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Marker sought for black cementery

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By Alix Mattingly

 

A walk down Third Street in La Grange will bring you to a plot of land rich with history.

The La Grange Historic African-American Cemetery is the final resting place for 115 people, according to the cemetery’s plot chart. Notable people dating back to the days of slavery are buried in the land where Third and Fourth Streets meet.

With February being Black History month, the Oldham County Historical Society is applying for a historical marker that will be placed outside the gates of the cemetery next February if approved.

“The contributions of African-Americans are often overlooked in these early years,” Executive Director Nancy Theiss said.

The application for the marker notes that the gravestones serve as a source of insight into daily life. Hand-carved stones and lack of marked graves give clues to the socioeconomic status of persons buried in the La Grange Historic African-American Cemetery, according to the Historical Society’s application.

The land was donated to the Trustees of the Northwestern Colored Cemetery Company by W.H. and Mary M. Duncan in 1889, according to the Oldham County deed book.

However, the oldest gravestone in the cemetery belongs to John B. Rundell and dates back to 1849.

One gravestone gives a partial life story of Petter Parker, a slave who died October 27,1881. The marker reads, “Petter Parker was a slave, whose owner’s name was John Berry, who served his master for 70 years and moved from Orange Co., Va. to Shelby Co., Ky. He lived to be the father of 140 great-grandchildren. He lived in Christ 98 years.”

The Oldham County Historical Society researched Parker’s life and found that he lived in Louisville and became a businessman after the Civil War, Theiss said.

The cemetery is also the final resting place for veterans of several wars, according to the Oldham County Historical Society.

Civil War private Alexander Beaumont was a member of the 116th Regiment of the United States Colored Infantry. Records from the National Parks Service show that the 116th took part in the sieges of Richmond and Petersburg as well as the Appomattox Campaign. Beaumont is listed on the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Another Civil War private, Rufus Holt, also fought for the Union during the Civil war in the 111th Regiment of the United States Colored Infantry, according to records from the National Parks service. Those records also show that the 111th was stationed in Pulaski, Tenn. and Athens, Ala. During action in Athens the Confederates captured most of the regiment. After this event the regiment was sent to guard the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. Holt is also listed on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

World War I soldiers Private First Class Amos R. Parrott, Private Christopher Columbus Parrott, Sergeant Luther Thomas Parrott and Private Owen M. Parrott are all buried in the cemetery as well. According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the four men were brothers. They were four of nine children listed in the 1920 Census in the household of Thos and Nellie Parrott.

The Historical Society and Oldham County Tourism Commission will be adding new markers each year to celebrate the county’s history, Theiss said.

“Since there weren’t any African-American historical markers and African-Americans made up one-third of the population of Oldham County before the Civil War, we thought we should add some markers,” Theiss said.

Email us about this story at amattingly@oldhamera.com.