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Development of
Harrisburg's
Free African American Community
 

Midland Cemetery: 
A Recovered African American
Cemetery in
Swatara Township

Headstone of Charles Henderson, USCT

Midland Cemetery was recently rescued from neglect by local historian Barbara B. Barksdale, who began the Friends of Midland organizationThat organization is the best source of information on the cemetery.  They can be contacted at the following address: Friends of Midland, P. O. Box 7442, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-0442. 
View their home page
by clicking here. E-mail:  Friends of Midland 
Photos of the Tenth Anniversary Parade:  Steelton Borough Website

Located on a hill in a quiet corner of Swatara Township, Midland Cemetery holds the earthly remains of hundreds of African American citizens from Steelton, Pennsylvania, nearby rural areas, and the surrounding communities of Oberlin, Enhaut and Bressler. It is one of two African American cemeteries located in Swatara Township; the other cemetery, William Howard Day, is located a short distance away.  Of the two, Midland is the oldest, with burials dating back to the eighteenth century.  Until becoming known as Midland, it was referred to variously as "the Colored Cemetery," "the Colored cemetery near Oberlin," "the Mohn Street Cemetery," and "Highland Hill Cemetery."  All of these terms appear on older documents about Midland Cemetery.  On older maps, it has been shown within the boundaries of both "Oberlin Gardens" and Enhaut. 

Midland spreads over three and one-half acres, on land that was once a respectful distance from residences.  Homes now border two sides of the cemetery, although it wasn't until recently that The grave of Eulie Waid (1895-1951) on the edge of the clearing.residents of this suburban neighborhood were aware of the extent of the burials across the street from their back yards.  Heavy brush and weeds, from more than thirty years of neglect, had obscured all but a handful of grave markers and tombstones from view.  Only the most prominent gravestones along the southern and western  boundaries of the cemetery gave any hint of the history that was beneath the tangle of brambles, sumac and woody undergrowth that covered the hill behind them.

Once fully obscured, the grave of World War I veteran Eulie Waid is now clear of major brush and is regularly decorated with an American flag.  Waid, who lived January 25, 1895 to November 30, 1951, served as a private with the 810th Pioneer Infantry.

Midland cemetery was rescued from the rampant underbrush by Barbara B. Barksdale, who is now president of the Friends of Midland organization.  The organization recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Midland Memorial, dedicated 1999.Midland Memorial, left (click for a larger image).
The plaque reads:  "The resting place of African Americans from the villages of Oberlin, Enhaut, Bressler (Swatara Township), Steelton and surrounding areas.  They were the leaders of the Black community churches and civic organizations who came out of slavery to freedom.  Here rest the veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, II and the Korean War.
"The rich histories of many untold stories are preserved through the restoration and preservation efforts of the 'Friends of Midland' and the cooperation of Swatara Township, Dauphin County Commissioners and the Dauphin County Prison.
"Barbara Barksdale, Founder (FoM), President
"Sharon Harris, Vice President
"Zane Phoenix Sr., Secretary
"Lonnie Dodd, Treasurer
"Etta Payne, Assistant Treasurer
"Clayton Carelock, Research Coord. (click
here for Mr. Carelock's story)
"Anita Hanna Matthews
"Lucille Phoenix
"Calvin Johnson
"Recognized as a historical site by the Swatara Township Commissioners on February 3, 1999."

Sgn installed by Swatara Township pointing to Historic Midland Cemetery.In Boyd's 1919 Directory of Harrisburg and Steelton, Midland Cemetery is listed with the office of its trustees, S.F. and A.W. Dunkle, at 126 N. Front Street.  That address was the business of Dunkle and Knoderer Undertaking Company, of which, Amos W. Dunkle was the secretary and treasurer.  Samuel F. Dunkle had been in the real estate business with his brother Amos and father Josiah in the 1890's, at J.A. Dunkle and Sons & Company, 192 N. Front Street.  Samuel was a Justice of the Peace, and no doubt handled the legal matters both for his family's real estate business and later, as trustee, for Midland cemetery.

Another Dunkle, Abraham, ran a furniture and carpet store at 120-126  N. Front Street in the early 1890's.  By 1897 Josiah Dunkle had died and his son Samuel had established Dunkle & Company, furniture and carpets, at 124 N. Front Street, managed by Abraham Dunkle.  A clerk at the store, D. Frank Knoderer, came from a family of carpenters.  During the next two decades, the two families combined their trades and business interests to establish Dunkle and Knoderer Undertaking Company at the location of the old furniture store.

The new Historic Midland Cemetery sign that replaced our original sign.  Click for larger image.

 

GPS coordinates for Midland:
N40 degrees  14.247'
W76 degrees 49.600'

Friends of Midland Page

Education

African American Genealogy

Midland Cemetery Galleries

Introduction
Civil War Burials at Midland
World War Burials at Midland
African American Burial Traditions
Gallery of Home Crafted Tombstones 
Gallery of Plot Boundary Markers
Artifacts of a Historic Cemetery

Burials at Midland

All Names, A-Z
Tombstone Transcriptions
Additional Names, List B
Additional Names, List C
Additional Names, List D
Names of Lot Holders
First Baptist Members
Map of Midland Cemetery
Midland lot books 1894-1916

Burial of Impoverished CW Vets
Burial of a Spanish American War Vet

Hygienic School Galleries

The Hygienic School Story
Roll of Colored Graduates
Teachers at the Hygienic School
Martha Brown-Cobbs

Documents and Forms

April 2011 Newsletter MS Word or PDF
2011 Letter from Barbara Barksdale MS Word or PDF
2011 Program Ad Order Form MS Word or PDF
Membership Form (printer-friendly)
2006 Memorial Event Program*
2005 Memorial Event Program**
April 2007 Newsletter **
April 2005 Newsletter*
March 2004 Newsletter*
Letter from Barbara Barksdale, 03/11/03
Letter from Barbara Barksdale, 04/24/03
Printable Event Announcement *
Official Event Press Release *

Adobe PDF file format
** Microsoft Word file format

Special Series
People of Midland

Local History and more

Andrew Askins Post 479 Veterans
Autobiography of Jacob Franklin
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts--photos
Rap Dixon Memorial dedicated
Rap Dixon event photographs
Rap Dixon Memorial Program, 8 June 2007
Steelton Death Certificates, 1892-1893
 
Memorial Days Past: A Remarkable Gathering
"Let Us Remember," by SFC Wedlock
Midland Cemetery Photo Page
1920 Census of African Americans in Steelton
Lincoln Cemetery, Harrisburg, Transcriptions

The 6th USCT Meets the Rebels
USCT Rallies in Support of Friends of Midland
Rochambeau's March to Yorktown
Orrick Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia

Community

Friends' Journal
Notes from Family and Friends
Erb Eagle Scout Project
Midland 2006 Wrap-up
Midland Families Pages
Midland Spring 2005 Diary
Midland Summer 2005 Diary 
Midland Fall 2005 Diary

Midland Winter 05-06 Diary
Midland Summer 06 Diary
Success Stories
Activities and Events
Driving Directions to Midland
About the Placing of Markers
Cemetery Lady Visits Rotary
Hurricane Clean Up, August 2004
Midland Cemetery Links Page

Offer of Lookups in Virginia Records

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