Celebrating Black History

Hidden History: Slave cemetery uncovered in Maryland

CROWNSVILLE, Md. (Nexstar) – African-American History is sometimes hard to come across, because so little is known and written about it. But archeologists can unearth unspoiled records of what happened hundreds of years ago. The Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration recently uncovered a long forgotten slave cemetery in Crownsville, Maryland.

Unmarked field-stones left by slaves on the former Belvoir Plantation indicate an enslaved community’s burial grounds, tucked deep in the woods of the former tobacco plantation. Archeologists have discovered slave quarters, a slave cemetery, and descendants of slaves that once worked and lived on the land.

Sisters Shelly Evans and Wanda Watts share a frustration common to many African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in America. 

“We have no history. We begin and we end here,” said Watts.

But thanks to this recent, accidental discovery, the sisters may have uncovered their hidden family.

Evans and Watts are descendants of slaves who lived, worked and may have died on the land that was the Belvoir Plantation.

Dr. Julie Schablitsky, the Chief Archaeologist with the Maryland Department of Transportation, explained, “When we first came here to Belvoir we were first looking for the Rochambeau encampment which was during the American Revolution.” Instead, they found slave quarters built in the 1780s and lived in until Emancipation in 1864.

The land was a tobacco plantation once owned by relatives of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner.

A former resident of the property tipped Dr. Schablitsky’s team off to what they thought could be a slave cemetery tucked along a ravine, deep in the woods. They found nearly half a dozen pieces of broken marble and stones resembling grave markers thrown around the location.

Dr. Schablitsky brought in cadaver dogs. Once they picked up a human scent they confirmed it was a cemetery.

Dr. Schablitsky says there are no immediate plans for the uncovered slave cemetery. The slave quarters have been fully excavated and the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration plans to add interpretive panels to the site.


Neighbors stunned by shooting in ‘safe,’ ‘quiet’ Eagles Watch subdivision

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) — The Eagles Watch subdivision on the city’s northwest side is home to dozens of families.

“It’s very quiet here,” said Irma Molina, who lives on Eagles Watch Drive.

The winding road is often touted as an oasis of safety, seemingly removed from the city’s crime crisis, according to Jeremy Layly, who lives down the street from Molina.

He walks his dogs through the neighborhood every night without worrying about what he’ll encounter in the dark.

On Thursday night, his walk led him toward flashing police lights and crime scene tape. 

Detectives were collecting evidence from the scene of a shooting in the 5000 block of Eagles Watch Drive, less than a quarter of a mile from Layly’s home.

“I’ve heard gunshots [before] but not in the neighborhood,” he told News 8. “That’s intense.”

Officers arrived around 4 p.m. after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. An unidentified man was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests had been made Thursday night. No suspect information was available.

The shooting appeared to be targeted and did not pose an immediate threat to public safety, police said.

“[Detectives are] working hard to solve these crimes and to prevent crimes,” said Michael Hewitt, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

Molina, whose home was within the police perimeter, ducked under the yellow tape to speak with News 8.

She and her son still feel safe living on Eagles Creek Drive, she said, but she is wary of rising crime in other parts of the city.

“It is very dangerous lately,” Molina said in Spanish. “Many crimes have happened.”

Anybody with information about the shooting is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.