Concern over state of freedman cemetery in Joppa

People who closely follow the history of freedman communities are concerned the grounds where people were buried are being forgotten and even paved over.

The City of Dallas calls the historic Joppa community the most preserved of all North Texas areas established by descendants of former slaves.

Shalondria Galimore and Claudia Fowler agree -- except when it comes to sacred ground they say has disappeared.

"I'm fourth of five generations here so we've heard generations before us say that there was a cemetery out here,” said Galimore.

They believe a burial ground was overlooked for new walking paths and a park. They've even inquired about it with state and local officials.

“We tried with the city. We tried with the state. No one actually did, or I can't say if they did in-depth research, but they emailed back and said, hey there's no such cemetery, there are no findings," Galimore said.

Galimore and Fowler fear the same may happen to the Honey Springs Cemetery near Joppa.  Its dotted with weathered, broken headstones and gravesites where time and perhaps neglect have taken a toll.

Historian Donald Payton, who serves on the city's landmark commission, has photos of some buried at honey springs. He says it’s important to note limited record keeping and resources have played a major role in the confusion.

"So you had an era they were coming out of slavery they didn't have money to afford elaborate graves and grave markers,” Payton said.

Payton, like Galimore and Fowler, believe the remaining burial grounds of slave descendants like Oscar Miller, Eva Hines and Henry Miller are becoming extinct because of development.

"It's really hurtful,” Fowler said. “Now we don't know that the bodies are here, now its covered up by cement.”

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