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The Upper Allen Freed Slave Cemetery

The following article is from the Summer 1986 edition of Keystone Seekers Genealogical Quarterly, pages 45-48. It concerns an African American cemetery in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County, PA, which has recently received some attention in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. That cemetery has been adopted by the group Vietnam Veterans of the Mechanicsburg Area, who have cleared weeds and reset toppled tombstones in the neglected lot. According to the newspaper article, there are 14 African American Civil War veterans buried in this cemetery.1

This article is reproduced by permission of the Capital Area Genealogical Society, from whose publication Keystone Seekers Genealogical Quarterly it was taken.  The term "freed slave cemetery" appears to be a misnomer from traditional lore.  Although the cemetery may have been started for freedom seekers who settled in the area after fleeing bondage in the south, as old stories state, it is more likely that the cemetery is a burial site for free African Americans regardless of their heritage.

Capital Area Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 4502
Harrisburg, PA 17111-0502
717-545-2622
Bob Viguers, President

The Upper Allen Freed Slave Cemetery

by Keith A. and Beth Holmes Nonemaker

The following is a transcription of an unnamed cemetery in Upper Allen township, Cumberland county, PA. Tradition holds that it was started expressly for use by slaves who escaped to the north via the underground railroad. The dates of burials and the fact that several soldier(s) from "colored" regiments are buried here tend to support this belief. Burials range in date from 1862 to 1955. The cemetery was restored in 1985 by the Upper Allen Historical Committee. The cemetery is located at 40 degrees 10 minutes and xx seconds north by 77 degrees xx minutes and xx seconds west, about 50 yards north of 424 Winding Hill Road, in a clump of trees, surrounded by corn fields. Numbers on the preceding map correspond to tombstone numbers.2

transcribed 17 November 1985
verified 18 November 1985

1 A. J. AARON / 1853 1933
2 STANTON
3 CLARENCE A. / SON OF / J. T. & E. A. / STANTON / 1883-1918 < above two stones surrounded by "S" cornerstones >
4(W) SAMUEL / HENDERSON / DAVIS / OCT. 21, 1866 / SARAH GEORGIE / DAVIS / WIFE OF / GEO RILEY / < base of stone: > DAVIS
4 (S) IN MEMORY OF MARIA F. / AND / WILLIAM A. / DAVIS / GEO FRANKLIN / DAVIS
4 (E) IN MEMORY OF / ELLEN M. / AND / CATHARINE W / BRIDGET
4 (N) GEO. FRANKLIN / DAVIS / APR. 6, 1863 / SEP. 22, 1921 / LYDIA M. / HIS WIFE < above stone surrounded by "D" stones >
5 THOMAS T. / BUTLER / 1820-1900 / ADALINE, HIS WIFE / 1833-1914
6 NESBITT / CHARLES E. NESBITT / DIED OCT. 31, 1908. / AGED 72 YRS. / MARY E. NESBITT / DIED APR. 2, 1934 / AGED 92 YRS.
7 (W) WILLIAM / JONSON / BORN / MAY 15, 1823 / DIED / MAR. 23, 1892 / Resting in hope of a / glorious resurrection
7 (E) SARAH / JONSON / BORN / MAY 20, 1820 / DIED / FEB 28, 1899 / Blessed are the dead / that die in the Lord
8 S. J.
9 W. J.
10 NESBITT / GEORGE A. NESBITT. / 1875-1910 / HIS WIFE / ERMINE B. BROOKS. / 1878-1905 / PAUL B. / 1901-1901 < above five surrounded by "N" cornerstones >
11 MARGARET BRISCO / DAVIS-BRIDGET / Oct. 21, 1843. / Mar. 18, 1921.
12 P. B. N.
13 ANDREW M. / HOWARD / DIED / AUG. 8, 1898 / AGED 71 YRS / < chipped > MO & 11 DS / AT REST
14 C. R. S.
15 WM BRIDGET / PRIVATE CO. G. / 22. REGT. VOL. INF. / DIED SEPT. 16, 1900. / AGED 56 YRS.
16 (W) CHARLES E. SLAUGHTER / DIED / JULY 29, 1889 / AE. 36 Y. & 29 D / Rest husband in the silent tomb
16 (E) JENNIE DAVIS / SLAUGHTER / GREEN / DIED / OCT. 19, 1921 / AE 63 Y 4 M / & 17 D.
17 C. S. < above two surrounded by blank cornerstones >
18 ELIZABETH HOWARD, / Died Aug. 27, 1871. / In the 87th year of / her Age.
19 ELIZABETH HOWARD, / DIED / SEP. 9, 1900. / AGED 92 YRS.
20 ABRAHAM HOWARD / BORN / FEB. 17. 1806. / DIED / MAR. 24. 1893 / AGED 87 YRS. 1 MO. / & 7 DS.
21 RICHARD HOWARD / PRIVATE CO. G. 45 REG. U.S. COL. TROOPS. / DIED SEPT. 2. 1895.
22 (W) GEORGE N. RILEY, / MAY 16, 1887. / AGED / 32 YRS. & 9 / MO. / ASLEEP IN JESUS
22 (E) MARY A. / WIFE OF / GEORGE W. / RILEY. / DIED / JAN. 15. 1881 / AGED / 27 YRS. 3 MO / & 5 DS.
23 blank
24 JACOB RILEY. / Died May 27, 1870. / Aged 80 yrs. 5 mo. & / 12 days. / I am the resurrection and the life; he / that believeth in me, though he were / dead, yet shall he live.-John VI. 25.
25 SARAH / WIFE OF / JACOB RILEY. / Died Apr. 17, 1878. / Aged 54 yrs. 4 mos. / & 2 ds. / She was a tender mother here / And in her life the Lord did fear / We trust our loss will be her gain / And that with Christ she's gone to reign
26 S. R.
27 JNO. WILLIAMS / CO. H. / 41ST U. S. C. T.
28 MARIA / wife of / FRANK BRISCOE / Died June 9, 1867 / Aged 52 yrs. 7 mos / & 30 days / < epitaph illegible >
29 WM A. DAVIS / DIED OCT. 25, 1874, / AE. 10 Y. 9 M. & / 16 D. / At rest.
30 JOHN W. DAVIS / DIED OCT. 10, 1881, / AE. 9 Y. 9 M. & / 25 D. / Rest sweet rest.
31 NORA M / 1869- < brass plaque from funeral home; part is missing and what remains may be jumbled >
32 blank
33 blank
34 E. H.
35 J. D.
36 W. D.
37 (W) ELIZABETH G / NESBITT. / DIED / Jan. 8, 1906. / AGED 72 Years / Gone but not forgotten. / NESBITT /
37 (E) HIS WILL BE DONE
38 HANNAH, Wife of / Charles NESBITT / Died March 14, 1869 / Aged 58 years
39 LET ME GO, FOR THE DAY BREAKETH / HANNAH SMITH / GRANDMOTHER OF / CHARLES E. NESBIT
40 blank
41 blank
42 H. N.
43 blank
44 blank
45 blank
46 C. C.
47 E. S. C.
48 F. H. D.
49 J. D.
50 C. R. D.
51 M. A. D.
52 blank
53 blank
54 M. I. C.
55 ENOCH S. COOK / 1820-1869 / CAROLINE COOK / 1822-1905
56 JAMES DUFFIN / Died Mar. 24, 1874 / In the 85th year of / his age. / I have fought a good fight. I have finished / my course. I have kept the faith.
57 < base remains, but stone is missing >
58 GEO. ROBERT / 1820-1899 / MARY ANNA / 1830-1905 / FLORENCE HARRIS / 1873-1903 / DUFFEN
59 ELSETTA BROWN / DIED MAR 10, 1907 / AGED 76 YEARS
60 HENRY BUTLER / Born Oct. 18, 1799. / Died Jan 3, 1864.
61 J. W. PINKNEY / CO. D / 22ND U. S. C. T.
62 blank
63 REUBEN W. JACKSON / MAR. 15, 1828 / JULY 22, 1909
64 Died April 15, 1862. / Aged 76 years. 4 mos. / And 19 days. < top of this stone, including name, is missing >
65 J. S.
66 JAMES SPRIGGS / DIED / May 25, 1875 / Aged / 56 yrs. 1 mo. / & 19 ds.
67 CHARLES BRANSON / DIED / MAY 22, 1896 / AGED 55 YRS
68 SPRIGGS / JAMES W. SPRIGGS / 1867- / MARY E. HIS WIFE / 1858-1923
69 WILLIAM POPE / PRIVATE CO. B. 22 REGT. / U. S. COL. INF. VOLS / DIED JULY 1, 1902 / AGED 72 YEARS
70 W. P.
71 SON
72 WILLIAM / JONES / AGED 12 DS.
73 ELLEN STEPHENS / JONES / 1890-1917
74 OUR FATHER / THEODORE J. STEPHENS / BORN APR. 1, 1843 / DIED MAR 27 1809
75 EUPHARES T. STEPHENS / 1886-1955 < damaged brass marker from S. HARPER MEYERS funeral home; final "S" in STEPHENS is missing >
76 E. B.
77 OUR MOTHER / ELIZA / WIFE OF / EZEKIEL BAPTIST / DIED OCT. 28, 1878 / Aged 64 yrs 5 mos / 28 ds.
78 OUR MOTHER / SUSAN E. / Wife of / Samuel S. BAPTIST / Died May 30, 1880 / Aged 39 yrs. 1 mo. / & 2 ds. / Past her suffering, past her pain. / Cease to weep for tears are vain / calm the tumult of your breast / She who suffered is at rest.
79 COMAGER
80 LEWIS WILLIAMS / 1858-1935 / FLORA C. WIFE / 1868-1938
81 CHARLES WATTS / " SNOWBALL " / 1870-1942

Map Accompanying the Article

Typeset map of the Upper Allen Freed Slave Cemetery

Notes

1. Turner, Ford. "Area Vets Pay Homage At Forgotten Black Graves," The Patriot-News, Saturday, April 25, 1998, pp A1/10.
2. Map accompanying the article. A scan of the actual map is above.

Jane Allen of Camp Hill, who was kind enough to find the above article and mail a copy of it to me, had an additional note about the cemetery. She wrote "I've heard a rumor that at least some of these graves were moved from a cemetery that was originally located on West St. in Mechanicsburg. It was in the area where Simpson St and Main St come together."

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