Community honors the unknown buried at Petersburg-Newburg Cemetery

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 7:21 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Kentucky Archaeological Survey thinks there could be as many as 80 unmarked African American graves in the Petersburg-Newburg Cemetery. WHAS11 'S Claudia Coffey has the story of how the community is coming together to give the cemetery, and those who were buried there, the honor they deserve.

"When we first walked back there it just looked like an undulating surface which is typical in wetlands, you can expect that to some extent," Cynthia Cooke with the Bon Air Neighborhood Association said.

Once the brush was removed, it was clear that these were sunken graves. It's part of what was once called the Forest Home Cemetery off Indian Trail,  now known as the Petersburg-Newburg Cemetery.

The cemetery has been in the care of the committee since 1990. In 2013 $15,000 was secured by the Bon Air Neighborhood Association through Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's office to clean the area and make it accessible.

" It has such an amazing history here going back to the 1800's, " Cooke said. 

The cemetery was started by Eliza Tivis, a slave who was freed and later bought the property where the cemetery now sits. While the brush has been cleared,  there is still plenty of work and the community is reaching out to help.

So many people have heard about this effort and want to help. For example a man in southern Indiana is a stone carver and once this project is compete he wants to donate tombstones.

"We are really hoping we get a lot of community support. This is such a worthwhile project," Cooke said.

The Petersburg Newburg Committee is asking people to come forward if they think that their family member was buried there. Call the Petersburg-Newburg cemetery committee at 502-713-1678 .
 

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