Dozens of graves have been found wedged between two northern Charlotte development areas and some residents wonder if the cemetery is the final resting place of slaves who worked in the areas farmland during the antebellum era.
The grave markers are actually shaped rocks stuck in the ground have no inscriptions and they’re difficult to see among fallen trees.
Lynn Cloutier who lives within view of the woods that hides the cemetery, saw the graves for the first time about five months ago. Although Cloutier believes the graves might be the last resting place of slaves, neighbors believe it might be a church cemetery and experts have been called in the hope that the remains can be dated. State officials either deny or can’t confirm this.
There are unmarked graves scattered across the state and many of them are Native American burial sites, as well as, slave cemeteries. Mecklenburg County has a large slave burial ground with more than 70 graves on what was part of the Alexander Plantation on Mallard Creek Church Road.
The area’s fertile land, ideal for growing cotton, was once home to large plantations. In 1860, about 40 percent of the people living in Mecklenburg County were slaves.
During the 18th and 19th century periwinkle was planted in cemeteries as an alternative to grass. The periwinkle blossoms are among the signs that inspectors look for when checking the land for development. Another clue may be the blanket of periwinkle that covers the graves.
It has been noted on the development plans that there’s a cemetery and it has been protected from the start. Construction crews have marked each grave with an orange flag so that they can avoid them as they expand the subdivision. They have also erected plastic fencing to ensure that the burial site is left in peace.
For now, whoever is buried beneath the spread of periwinkle will remain a mystery but at least they’ll be undisturbed.
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