Marker for slave cemetery on Sardis Road
The final resting place for slaves and Native Americans now has a marker at Sardis Presbyterian Church. It had been cared for by the church but now it will be much easier to find for those who want to understand Charlotte's history.
For over 150 years the site was not easy to find. Boy Scout Hoke Thompson changed that for his Eagle Scout project.
"These slaves, they were buried in just wooden caskets," explained Thompson.
He says there were indentations in the ground and stones, but he wanted to do more.
"We did what was called ground penetrating radar which is technology that can scan underneath the ground," Thompson said.
David Blackley is a member of the cemetery committee at Sardis Presbyterian Church. He has taken care of this graveyard.
"This was a project that needed to be done," said Blackley standing in a graveyard that is now surrounded by a wooden fence, and has a path leading to the hallowed ground.
The marker was given by the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, a group dedicated to historic preservation.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of but it's something to learn from," Blackley said about slave cemetery.
"Clarissa, Bill, Charity and her children," Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick read aloud during the festivities.
Kirkpatrick explained while there are no names on the headstones to know for sure, he named those who could have been buried based on research.
Kirkpatrick walked where his ancestors are likely buried.
"This is to me a very spiritual place," said Kirkpatrick.
He says he is not angry but rather inspired by his family's strength. And he appreciates others recognizing their dignity.
"It just validates my belief in humanity. That people do grow, people do learn, people do change and people are basically good," Kirkpatrick said.
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick reconnected with a Myers Park high school classmate, De Kirkpatrick as they were both studying their ancestry and learned De's ancestors enslaved Jimmie Lee's ancestors. Together they researched and found more information about the Kirkpatricks.
"Generations in the future will always notice that this here is a cemetery with slaves in it that have built this city and they do need to be respected," Thompson said.