Slave cemetery discovered under Florida country club

by Editorial Team

An archaeological investigation has confirmed that dozens of slaves were buried under Tallahassee, Florida’s semi-private Capital Country Club. There are no plans to exhume the 40 bodies known to be resting under the greens. It’s also thought there are more graves to be discovered on the sprawling property, which became a golf course in 1908.

“It’s a really serious problem,” park service archaeologist Jeffrey Shanks said of the newly discovered burial ground. “It’s not just a Florida problem. It’s really a problem across the Southeast.”

Shanks said the discovery is noteworthy because many slaves were buried in unmarked graves where their existence was lost to history. They were regarded by their masters as property, whose lives and deaths occurred unceremoniously. There are thought to be up to 1,500 unmarked slave and African-American cemeteries spread across the Sunshine State.

It’s unlikely the golf course’s architects knew what laid beneath their links when the nearly 23,000 square-foot course was designed more than a century ago. Though rectangular indentations under the manicured lawn fueled speculation over the years that there were graves under the greens, it took ground-penetrating radar, aided by two cadaver-sniffing dogs, to finally confirm those suspicions earlier this month.

Floridians like Tallahassee NAACP leader Delaitre Hollinger now find themselves wondering how to handle delicate situation like this one. The 26-year-old civil rights leader’s family worked the area’s plantations as slaves when the Houstoun family owned many of the fields around the state capitol prior to Emancipation.

“They deserve much better than this,” Hollinger said.

Among his suggestions are that a memorial be erected on the grounds to remind country club member’s that it was the blood of slaves that allowed the area to prosper. Hollinger would also like to see a redesign of some sort that would keep golfers from trampling on known graves.

The club’s website documents the origins of the club and details its many trappings, including renovations highlighted by “A state-of-the-art security and surveillance system (that) was installed throughout the clubhouse for the peace of mind of our members and their guests.”

It also boasts that the property is “one of the most beautiful and natural settings in the South today.”

READ FROM SOURCE: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-florida-country-club-slave-cemetery-20191226-zb3lymhbc5ge5gjikwm4ts3c6q-story.html

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