Saturday, October 09, 2010

Asbury African M.E. Churchyard

A recent first time visit to Meislohn-Silvie Funeral Home the other day got me to looking around at the Pathmark plaza and the tangle of streets behind that testament to grubbiness. I started thinking about the tangle of streets behind it (Lexington, etc.) and I trying to picture what it all looked like once. So I turned to the trusty 1917 maps I've been using.
I'll do more digging later but right now the thing that caught my immediate attention was the "African Ch. Cemetery". It was on forest Avenue between Linden (now Eldgridge) Avenue and Livermore Avenue. Now if my increasingly spotty memory serves me right that where Osaka and the new 7-11 are located.
A quick visit to tremendously helpful Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Staten Island site filled me on this lost graveyard. Apparently, while never officially registered with the city as a cemetery, the property was owned by the Second Asbury (Zion) African Methodist Episcopoal (AME) Church and used for burials.
By 1913 there were no standing headstones and by 1980 when developers who'd bought it from the city dug it up they claimed no bodies were found. My cynicism makes me immediately doubt this claim.
So the next time you get a bag of chips or some sushi think about the the bodies of ex-slaves and their relatives probably lying under your feet. Ah, commerce.

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