• Andrea Kelleher

    Gosh, this is so heartbreaking.

    • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

      It truly has been a heartbreaking realization for me Andrea. A part of me truly wonders if the bodies were really moved as they say they were. I cannot help the sense of sadness I feel when I visit that cemetery or just drive along Lockwood Drive throughout that community.

  • Mariann Regan

    Maybe I’m repeating my comment, but I think this planning was done in a hurry, and they must not have tried very hard to find family members or people who could keep the records straight for the remains of graves that they moved.

    Couldn’t local genealogical societies help city planners help to move graves, if they must, by researching records and families? It seems there ought to be a protocol here, and people should be given time to identify where their relatives remains are. The genealogical community should be allowed to weigh in!

    Maybe I’m rushing to judgment here, but this seems wrong and careless. What happened to sacred burial ground?

    • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

      No Mariann, you are not rushing to judgment at all. I really hate I have no way of knowing if they tried at all to find the families of those who were buried there or not. What I do know is that my grandparents lived at 1707 Lockwood Drive for many years. Their home was not far from this cemetery (it was actually in walking distance). My grandmother’s parents were buried in that cemetery. Even three of her babies who died at birth were buried in that cemetery. I would like to think that my grandparents were told about this expansion and move of the graves. But I can’t help but wonder if they knew at all since my mother who grew up in that home didn’t know all these details about this cemetery until I shared them with her.

      But we also must consider the times in which this all took place too — prior to the Civil Rights Movement! So when I consider what those in power here wanted most – the expansion of Lockwood Drive — the resting place of former slaves wasn’t worth the worry because the expansion happened. Was it wrong and careless? Oh yes indeed! But that was what life was like here then and in other African American communities throughout the South.

      • Mariann Regan

        You are right. I well remember 1960, and that is how the power structure would have been. It was a long way from the 1963 of MLK or the 1964 of the Civil Rights Act. And even then . . . I wonder if people would be more decent today. I imagine that surely there would. There would be a public outcry . . . ? Wouldn’t there?

        • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

          I would like to think that something like this wouldn’t happen today. But when progress and expansion is what society demands and wants, I just don’t know if a public outcry with regards to burial grounds like this one would be loud enough to stop it completely.

  • Robyn

    Liv,
    Relocations and loss of gravestones is such a sad but common story fro African-Americans. Our history was so disrespected. That happened to a large AA cemetery in Washington, D.C. as well. At least there are still some headstones visible. Idea: perhaps someone could get a state historical marker at the site to at least describe the history. That has been a useful effort in other locations.
    Ironically, I have ancestors at an Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, FL.

    • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

      Robyn, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “Our history was so disrespected.” The destruction of our cemeteries was proof of that!

      I’m glad that you mentioned about getting a historical marker to site the history of this cemetery. I don’t think there is one there, but I do know that this historic cemetery is mentioned on the historical marker that is viewed by visitors to College Park Cemetery. In fact the 3 oldest AA cemeteries in Houston are all listed on that marker (College Park, Evergreen, and Olivewood). A non-profit organization called Project Respect is currently involved in truly saving what’s left of this cemetery.

  • JT

    I’ve done much research for the cemetery (focusing primarily on the death records found at http://www.familysearch.org for the years 1910-1940). I’m happy to say that I’ve added about 2,300 burial records to the 2,200 that were already there bringing the total to 4,550 (as of now). These records can be found at http://www.findagrave.com (under the Evergreen Negro Cemetery listing). You can search by first and or last name. You can even search by the first name “infant” and it brings up of four hundred entries. The good news is that with each burial record found the percentage that someone was buried there increases. Right now there is about a ninety percent chance someone listed was buried there. Yes, it’s tragic what happened in 1960 (just years before Civil Rights legislation), but hopefully with 21st century work, we can honor those that are buried there.

    • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

      JT, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for all you’ve done and continue to do to assist with identifying all of our ancestors who were buried in this cemetery.

      OMG! . . . I’m truly humbled by all the time you’ve given to help us today honor those who are buried there. I know no amount of money can repay you for what you’ve done and continue to do, but I would love to give a donation, if not to you, maybe to an organization you are affiliated with. Please let me know and again, THANK YOU!

      • JT

        Liv, thank you for your response. Of the three primary cemeteries I have worked on in Houston (Olivewood, College Memorial Park, and the Evergreen Negro Cemetery), Olivewood is currently the only one set up for a viable donation. If you wish to make a donation you can find that option at this link: http://www.descendantsofolivewood.org/donate/. Margot Williams and Charles Cook do a great job over there. I have added about 2,000 records to Olivewood bringing the total to about 3,800. I have also added about 4,000 to the College Memorial Park Cemetery bringing the total to about 4,300. Randy Riepe heads up the on the ground efforts at the later cemetery. Of course many of the individuals are interconnected and there is an option to link them if they are family members at findagrave. Of course the creation of the online cemeteries would not have been possible with out the volunteers who indexed the Texas death certificates. I am currently doing some quality control on the Evergreen Negro Cemetery and it should be done later this week. Perhaps one day a DNA database could be created to assist in identifying loved ones at the each cemetery,

        James

        • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

          I WILL! I will make a donation this weekend and again thank you sharing the link here on my blog just in case there are others who happen to see this thread and want to donate as well.

          James, thank you for everything!

          • JT

            Liv, You’re a good woman for making the donation. The Olivewood Cemetery has come a long way. A good example of this is the before and after picture of George Norton: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Norton&GSiman=1&GScid=2136702&GRid=10547074&. The first being taken in 2005, and the later taken in 2013. Other tombstones for individuals have been found such as Connie Mae Joe’s in the College Memorial Park Cemetery. She was discovered the Mr. Reipe’s renovation efforts. Over course these death certificates tell an interesting story. There is a Jim Roberts who is buried in the Evergreen Negro Cemetery along with his great grandson Earl Collins. All four generations are linked at findagrave. There is also a John Whitecloud buried in the same cemetery whose race is listed as Indian on the 1930 census. Upon further research I think he may actually be descended from the slaves held within the Creek nation. Interesting to think that the five civilized tribes in Oklahoma permitted slavery, but they did. Slaves there were allowed to remain as families and were permitted to read and write. Slavery in the Creek Nation was not abolished until 1866. It looks like earlier in the year I was able to transfer Richard Smith’s memorial to you (who I believe is connected to your family). Again thank you for your donation., James

          • http://claimingkin.com Liv Taylor-Harris

            It is truly my pleasure to send a donation to the Descendants of Olivewood Project for I have recently discovered that I also have ancestors buried there as well! One ancestor I have been able to find quite a bit of detail about is Amanda Perry Chappel (1848-1922). But her father, my 3X great-grandfather, Major Perry, born in Richmond, VA abt 1829 came to Texas by way of the slave ship Phoenix that arrived in New Orleans on the 17th of Nov 1847. I believe Major Perry may be buried in Olivewood as well, I just have not been able to locate his death record to prove that!

          • JT

            It is possible that Major Perry is buried in Olivewood (it is the oldest African American Cemetery in Houston). I would recommend contacting the creator of this memorial (I believe to be Nancy McDonald Jordan) and see where she got her information from (tombstone? etc.): http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Perry&GSiman=1&GScid=2136702&GRid=61760271&. Nancy did a lot of the memorials (maybe 1500 or so), before I started.

  • Ann Moser

    What is going on over there now? I see piles of dirt all over the cemetery. Are folks being disinterred/ dug up, or are they graverobbing/ doing archeological strata digs? WTF?!

    I see the project respect sign, but it looks like dug up graves every where. kinda creepy- any explanations for what’s happening at Lockwood Evergreen?

    yep Jim Crow was alive and doing his evil back then. Cut up the community w a freeway and the cemetery is but a part of that mindset. Proper burial and reinterment likely was at the bottom of any lists of concerns for driving the freeway thru there … dead folks dont put up a fuss and live folks had more pressing concerns dealing with Jim Crow on a practical day to day level.