A cemetery in Deerfield Beach City, Florida, that was once designated as a ‘blacks only’ cemetery may soon become prime space for a townhouse development. But family members of those who were buried there are concerned about one thing. Where are the bodies?
No one knows where or when the bodies were moved on the 3-acre plot of land.
Pompano Beach resident Benjamin Miller had family and family friends buried there. Even though he now lives elsewhere, Miller, 83, was born and raised in Deerfield Beach and saw at least three funerals there when he was a child.
“I saw it with my own eyes, I am a living eyewitness,” he said. If bodies were moved, “they didn’t notify me, and they didn’t notify my mother and they didn’t notify my daddy. They were living, they were next of kin. Where did they put the bodies?”
The cemetery was once referred to as the “old colored cemetery” and some estimates have 300 to 400 bodies buried there. The first plans to build on the site came in 1974, but angry residents quashed the move. According to one city study, the leader of the protest movement said his wife was buried there. In 1974, he exhumed her body and had it reburied elsewhere.
Dating back to the 19th century, two studies showed the cemetery was being used from 1910 to 1942; the other sets earlier dates, from 1897 to 1937.
Mayor Jean Robb thinks the bodies may have been moved to the city-owned Pineview Cemetery, but oddly enough no one can supply a move date or reason. Anthropologists have also done tests on the land of the soon-to-be townhome area and stated that there are no bodies buried there.
Family members estimate that there could be anywhere from 300-400 bodies missing.
Deerfield Beach native Velemina Williams, 80, said her grandmother is buried there.
“I feel like if they start digging, they are going to dig up something,” she said. “I think it’s wrong, it’s all about money. They don’t care who they hurt.”
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