North Carolina Man Finds Almost 50 Graves of Enslaved People on His Property

By greatbritton


A North Carolina man bought property where he later discovered the graves of enslaved people. Kenneth Spellman bought two acres of land on Satterwhite Point Road in Henderson, North Carolina according to WTVD. Spellman planned to have space for his grandchildren to play, along with space to grow a garden and raise chickens.

However, the previous owner said a family cemetery was next to the land telling Spellman, “I’d love for you to have the property and preserve our heritage.” Spellman, who owns a construction business bought the additional land and started clearing debris. Then he made a historical discovery.

Spellman told the news station, “He did tell me there was a slave graveyard or slave buried somewhere on the property. He was vague about it. I didn’t think a lot about the graveyard because I’m thinking one or two gravestones that we’ll eventually find or not find. They described it as rocks turned up that were stuck in the ground.”

He added, “We actually found about 40 to 50 stones. It was chilling. It was eight of my guys and myself and there wasn’t a dry eye on the ground when we found that. To know that people came here as kids and died.”

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Nancy Bobbitt, president of the Vance County Historical Society, told WTVD, “Ken called and wanted to know if the historical society would have an interest in coming out and seeing the property. So many old cemeteries like that get bulldozed, but because Ken so faithfully looked and found that cemetery and preserved it, it will last another few generations.”

Using census and property records, Vance County Historical Society maybe able to determine the property owned by the Wortham family, who enslaved people in the 1800s. The property was in the Wortham family for over 100 years. Spellman says  he was told the Wortham family once owned 135 acres of land and grew tobacco. Additionally, an 1893 article stated, “investigators were working a case after the owner George Wortham found a mulatto infant buried in a soapbox in his family cemetery.”

Spellman says he plans to preserve the legacy of the formerly enslaved people on his property.



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