Historic slave cemetery, long neglected, renewed in Irving

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by SHELLY SLATER

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaashelly

WFAA

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 6:16 PM

Shelton's Bear Creek Cemetery

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IRVING — History was buried by brush, weeds and trash at an Irving cemetery... until Wednesday.

It's cleanup time at Shelton's Bear Creek Cemetery, the final resting place for hundreds of slaves.

Community members are donating their time to honor those who came before them.

Underneath the rubble are names, dates, and — for Tim Green — relatives he wants to honor.

"A lot of them are in the back corner over here," he said.

Shelton's Bear Creek Cemetery declared this site historical in 2000, but for 13 years, Anthony Bond with the Irving NAACP has been working to clean it up.

"This is just a labor of love," he said. "These people were mistreated in life, and I want to make sure they're not mistreated in death."

It's estimated more than 200 slaves are buried here, the earliest around 1895.

"We just believe that anybody's burial place is sacred ground, and we just want to treat it that way," Bond said.

"They can't help themselves, and so it's up to the people that's left behind to try to make sure that they are cared for," Green added.

The debris is being turned into mulch as the graves finally become visible again. Some are clearly marked; others are simply small stones sticking out of the ground.

But as the brush is cleared, Green and Bond said they feel grateful that others have come to help with the same purpose at heart.

"I'm overjoyed!" Bond said. "I've been out here for days myself working, so to have help come... it's like the cavalry has come to rescue me, and I couldn't be more happy."

Bond said he is thrilled that the new owner of the independent living center next door wants to help keep the cemetery clean, even possibly turning it into some kind of memorial.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

 

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