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In search of lost cemeteries

A number of cemeteries forgotten through the years across the Tampa Bay area came to light during 2019, most of them final resting places for African-Americans. The new attention to old burial grounds springs from a Tampa Bay Times report in June that revealed the first and largest of them – Zion Cemetery in Tampa.

Archaeologists Kelsey Kreiser, Rebecca O'Sullivan, Eric Prendergast and Jeff Moates survey an area of Robles Park Village where they believe graves from Zion Cemetery may be located in Tampa, Monday, June 22, 2020.
Archaeologists start the process of ground truthing on segregation-era cemetery land.
Jun. 22, 2020• History
To catch you up on what’s happened, here are answers to questions about all the burial grounds that have come to light in 2019.
Dec. 31, 2019• Hillsborough
Four lost black cemeteries have been found in the last year. There could be more. What does this say about the Tampa Bay area’s history?
Jun. 5, 2020• News
Archaeologists discovered at least 70 graves that were left behind when a Clearwater cemetery was moved in the 1950s.
Jun. 3, 2020• News
  1. Angela Alderman has on a decade long search for her great uncle's grave in College Hill Cemetery that was located where the Italian Club Cemetery's parking lot is today. Alderman is holding her uncle's death certificate in the parking lot.
  2. Parking lot 1 at Tropicana Field where Oaklawn Cemetery was once located on the corner of 16th street and 5th Ave. S.
  3. A small number of grave markers remain in place at Whispering Souls Cemetery on South Drive in Clearwater. For decades the cemetery, which dates to the 1800s, has sat abandoned as neighborhoods were built up around it. Recently, a judge granted ownership of the cemetery to a nonprofit.
  4. Angela Alderman poses in the Italian Club Cemetery's parking lot, which is the possible site of the erased College Hill Cemetery. She is holding a copy of the death certificate for her great uncle, Frank Martinez, who died in 1917 and was buried in College Hill Cemetery. Pictured rear is the Italian Club Cemetery mausoleum.
  5. Cardno Archaeologist KC Allen uses a trowel as she explores a possible grave shaft at the erased Zion Cemetery in Tampa.
  6. This portrait of Robert Meacham was taken around 1870. Meacham was an enslaved man who was later elected Florida senator.
  7. Cardno Archaeologist KC Allen uses a trowel as she explores a grave shaft at Zion Cemetery in Tampa in June  2020.
  8. Tampa's Black neighborhood known as the Scrub as it looked in the 1930s. The downtown neighborhood was later razed.
  9. This retention pond, next to the the Italian Club cemetery at 2520 E 24th Ave, in Tampa, is where a mass grave was allegedly witnessed in the 1970s when the city was digging there.
  10. A conceptual design of what the Zion Cemetery memorial park could look like.
  11. A plat from 1887 of a Cuban burial section located on land that today is used as a parking lot by the Italian Club Cemetery
  12. Robert Irvin and Yvette Lewis with the the Hillsborough County NAACP, walk across a grassy field believed to once hold burial sections for Cubans and Blacks. Lewis would like the Italian Club, who owns the cemetery, to pay for ground penetrating radar, at the Italian Club Cemetery located in College Hill in Tampa.
  13. A pedestrian is seen at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tampa. The cemetery opened in 1919 and was recently cleaned up by the City of Tampa after the former owner had died and left the grounds in disrepair.
  14. Cardno Archaeologist KC Allen uses a trowel as she explores a grave shaft at Zion Cemetery in Tampa.
  15. Archaeologists with Cardno, Rebecca O’Sullivan, left, and Eric Prendergast, work to sift through sand while working to confirm ground-penetrating radar results which indicated 70 graves from where Clearwater's black St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery were located at the FrankCrum staffing firm property at Missouri Avenue and Pierce Street in Clearwater.
  16. Archaeologists with Cardno, Rebecca O’Sullivan, left, and Eric Prendergast, work to sift through sand on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, while working to confirm ground-penetrating radar results which have indicated 70 “possible graves” from where Clearwater's black St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery was located at the FrankCrum staffing firm property at Missouri Avenue and Pierce Street in Clearwater. The excavation comes after more than a year of research by archaeologists with Cardno, the University of South Florida, the NAACP, and the local community.
  17. MacDill Air Force Base on Tuesday dedicated a historic marker denoting the spot where the erased Port Tampa Cemetery was located.
  18. A proposed rendering of a walkable memorial honoring those buried in the mid-20th century Ridgewood Cemetery for the indigent and unknown.
  19. Erin McKendry, 40, a staff archeologist with Cardno, left, speaks with a Tampa Bay Times reporter as Ryan Harke, 35, an archeologist with Florida Public Archeology Network, right, during the excation of what was once an unnamed Black cemetery. This grave is among those with a casket and a marker.
  20. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion has been cleared to begin practicing with the team on Friday.
  21. The red indicates what archaeologists believe were the boundaries of the North Greenwood Cemetery. The cemetery was moved in 1954 but it appears at least 54 unmarked graves were left behind.
  22. The main entrance to MacDill Air Force Base.
  23. The red square indicates where possible graves from the Port Tampa Cemetery for Blacks were discovered on MacDill Air Force Base.
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