MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – There is plenty of history at Mansfield Community Cemetery.
“This was a colored cemetery,” says Pastor Michael Evans with Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield “Slaves who were buried here people from the 1880s -1870s – 1860s.”
It’s been around for more than a century up a windy road. When you drive by you can clearly see how it’s divided.
For decades it was a segregated cemetery. One side was kept up the other covered in brush.
Pastor Evans had no idea how much history had been buried away. “We came across quite a few unmarked graves and some graves that had been marked and lost in the brush,” says Pastor Evans.
Last weekend when church members and Boy Scouts from Troop 1703 were trimming trees and clearing brush they came across almost 50 unmarked graves from years ago.
Some were metal markers bent and rusted and other’s marked by stones. They were hidden away in the brush. Areas that haven’t been cleared are believed to have almost 30 more graves unmarked.
“I have an uncle that is buried further on down John Jackson Sr,” says Bobby Jackson. His grandfather was born in 1895 and buried next to his wife in 1983.
Jackson remembers walking through the brush as a child to visit his grandmother’s grave. Now he’s helping clear that brush away. “This is a part of history,” says Jackson “Because of the color of our skin this was the only place you could be buried in Mansfield.”
As for Pastor Evans he says so much has changed over the cemetery’s history, but almost 140 years later he’s still learning more about its past. “It’s not a good thing when you can drive up and you can tell which side is for one ethnic group,” Pastor Evans says “My hope is that you won’t be able to distinguish between the cemeteries.”
The church is in the process of legally taking ownership of the cemetery. They have raised about $18,000 to build a pavilion and add a brick and iron fence. They are taking donations and always looking for volunteers to help with the clean-up efforts.
If you would like to help, you can contact them at (817) 473-1236 or by going to the church’s website.