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Local Residents Need Help Locating Owners of an Abandoned Cemetery

(March 24, 2011) Luther Wallace's grave stone 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 is known about this man who was buried in a small, overgrown cemetery on Rainbarrel Road near Long Cove Marina and Lake Wylie. His is one of only a few grave stones that are still legible, and 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 cemetery.

Ted Driggs and other area residents hope to get permission to clean and fence off this area. Their problem is that they don't know who owns the cemetery and who to ask for permission. According to Mecklenburg County property records, the owner is The Anderson Chapel (Trustees), but there is no address, and apparently no organization called Anderson Chapel within 200 miles of Charlotte.

According 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.  
Consider a time gone by where there was a little church near a river (Catawba) which turned into a lake (Wylie).  See in your mind that 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!
                                  Ted Driggs

A single, leaning grave is visible near the center of the photograph below.

Ramah Cemetery

Driggs and his neighbors need help in locating the owners.

Driggs wants 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 a report by WCNC News, see Neighbors hope to clean historic cemetery.

If you have any knowledge of the possible owners of this property or would like to help, please contact Ted Driggs at Tdriggs@Okuma.com.

To comment on this story please visit the Steele Creek Forum.

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