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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeCommunity GroupsAfrican-American CemeteryOver 100 Potential Unmarked Graves at Rye’s African American Cemetery

Over 100 Potential Unmarked Graves at Rye’s African American Cemetery

(PHOTO: A 1900 Hyde map of project area, with the African American Cemetery, as indicated by the red arrow and text Colored Cem.)
(PHOTO: A 1900 Hyde map of project area, with the African American Cemetery, as indicated by the red arrow and text “Colored Cem.”)

Unmarked graves have been identified at the African American Cemetery in the City of Rye. Working on behalf of the Town of Rye under a grant from the National Park Service (NPS), Heritage Consultants recently presented a draft report of their findings based on research conducted last fall. The cemetery is administered by the Town of Rye, not the City.

Using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and other techniques, a total of 232 potential burials were located in the cemetery. Only 120 of these are associated with burial markers. 

Of the remaining 112, 64 were identified as “probable unmarked burials” and the remaining 48 were identified as “possible unmarked burials” (the difference in the two categorizations is a greater scientific confidence in the former group and less confidence in the later group).

(PHOTO: Locations of all marked, probable unmarked, and potential unmarked burials identified within Survey Area 1 (Grids 1 and 2).)
(PHOTO: Locations of all marked, probable unmarked, and potential unmarked burials identified within Survey Area 1 (Grids 1 and 2).)

“The next step is to create something called a preservation and planning document,” said Town of Rye Administrator Debbie Reisner.  “Which will include a plan for marking graves and understanding where they are and a plan for ongoing maintenance.”

Depending on the cost of the next undertaking, the Town intends to go back to the National Park Service and apply for additional funds for the next step. The Town is in a “learning posture” on the best way forward. 

The cemetery was formally established in 1860 and the earliest recorded gravestones located within the cemetery date back to 1840. According to the historical background in the consultant’s report, there are over 300 documented interments within the one acre cemetery.

Read the executive summary.

Read the full draft report (over 800 pages).

(PHOTO: Cole Peterson and Fiona Jones of Heritage Consultants conducting the ground penetrating radar survey within the African American Cemetery in Rye.)
(PHOTO: Cole Peterson and Fiona Jones of Heritage Consultants conducting the ground penetrating radar survey within the African American Cemetery in Rye.)

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