Discover the history of unmarked slave graves at the UAH

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – In honor of Black History Month, we’re taking a closer look at the history of the University of Alabama at Huntsville and the unmarked slave graves believed to lie somewhere on the campus.

The University of Alabama campus in Huntsville once housed one of the largest cotton plantations in the south. In 1820, Revolutionary War veteran Lewellen Jones purchased the plantation according to UAH undergraduate history student Emily Therrell.

“Lewellen owned 20 slaves at the time of purchase who moved here with him, then after his death his son Alexander Pickney Jones took over for the next 45 years,” Therrell said.

Therrell said the slave population grew from 20 to 121 at the end of the Civil War, and many lived in houses and worked where the UAH is now.

The Jones Perkins family cemetery is located behind Morton Hall, but there is no historical marker for it. In 2017, between Roberts Hall, the nursing school and the Jones Perkins family cemetery, this is where archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to detect if slave houses were being built on campus .

“They found animal bones, glass bricks, a horseshoe related to the maintenance of the stables, and so they found a lot of things that indicated the house was in that location,” Therrell said. .

But just south of the university, on Ben Graves Drive, archaeologists have detected a possibility of around 60 graves.

“The best we could find were areas with lots of greenery and a lack of structures; however, there are no markers,” Therrell said.

“I feel like these stories need to be told and there shouldn’t be so many gummies. It’s not that UAH is trying to hide it, but they don’t acknowledge it.

To help publicize the plantation and the slave graves, the UAH History Department created a committee to erect historical monuments to commemorate those who worked and lived on earth.

A fund has also been created to help with additional research and donations.

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