A historic Alberta cemetery is being reclaimed to honour the Black pioneers who are buried there

Decades after a historic Alberta cemetery was reclaimed from the forest, a group of volunteers is preserving both the graves and the stories of the Black pioneers who were buried there.

Headstones will soon be placed to mark the burial plots of 13 men, women and children interred at the Bethel Baptist Cemetery, one of the last remaining traces of the once-thriving Black settlement of Campsie, Alta., about 135 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Campsie was settled in the early 1900s when hundreds of African-Americans, fleeing escalating violence of newly enacted Jim Crow laws, left the United States and settled in the Canadian Prairies.

(In 1997) church members and other community volunteers spent hundreds of hours clearing the site of weeds and willow branches and then searched for the graves of the 13 known graves, marked only with small, faded markers.

Approximately $8,000 was needed for the project when fundraising efforts began last year. A remaining $2,700 of that total is still needed to install the headstones this spring, he said.

SplashJackson ,

Aren't all cemeteries "historic"?

jadero ,

In a sense, yes, especially if they've been in use for a very long time. Normally, when people speak of "historic" cemeteries, they're talking about ones that haven't seen any use for many decades.

I live within about 100 km of a dozen or so rural cemeteries. Easily half haven't been used for 30+ years. Even though the active ones have interments that might be older than the oldest in the unused ones, it's the unused ones, associated with families and communities that no longer exist, that are considered historic.

m0darn ,

An interesting part of this country's history.

The church burned a few years after it was constructed...

Uhh yikes I'm curious about that!

autotldr Bot ,

This is the best summary I could come up with:


Decades after a historic Alberta cemetery was reclaimed from the forest, a group of volunteers is preserving both the graves and the stories of the Black pioneers who were buried there.

Headstones will soon be placed to mark the burial plots of 13 men, women and children interred at the Bethel Baptist Cemetery, one of the last remaining traces of the once-thriving Black settlement of Campsie, Alta., about 135 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

"This community hasn't really been given a whole bunch of recognition," said Beaver, the founder of Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan Historical Society.

They settled primarily in five isolated, rural communities closely connected by kinship and trade: Campsie, Junkins (now Wildwood, Alta.

The Beavers remained in the area for decades but, as the years passed, most of the settler families moved away — and the cemetery they had established was soon swallowed by weeds and brush.

Bill Warwaryick, a member of the Barrhead congregation, said the project began as part of a worldwide day of service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The original article contains 956 words, the summary contains 175 words. Saved 82%. I'm a bot and I'm open source!

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