119 unmarked graves of slaves found during cemetery construction project

Credit: FOX13Memphis.com

Credit: FOX13Memphis.com

A Mississippi cemetery, in the process of updating roads and drainage, discovered 119 unmarked graved of slaves.

Crews working at Red Banks Cemetery stumbled upon the remains during the construction project.

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"I guess I was expecting maybe probably ten or 15… maybe 20 at the most. But as he was going, he kept finding another and another and another," Ralph Farrell, with the Red Banks Cemetery Association, told WHBQ. "Honestly, I just stopped and prayed."

Farrell said the association spent $900 to have the cemetery, which dates to 1848, mapped out with ground radar.

In an unmarked area where they have always had been told slaves were buried, they expected to find a few graves - but not 119. An orange flag now marks the spot of every grave.

The discovery also changes some of the construction plans. Red Banks Cemetery is going to move the entrance because the current one actually has graves beneath it.

The Red Banks Cemetery Association told FOX13 they believe slaves are buried in that space because that is what locals have always said about it.

Farrell told FOX13 wants to know who is buried here. He is looking for relatives or anyone who can tell him.

They are considering calling in the state department of archives and history to help. They are also considering erecting a monument to those that are buried there.

“I prayed for these people, not know who they are and my quest is getting or finding the names, so we can honor these people,” Farrell said.

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