Authorities discover possible slave grave site - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Authorities discover possible slave grave site

August 8, 2007

Thomasville--  It's the second oldest church in Thomas county.  Their historic cemetery boasts the graves of civil war soldiers, and dozens of other graves marked by aged headstones.

But at Summer Hill Baptist Church it turns out there may be more than meets the eye.  "We received a report that there was the possibility of some older 1800 grave sites out there," says Sheriff's Investigator Bob Brettel.

The church was in the process of building a basketball court at the site when reports surfaced about the speculated graves. Cadaver dogs were brought in to sniff out the situation. "They've alerted in a positive manner that there could be some graves down there," Brettel says. 

The church immediately halted construction and is even bringing in an archeological agency to assist in the investigation.  Brettel assures, "They're doing everything they can to make sure if there's graves down there, they don't want to disturb them."

Jack Hadley, curator at Thomasville's only black history museum says unfortunately many grave sites of slaves are unmarked.  "They didn't have the proper slabs, concrete slabs to put over graves so they used probably sticks. And over the years, that stuff disappeared," Hadley explains. He says the important thing is what we do, when we find them.

If it is indeed confirmed to be the burial place of former slaves this history-loving community will make sure its forever memorialized.  "The community needs to come together, the community now, and the church need to come together and do some kind of memorial and make sure that the future generation will know that their ancestors are buried there," Hadley says. 

 If graves are discovered, the church will return the site to its original condition.

 Investigators say people have also discovered broken pottery and other keepsakes often associated with slave grave sites in the area.

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