An African-American Cemetery in Baltimore was Bulldozed

“Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.” – William Gladstone

Since it was opened in 1852, Laurel Cemetery was supposed to become a place where the luminaries of Baltimore’s black community could be remembered forever. “All who procure burials here are sure of an undisturbed resting place for all time to come,” an 1858 ad promised. However, “forever” ended in the 1960s.

The cemetery was paved over by developers with political connections. Today the former cemetery is the site of a Food Depot, a discount department store, and a Dollar General, among other commercial buildings.

In the 1980s a local genealogist, Alma Moore, dedicated herself to piecing together the cemetery’s history and documenting the names of the people buried there. In the course of her research, Moore became convinced that thousands of people remain buried under the shopping center’s parking lot.

You can read the full story in an article by Sarah Laskow in the Atlas Obscura web site at:

My thanks to newsletter reader Ed Hamilton for telling me about this story.


Sad. This is one reason why sound, accurate Family History is so important. Researching the past in order to tell the story of ancestors who gave so much so we can enjoy our lives today. Their stories must be preserved.


Reblogged this on familytreegirldotcom and commented:
Wow this is so sad! Thank you Dick Eastman for sharing this information. Our cemeteries are precious and protected. This is why what we do as genealogists is so important.


What is even sadder is that this behavior isn’t a thing of the past. Washington D.C. bulldozed Mt. Zion African-American Methodist Cemetery in Georgetown, several years ago, to turn it into a park. All stones were left- piled up in the corner of the cemetery, all but one large obelisk which couldn’t be moved. It still sits in the center of the “park” with picnic tables around it.


Isn’t that just horrible!


In researching my great grandfather, William Marks, I found out that the University of Oregon in La Grand, Oregon sits on top of paved asphalt over a Cemetery. Nobody could give me the details nor a list of names that are buried there.


    Long shot. But have you tried searching The Oregonian newspaper, largest in OR. They may have done a story about the cemetery, or archived obits. Also, Billiongraves has a half dozen William Marks in OR. has a couple hundred obits and newspaper articles for William Marks.


I’m currently working to save the memories of my ancestors that were moved from Harmony Cemetery ( now under a metro station in DC area to a mass grave. 30,000 + according to my research. Included are the remains of some prominent and well known African Americans…. Paul Jennings… house servant and slave of James and Dolly Madison. When Jennings was freed later in DC after earning his freedom, and after Dolly was living just about in poverty after the death of her husband, he gave from his own pocket money and brought her supplies. We say thank you for your service to men and women of the armed services… I’m working in a project to say thank you to my ancestors and other people of color enslaved for theirs. Please follow my blog as I will soon give details there.


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