The Munree Cemetery Project: Revitalization of a Historic African American Cemetery

6 Comments

Drew, an archaeologist with SEAC, gives volunteers a brief introduction to how GPR works.

Since its creation, the North Central Region office has worked hard to assist local organizations that are working on various preservation projects in the region. The most recent

Volunteers take a moment to pose for a photo for the National Trust for Historic Places' "This Place Matters" campaign.

of which involves a historic African American cemetery located in Tallahassee. The Munree Cemetery, as it is known, was established in the late 1800s or early 1900s. It is associated with the Welaunee and Monreif plantations of Tallahassee. The cemetery contains at least 250 burials, the majority of which are unmarked. Since 2009 a group of concerned citizens have been working with county and city officials to protect and preserve this historic site. The citizens established a non-profit organization, The Munree Cemetery Foundation, Inc. as part of this effort. In early 2012 this group contacted the Southeast Archaeological Center asking if there were any archaeologists that would be interested in assisting them. The Southeast Archaeological Center contacted the North Central FPAN office. Since that time the Southeast Archaeological Center and the North Central FPAN office have partnered with the local citizens to work to ensure the cemetery is properly documented and maintained. This opportunity is being used to create awareness within the community of the importance of historic cemeteries and how to properly maintain and protect them.

Earlier this month a team of archaeologists from FPAN North Central, the Southeast Archaeological Center, the Panhandle Archaeological Society and volunteers from the Munree Cemetery Foundation, Inc. and the community took two days to document the cemetery and conduct some much needed maintenance. The Southeast Archaeological Center

The HRD Dogs take a break after working hard helping us identify unmarked burials.

generously provided GPR equipment to assist with this effort. The citizens had the opportunity to get some hands on experience using the GPR. The group also took this opportunity to learn how to safely and properly clean cemetery monuments using D-2 Biological Solution and learned how to document sites using the Florida Master Site File cemetery form. In addition to using these more common methods

Drew assists as a volunteer pushes the GPR cart across the cemetery in an area the dogs detected potential burials.

of cemetery documentation, a unique opportunity was presented to those involved as well. Human Remain Detection (HRD) dogs were brought in by trained handlers who volunteered their time to assist with locating possible unidentified unmarked burials. This allowed us to narrow down the areas that could benefit most from the use of GPR.  This information will be compared with the results of the GPR survey. The public was invited out to the cemetery while the dogs were conducting their survey and the dog handlers did a wonderful job in educating visitors and answering questions. We will continue to work with the Munree Cemetery Foundation to ensure that this cemetery is properly protected and maintained. WFSU-TV came out to film our progress and document our work and it will be airing on “Dimensions”. We do not have the date or time yet, but will keep our facebook and twitter followers updated with that information when we receive it.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thomas J Skierski
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 03:23:10

    I am glad this project has come to the surface as we know of several cemetaries in Suwannee and Hamilton Counties that have slave grave yards that need to be addressed.

    Reply

    • Barbara Hines
      Aug 17, 2012 @ 14:04:54

      FPAN is very interested in seeing that all historic cemeteries are properly documented and preserved. We do offer a training called Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) that is geared towards providing groups interested in actively working towards this goal the skills and knowledge necessary to do so. You can find information about this, and our other program offerings, on our website at http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/programs.php. If this is something that might interest your group please let me know and I will work on getting a CRPT workshop scheduled in your area.

      Reply

      • Jeremy Carter
        Oct 20, 2012 @ 11:47:20

        I have alot of ancestry in this cemetery that was established by my ancestors in the late 1800s, and most, if not all, of the people buried there have some connection to my family tree.. I will love to know more about the cemetery and possibly know some of the individuals who were buried there, such as my great-great grandfather, Josh Burgess. I saw Nettie (Clack) Thompson, Plummer Barnes, and Benjamin Johnson on the video, but I will love to know more if possible. Thank you. Waiting patiently.

        Reply

        • Barbara Hines
          Oct 22, 2012 @ 15:09:03

          If you are interested in getting involved with the group that has been working to preserve this cemetery, please email me at bhines@uwf.edu and I will put you in touch with the appropriate individual. I am sure they would enjoy hearing from you and helping you reconnect with your family’s past.

          Reply

  2. Melinda Frizzell
    Mar 03, 2013 @ 16:37:11

    I drive by here on my way to church every Sunday. Today, I stopped on my way back home. I love cemeteries and this one got my interest when I saw someone came along to clear the brush and there were tombstones. I was amazed at how many markers I saw that probably indicate someone was buried there. I wish I have been there the day the dogs were brought in. Thanks to all who is helping in restoring this historical landmark.

    Reply

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