Archaeological Survey Yields African American Cemetery Under Florida Parking Lot

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This 3-D scan reveals the locations of unmarked graves that once belonged to Zion Cemetery, an African American cemetery founded in Tampa in 1901 and rediscovered last year. Now, researchers have re-discovered another forgotten African American cemetery in nearby Clearwater, Florida. (Courtesy of the University of South Florida)

Lost African American Cemetery Found Under Florida Parking Lot

by Nora McGreevy/Smithsonianmag.com

Residents of Clearwater Heights, a historically black neighborhood in Clearwater, Florida, have long shared rumors of unmarked graves left behind when an all-black cemetery was moved to another town in the 1950s.

Now, an archaeological survey has confirmed this speculation, reports Paul Guzzo for the Tampa Bay Times. According to records obtained by the Times, researchers recently used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to analyze a patch of land in the Tampa Bay community. Though a paved parking lot covers most of the site, a business complex owned by staffing firm FrankCrum occupies a small portion of the land.

Archaeologists discovered 70 possible graves just below the surface of the lot, says Jeff Moates of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. The team only surveyed a fifth of the 2.5-acre cemetery plot, raising the possibility that more graves may be hidden at the site.

The St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church established the cemetery in 1909. When the church sold the land in 1955, most of the bodies buried in the graveyard were moved to another African American cemetery in nearby Dunedin. But some of the graves were unmarked, and they appear to have been left behind during the move.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

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