Milan Rural African American Burial Ground

A proposal for 2018.

Crow Lyle 2018
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

Census records show that there were larger communities of color, largely African American, and mostly enslaved, before the Civil War.

The 1820 Federal Census (two years after Milan's establishment as a town and seven years prior to the prohibition of slavery in New York) shows the following count of persons of color. 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

If the rural practice, especially before the 1847 rural cemetery act was passed, was to bury the dead on their own homestead, then by definition African American burials would be separate. It is about the time of the passage of this act when Rhinebeck created "Section E" for the "colored" and poor.

There are a few instances where homestead burials remain visible today.

 

Location of African American Burials in Milan

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. In the most visible and understood instance, the Frazier family had their burial plots at their home on what is now Willow Glen Road, but subsequent owners asked for it to be moved. It was removed to a large family plot at Rhinebeck Cemetery, adjacent to Section E, dedicated to the poor and persons of color, frequently without headstones.

Unmarked and outlying sections of "white" cemeteries such as the south east corner of Yeoman's. See photo of descendant Walter Patrice overlooking that section where his Milan early Jackson family members are interred without headstones.

Resting place of Jacob Lyle.