Monday, January 07, 2008

Reviewing my events of 2007


I started 2007 with new adventures dealing with preserving the "little known" histories of Onslow County, North Carolina (southeastern part of the state).

The initial project was simply looking for any evidence of a ca.1930 segregated baseball team that once played in Richlands, N.C. It turned out, the Pepsi-Cola Giants, played ball from Virginia to South Carolina and even defeated one of the national minor league segregated teams out of Florida. By 1960, the team changed it's name to the "Richlands' Bees" and played ball until the early 1970s.

I also began researching "forgotten or abandoned" all African American Cemeteries in Onslow County while researching the Pepsi-Cola Giants.

From January to December 2007, six cemeteries were rediscovered, cleaned, and documented. Since I am an independent historian and not associated with any "Not-For-Profit" church, museum, or organization, I conducted these projects at my own physical and financial expense.

The rewards over came time, effort and money, but I hope readers appreciate the time, energy, commitment and costs that go into such projects.

The Brick Mill Cemetery, is the largest of the six all African American cemeteries currently being preserved and documented exclusively by my work. This cemetery has been determined to be the largest community cemetery of it's type in Onslow County.

This cemetery has been noted as having a total number of graves nearly equal to the population of Richlands' (N.C.) present day population. The cemetery dates to ca.1900, if not before.

I foresee 2008 as an even more productive year in preserving our local history. I plan on focusing on conducting "oral histories" of the Elders of the local communites.

Presented below is an image of a Brick Mill Cemetery "possible" grave that I recently located deep into the surrounding woods, beyond the known cemetery boundries.

Pre-1920 and even today, it is not uncommon to mark graves without headstones but instead, use stone, brick, or another form of artifact such as sea shells within an African American Cemetery. By doing so, it carries on an old tradition of buriel rites.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments. I will be willing, for a modest fee, to support my work, visit any cemetery for a preliminary walk through or to discuss an abandoned cemetery that may be in your area.

Best wishes to you and your family for 2008.

Jack Robinson, MA
GySgt., U.S. Marine Corps, Retired
Researcher of local History