or perhaps wooden markers; some of the graves exhibited African-inspired decoration. At least 32 of the graves were memorialized with carved steatite or marble stones. The texts on these were carved in Moravian fashion with the person's name, their dates of birth and death, and perhaps their place of birth and age. The letters "W.A.," for Wachovia Administration, were placed on several of the stones of those people who had been owned by the Moravian Church.
When Moravians segregated their graveyards, they declared that all African Americans—Christian and non-Christian, Moravian and non-Moravian—be buried in the extension
For unknown reasons, in 1913 the few gravestones in this cemetery were pulled up and the churchyard was landscaped, leaving no visible trace of the graveyard. In 1994, archaeologists recovered 31 of the gravestones from beneath the church steps and hallway. The graveyard has been partially excavated and archaeologists have identified the locations of 90 graves. To preserve these gravestones, replicas have been
Diagram of Parish/Strangers and African American Graveyards with the location of the 90 graves excavated to date.
This diagram shows the relationship of the 1861 church and its 1890 addition to the Parish/Strangers and African American Graveyard. The African American graveyard is dissected by a central east-west walkway. North of the walkway were buried Christians who were further divided into adult and children sections. South of the walkway were buried all others with adult and children's graves intermixed.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Anthropology & Archaeology • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Churches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1816.
Location. 36° 5.048′ N, 80° 14.415′ W. Marker is in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in Forsyth County
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Last Burials in the Parish Graveyard (a few steps from this marker); The Landscape South of St. Philips (a few steps from this marker); Emancipation in Salem (a few steps from this marker); Squire's Grave (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Happy Hill Path (within shouting distance of this marker); Reich-Hege House Site (1830-1922) (within shouting distance of this marker); Lewis Hege (1840-1918) (within shouting distance of this marker); Reich-Hege Lot (1830) (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winston-Salem.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 28 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 28, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.