STEELE CREEK NEWS
Neighbors Work to
Clean up Old Cemetery on Saturdays
2011) Earlier this year, residents in a neighborhood off Pine Harbor
Road discovered an abandoned cemetery next to Rainbarrel Road.
Research of the names on some of the stones showed that they were
African American farmers who lived from before the Civil War and
died up through the early 1900's.
grave stone (right) says was born in 1842 and died in 1917. According to
the1910 census he was a black farmer who couldn't read or write.
Little more was known about this man who was buried in this small,
overgrown cemetery near Long Cove Marina and Lake
Wylie. His is one of only a few grave stones that are still legible,
so even less is known about the other people who lived in the area
until they went to their final resting place in this small, rural
Ted Driggs and other area
residents hoped to
get permission to clean up and fence off the area. Their problem
that they didn't know who owned the cemetery and who to ask for
permission -- until a few weeks ago when NewsChannel 36 invited
Driggs to meet with members of the Ramoth AME Zion Church. The
members discovered their ancestors' cemetery that they had lost, and
Driggs received permission to tidy it up.
See the report here:
Mystery of local slave cemetery solved (July 13, 2011).
Driggs and his neighbors have
met at the cemetery for the last two Saturday's plan to meet
at the cemetery each Saturday beginning at 9:00 A.M. until the
cemetery is cleaned up. Members of the Ramoth AME Zion Church joined
them for a prayer service last week.
If you would like to help or
have any questions about the cemetery, please
contact Ted Driggs
to area historian Linda Blackwelder, there was at one time a
small African American AME church called the Ramah Church
located near the cemetery. The church likely moved when Duke
Power purchased all of the property surrounding what was to
become Lake Wylie in the 1920s. Since there were no African
American churches in the neighborhood before the Civil War, it
probably came into existence by about 1870 and would have been
there until the property was purchased by the power company. The
early burials might have had some slaves among them, but the
later burials between about 1880 and 1920 would mostly have been
children of slaves.
time gone by where there was a little church near a river
(Catawba) which turned into a lake (Wylie). See in your
Carolina hot and
humid Sunday afternoon after a service has been held there.
Hear the voices of those breaking bread and rejoicing of
freedom and the pursuit of happiness because all men are
created equal. Watch the children play in the sunshine!
The current Ramoth AME Zion
Church is located on Dixie River Road near Windygap Road.
A single, leaning grave is
visible in the distance near the center of the photograph below.
Driggs wanted to "request and
receive permission from the current landowners to clean up and
preserve the site in the most respectfully possible way. For
regardless if these were of slave descent, black, white, yellow,
red, Kings or Queens; they are human beings that once breathed the
same atmosphere that you and I breathe today. They did not ask to
die but they did. It is our task to preserve the memory of humankind
for this was and is the essence of our existence on Planet Earth.
"These people, be they slave
or not, deserve some sort of protection of antiquity. We only want
to let these people who have passed rest in peace. They deserve
that…we owe it to them."
For the first report by WCNC News, see
Neighbors hope to clean historic cemetery (March 24, 2011).
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