XTO Energy to donate Anmoore cemetery property

Published: Aug. 3, 2017 at 6:28 PM EDT
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A representative from XTO Energy Inc., an oil and gas company, tells 5 News the company plans to donate land that used to be called Fraternal Memorial Park, an all-black cemetery in Anmoore.

This comes a month after 5 News originally reported that crews working on the land came across dozens of unmarked graves.

The representative notes that when the company acquired the land in 2008, there was no knowledge that it was gravesite. Now, the company plans to donate the cemetery property to a local historical organization.

"It's wrong to neglect and forget the dead and their history, and these little monuments to them," said David Houchin, special collections librarian at Clarksburg-Harrison Library, as he stood on the site Thursday.

A month after we first spoke to Houchin, crews were busy at work, getting ready to set up a fence to protect the area.

Houchin has also been busy, combing through death records. His research shows that between the late 1920's and 1950's. about 150 people were buried in Fraternal Memorial Park.

Houchin suggests about 90 percent of them, most likely industrial migrants, now rest in unmarked graves.

"A lot of those people were from the deep south and were born in slavery days or shortly after and came here to work as laborers in the mines and elsewhere," Houchin explained. "And they didn't have a lot of family connections locally, except for the ones that they forged when they came here."

Houchin adds that those who died may not have been able to afford gravestones, and temporary markers may have eroded over time.

There are still many questions Houchin is looking to answer, including the names of the trustees tasked with maintaining the property.

But the research will continue, because as he puts it: "it's worth doing."

You can find our original report from July in the 'Related Items' section.