The Upper Allen Freed
The following article is from the Summer 1986 edition of Keystone
Seekers Genealogical Quarterly, pages 45-48. It concerns an
African American cemetery in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland
County, PA, which has recently received some attention in the
Harrisburg Patriot-News. That cemetery has been adopted by
the group Vietnam Veterans of the Mechanicsburg Area, who have
cleared weeds and reset toppled tombstones in the neglected lot.
According to the newspaper article, there are 14 African American Civil War
veterans buried in this cemetery.1
This article is reproduced by permission of the Capital Area Genealogical Society, from whose publication Keystone Seekers Genealogical Quarterly it was taken.
The term "freed slave cemetery" appears to be a misnomer from
traditional lore. Although the cemetery may have been started for freedom
seekers who settled in the area after fleeing bondage in the south, as old
stories state, it is more likely that the cemetery is a burial site for free
African Americans regardless of their heritage.Capital Area Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 4502
Harrisburg, PA 17111-0502
Bob Viguers, President
The Upper Allen Freed Slave Cemetery
by Keith A. and Beth Holmes Nonemaker
The following is a transcription of an unnamed cemetery in
Upper Allen township, Cumberland county, PA. Tradition holds
that it was started expressly for use by slaves who escaped
to the north via the underground railroad. The dates of
burials and the fact that several soldier(s) from
"colored" regiments are buried here tend to support
this belief. Burials range in date from 1862 to 1955. The
cemetery was restored in 1985 by the Upper Allen Historical
Committee. The cemetery is located at 40 degrees 10 minutes
and xx seconds north by 77 degrees xx minutes and xx seconds
west, about 50 yards north of 424 Winding Hill Road, in a
clump of trees, surrounded by corn fields. Numbers on the preceding map correspond to tombstone numbers.2
transcribed 17 November 1985
verified 18 November 1985
||A. J. AARON / 1853 1933
||CLARENCE A. / SON OF / J. T. & E. A. / STANTON
/ 1883-1918 < above two stones surrounded by
"S" cornerstones >
||SAMUEL / HENDERSON / DAVIS / OCT. 21, 1866 / SARAH
GEORGIE / DAVIS / WIFE OF / GEO RILEY / < base of
stone: > DAVIS
||IN MEMORY OF MARIA F. / AND / WILLIAM A. / DAVIS /
GEO FRANKLIN / DAVIS
||IN MEMORY OF / ELLEN M. / AND / CATHARINE W / BRIDGET
||GEO. FRANKLIN / DAVIS / APR. 6, 1863 / SEP. 22, 1921
/ LYDIA M. / HIS WIFE < above stone surrounded by
"D" stones >
||THOMAS T. / BUTLER / 1820-1900 / ADALINE, HIS WIFE /
||NESBITT / CHARLES E. NESBITT / DIED OCT. 31, 1908. /
AGED 72 YRS. / MARY E. NESBITT / DIED APR. 2, 1934 / AGED
||WILLIAM / JONSON / BORN / MAY 15, 1823 / DIED / MAR.
23, 1892 / Resting in hope of a / glorious resurrection
||SARAH / JONSON / BORN / MAY 20, 1820 / DIED / FEB 28,
1899 / Blessed are the dead / that die in the Lord
||NESBITT / GEORGE A. NESBITT. / 1875-1910 / HIS WIFE /
ERMINE B. BROOKS. / 1878-1905 / PAUL B. / 1901-1901
< above five surrounded by "N"
||MARGARET BRISCO / DAVIS-BRIDGET / Oct. 21, 1843. /
Mar. 18, 1921.
||P. B. N.
||ANDREW M. / HOWARD / DIED / AUG. 8, 1898 / AGED 71
YRS / < chipped > MO & 11 DS / AT REST
||C. R. S.
||WM BRIDGET / PRIVATE CO. G. / 22. REGT. VOL.
INF. / DIED SEPT. 16, 1900. / AGED 56 YRS.
||CHARLES E. SLAUGHTER / DIED / JULY 29, 1889 / AE. 36
Y. & 29 D / Rest husband in the silent tomb
||JENNIE DAVIS / SLAUGHTER / GREEN / DIED / OCT. 19,
1921 / AE 63 Y 4 M / & 17 D.
||C. S. < above two surrounded by blank
||ELIZABETH HOWARD, / Died Aug. 27, 1871. / In the 87th
year of / her Age.
||ELIZABETH HOWARD, / DIED / SEP. 9, 1900. / AGED 92
||ABRAHAM HOWARD / BORN / FEB. 17. 1806. / DIED / MAR.
24. 1893 / AGED 87 YRS. 1 MO. / & 7 DS.
||RICHARD HOWARD / PRIVATE CO. G. 45 REG. U.S. COL.
TROOPS. / DIED SEPT. 2. 1895.
||GEORGE N. RILEY, / MAY 16, 1887. / AGED / 32 YRS.
& 9 / MO. / ASLEEP IN JESUS
||MARY A. / WIFE OF / GEORGE W. / RILEY. / DIED / JAN.
15. 1881 / AGED / 27 YRS. 3 MO / & 5 DS.
||JACOB RILEY. / Died May 27, 1870. / Aged 80 yrs. 5
mo. & / 12 days. / I am the resurrection and the
life; he / that believeth in me, though he were / dead,
yet shall he live.-John VI. 25.
||SARAH / WIFE OF / JACOB RILEY. / Died Apr. 17, 1878.
/ Aged 54 yrs. 4 mos. / & 2 ds. / She was a tender
mother here / And in her life the Lord did fear / We
trust our loss will be her gain / And that with Christ
she's gone to reign
||JNO. WILLIAMS / CO. H. / 41ST U. S. C. T.
||MARIA / wife of / FRANK BRISCOE / Died June 9, 1867 /
Aged 52 yrs. 7 mos / & 30 days / < epitaph
||WM A. DAVIS / DIED OCT. 25, 1874, / AE. 10 Y.
9 M. & / 16 D. / At rest.
||JOHN W. DAVIS / DIED OCT. 10, 1881, / AE. 9 Y. 9 M.
& / 25 D. / Rest sweet rest.
||NORA M / 1869- < brass plaque from funeral
home; part is missing and what remains may be jumbled
||ELIZABETH G / NESBITT. / DIED / Jan. 8, 1906. / AGED
72 Years / Gone but not forgotten. / NESBITT /
||HIS WILL BE DONE
||HANNAH, Wife of / Charles NESBITT / Died March 14,
1869 / Aged 58 years
||LET ME GO, FOR THE DAY BREAKETH / HANNAH SMITH /
GRANDMOTHER OF / CHARLES E. NESBIT
||E. S. C.
||F. H. D.
||C. R. D.
||M. A. D.
||M. I. C.
||ENOCH S. COOK / 1820-1869 / CAROLINE COOK / 1822-1905
||JAMES DUFFIN / Died Mar. 24, 1874 / In the 85th year
of / his age. / I have fought a good fight. I have
finished / my course. I have kept the faith.
||< base remains, but stone is missing >
||GEO. ROBERT / 1820-1899 / MARY ANNA / 1830-1905 /
FLORENCE HARRIS / 1873-1903 / DUFFEN
||ELSETTA BROWN / DIED MAR 10, 1907 / AGED 76 YEARS
||HENRY BUTLER / Born Oct. 18, 1799. / Died Jan 3,
||J. W. PINKNEY / CO. D / 22ND U. S. C. T.
||REUBEN W. JACKSON / MAR. 15, 1828 / JULY 22, 1909
||Died April 15, 1862. / Aged 76 years. 4 mos. / And 19
days. < top of this stone, including name, is
||JAMES SPRIGGS / DIED / May 25, 1875 / Aged / 56 yrs.
1 mo. / & 19 ds.
||CHARLES BRANSON / DIED / MAY 22, 1896 / AGED 55 YRS
||SPRIGGS / JAMES W. SPRIGGS / 1867- / MARY E. HIS WIFE
||WILLIAM POPE / PRIVATE CO. B. 22 REGT. / U. S. COL.
INF. VOLS / DIED JULY 1, 1902 / AGED 72 YEARS
||WILLIAM / JONES / AGED 12 DS.
||ELLEN STEPHENS / JONES / 1890-1917
||OUR FATHER / THEODORE J. STEPHENS / BORN APR. 1, 1843
/ DIED MAR 27 1809
||EUPHARES T. STEPHENS / 1886-1955 < damaged
brass marker from S. HARPER MEYERS funeral home; final
"S" in STEPHENS is missing >
||OUR MOTHER / ELIZA / WIFE OF / EZEKIEL BAPTIST / DIED
OCT. 28, 1878 / Aged 64 yrs 5 mos / 28 ds.
||OUR MOTHER / SUSAN E. / Wife of / Samuel S. BAPTIST /
Died May 30, 1880 / Aged 39 yrs. 1 mo. / & 2 ds. /
Past her suffering, past her pain. / Cease to weep for
tears are vain / calm the tumult of your breast / She who
suffered is at rest.
||LEWIS WILLIAMS / 1858-1935 / FLORA C. WIFE /
||CHARLES WATTS / " SNOWBALL " /
1. Turner, Ford. "Area Vets Pay Homage At Forgotten Black Graves,"
The Patriot-News, Saturday, April 25, 1998, pp A1/10.
2. Map accompanying the article. A scan of the actual map is above.
Jane Allen of Camp Hill, who was kind enough to find the above article and mail a copy of it to me, had an additional note about the cemetery. She wrote "I've heard a rumor that at least some of these graves were moved from a
cemetery that was originally located on West St. in Mechanicsburg. It was in
the area where Simpson St and Main St come together."
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Other material is copyrighted by the original authors or organizations. The article "The Upper Allen Freed Slave Cemetery" is used by permission of the Capital Area Genealogical Society.
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This page was updated on March 20, 2005.