Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carrollton Black Cemetery - Carrollton, Texas

With no competition, this is the creepiest graveyard I've ever visited. Restless last week, I ventured outdoors for some relaxation and writing research, touring a few cemeteries in the area.

This cemetery is a tiny cemetery, sometimes called "Carrollton Community Cemetery", but most popularly known as "Carrollton Black Cemetery". It's about a ten-minute drive from my neighborhood in far north Dallas, Texas, but my GPS managed to get me lost. I ended up in the church/school parking lot nearby and had to ask for directions, which made for some interesting looks from the parents picking up their children from school. Some of the people there didn't even know a small cemetery plot rested right next door.
It's not surprising, considering the cemetery was established in the late 1800s and the last burial took place in 1960. Since then, the Trinity River has wreaked havoc on the little cemetery. So much havoc, that most of the grave markers have been destroyed, which probably accounts for part of the creepy vibe and spirits at unrest. It's not even known how many people are actually buried here.


As I pulled up to the field adjacent to the cemetery, I noted the empty back church parking lot and the construction crew working nearby at another place. The men were so small in the distance; they looked like ants, but were quite entertained by the crazy woman with the camera entering the empty graveyard. They stopped working and all gathered around their truck as I approached the gates. If it had been closer to dusk, I probably wouldn't have felt safe by myself. Across the road from the cemetery on the left, lay the train tracks and on either side of the graveyard are new/old construction sites surrounded by vast, empty fields with no other people in sight.

But being the fearless writer and cemetery tourist I am, I entered the gates. I was immediately overcome with an intense wave of sadness and confusion. The feeling left me nauseous and I had to fight not to turn tail and run back to my car with my camera in hand. I have never felt uneasy while visiting a cemetery; I chalked up my feelings to the tumultuous time period when most of the individuals were buried and the damage Mother Nature has caused.

Those unknown souls are not resting easy for all eternity. My writer's imagination ran wild thinking about the many slaves buried there and their descendants and the pre-Civil Rights era in the south. What horrible injustices had these human beings suffered at the hands of men? What were their stories? Were they ever happy? We will never know.

On Juneteenth, June 19, 2010, a group of volunteers, including a descendant of Ned Welch, whose memorial is one of the last standing, gathered to remember the forgotten. They erected these simple white wooden crosses to mark the graves of the dead, but there are still many unknown buried in this cemetery.

This is Ned Welch's final resting place, one of only two markers left standing in the graveyard.

And this is the only other memorial left.

I dedicate this post to all the brave souls who suffered through one of our nation's darkest ordeals and hope they will rest in peace. May we not forget where we came from as a nation and may we look towards a brighter tomorrow.

Perhaps, I can help their memory live on by including this cemetery setting in a story or two of mine. It would be an honor.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!


Anonymous said...

I was feeling homesick and was poking around on the internet for pictures when I ran across your blog. I attended the church next to this cemetery for 13 years. Its where I met my husband years ago. Six months ago I moved to Western New York near Niagara Falls but my heart is still in Texas at the North Church next to that cemetery. One day many years ago I wandered off to check the cemetery out & wished I had my camera. I made sure to take my time strolling through each row, reading & appreciating everything very carefully. This was long before the white crosses from 2010. I saw several rocks that used to be grave markers. I also saw remnants of plastic American flags hidden under old fallen foliage. I assumed there had been some sort of cerimony many years ago. Probably when the signs/markers were put up. As a writer myself I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your article about this cemetary. It is hidden away and forgotten about by so many and I think that is very sad. I am thankful I've had the privilege to stroll through this place before moving across country. If your ever interested in reading any of my stuff here's a link

Nora Peevy said...

Thank you for the kind comments. I'll try to pop by online for a visit. I am on bedrest recovering from some serious health issues at home, so my blog schedule has bee wonky, but I'm trying to slowly get back into the blog routine. :)

Chad Miller said...

I have worked with the Texas Historical Commission's RIP Guardian program before and I stumbled upon this cemetery today while doing some deliveries in the area. I stumbled across your blog while researching it.