Milan African American Burial Ground

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AfAm Burials NYC

We are aware of the world attention garnered when an massive African American burial site was rediscovered or recovered in Manhattan. But what about rural areas?

Milan Had Much Larger African American Population Before the Civil War

1820 census records show there were 65 individuals identified as persons of color in Milan (formed 1818). By 1930 there were 6 such individuals, descendants of two founding families.

Detail from the 1820 census follows. Assume one slave was owned unless indicated otherwise, no names are indicated for the enslaved.

Town of Milan slave owners in 1820: Mary Stewart (daughter of early founder Johannes Rowe; James Stewart (husband of Mary Stewart); Jacob Shook (2); Daniel Cookingham; Abraham Teator; Philip Shaver; Henry Stall; John Fulton; William Tells; Henry Stall; John Stall (2); Frederick Piester (2); John Fuller (2); Jacob Best, Jr.

Town of Milan “Free colored persons” Head of Household in 1820: Abraham Storey; Charles Coolidge; David Garrison; James Johnson; Abraham Tompkin; Abraham Feller; Andrew Fraser; Robert Fraser; Jacob Lyle

Outside of home burials, we know of three places that Persons of Color were buried, separately and often without permanenet markers

Dedicatated “cemetery for colored people”

A 1927 obituary refers to Lemeuel Jackson of nearby Red Hook being buried in the  “private cemetery for colored people.” In 1935 this site would become mis-identified with a NYS historical marker ax an Indian burial ground, and resting place of “Chief Crow.”

The Southeast corner of Yeoman’s cemetery

Among the images below, WWII veteran Walter Patrice who served in Europe as a Lieutenant during the war, visits the resting place of his maternal ancestors, satisfying a lifelong pursuit, started with his mother, to locate the unmarked graves of his ancestors, including great-grandparents Henry & Almira Jackson.

Section E of the Rhinebeck Cemetery

Milan’s African American Revolutionary War veteran Andrew Frazier was buried on his farm on Milan’s Willow Glen Rd when he died in 1846. His remains and those of other family members were removed in the early 1920’s by his great-granddaughter, Susan Elizabeth Frazier who bought three large plots that are interesting adjacent to, but technically not in Section E. Among the photos below a 2018 dedication of a memorial headstone to Miss Frazier at what had been her unmarked grave.

A word about home burials

Home burials. African Americans, persons of mixed race or others persons of color were buried on their homes, just as the majority of the population. There are a few instances where homestead burials remain visible today in Milan.


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