Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Burying, Disinterment, Reinterment of African Americans Remains


St Louis, Washington Park Cemetery
If you have spent any time in researching your African American ancestors’ burial site, you have probably come across a highway, road or runway running through what should have been the plot site of your ancestor.  African American burial sites were not usually part of the city planning, so as city expansions took place across America, this valuable land was “commandeered” for city development projects.  So where were the deceased reinterred?

St. Louis, Washington Park Cemetery
(North Reinterment Index)
Historically the largest African American cemetery in the St. Louis area was the Washington Park Cemetery located in the City of Berkeley, Mo., in 1920. As accustomed, this area was unincorporated. 

In 1966, according to the history of Washington Park, “the city of St. Louis acquired part of Washington Park Cemetery for purposes of ‘aviation obstruction removals and land use compatibility’ relating to Lambert Airport’s Runway…

This Cemetery Project included the disinterment and reinterment of “the human remains buried in the affected area” to include 15 cemeteries in St. Louis County and 4 in St. Louis, in addition to others. Although researchers of other displaced African American cemeteries may not be so lucky, Washington Park Cemetery researchers are provided the names of the 11,976 disinterred as they were reported to the St. Louis County Recorder of Deeds and the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds. The Index of the Washington Park Cemetery Reinterment is online.

What to Expect
The online index provides the name of the deceased and his original gravesite location and the name of cemetery and location where reinterred. Researchers will also note the “Status of Deceased” is marked as M (for moved) and the date moved is given. If paired with the online Missouri State Archives Death Certificates (1910-1960), you may solve the mystery of end of life and burial events of your ancestors.

For More Information
This information was abstracted from the City of St. Louis Recorder of Deeds and Vital Records Registrar website.

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
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