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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Winston-Salem in Forsyth County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The African American Graveyard

 
 
The African American Graveyard Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
1. The African American Graveyard Marker
Inscription.  
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

The African American Graveyard Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
2. The African American Graveyard Marker
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of the old Parish Graveyard for Strangers. For Salem's black Moravian this posed a problem: Moravian rituals, such as the Easter Sunrise Service, required a Christian space. Archaeological and historical research suggests that the solution was to bury Christians to the north of the east-west walkway and all others to the south. These Christians were further divided by age and church affiliation. In this section, children were buried to the east and adults to the west; adults were then further segregated, with Moravian church members buried in the eastern half of the adult section and non-Moravians in the western half. South of the walkway at least 92 individuals were buried, both adults and children, who were not recognized by the Church as Christians. These included freed men and women, itinerants, factory workers, and perhaps confessed Christians who Moravian leaders considered insincere in their faith. Apparently they were buried side-by-side in the order of death.

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

The graveyard image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
3. The graveyard
placed on the few graves that were specific individuals have been identified. All other graves sites have been marked with modern stones indicating whether the individual was an adult or child. Attached to the Church is a memorial plaque: listing everyone known to have been buried in this cemetery. The names on the left are those buried in the African American Graveyard and the names on the right are those buried in the Parish / Strangers' Graveyard.

[Caption:]
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 AmericansAnthropology & ArchaeologyCemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & 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

The memorial of known individuals interred image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
4. The memorial of known individuals interred
. Marker is on South Church Street just north of Race Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 913 S Church St, Winston Salem NC 27101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
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.

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May. 14, 2021