The African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery was Unveiled on Friday.

This project was part of the Decatur County Bicentennial and was executed by Mary Lou Davis. However, this project couldn’t have been done without the help of many participants including: Jesse Cameron of Cameron’s Tree Service, Annette Geis of Vinyl Solutions, Mike Quinlan and Quinlan Enterprises, Zach Hess of Twisted Metal Designs, Top Hardware, Walmart, the labor of Isaiah Evans, Jacob Coons, Jame Kirby, James Evans, and Logan Gurley, Judy Combs Miller who owns the property, the Decatur County Commissioners for their donation that funded the project, and John Pratt. These men and women donated their time and effort as well as reduced costs in order to keep this project alive and see it through to its end.

The African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery is located within Fugit Township on the old Snellings Settlement. This settlement was a black settlement in Decatur County that was part of the Underground Railroad system. It would take fugitive slave 2 nights of travel to reach the settlement, where they would then hide near the location of the cemetery. There are 7 official grave sites within the cemetery borders, however they believe there are many unmarked graves within the area. Only 2 of the 7 graves have headstones and only Henry Speed’s headstone is still legible. Henry Speed’s mother, Jane Speed, was involved in the Donnell v State case of 1852. Luther Donnell was convicted of helping fugitive slaves get to Canada, however during Donnell v state his conviction was reversed, claiming that under U.S. Supreme Court decision in Prigg v. Pennsylvania federal law superseded a state law regarding aid to fugitive slaves.

Headstone of Henry Speed and unknown
7 known gravesites made of river stone

In order to preserve this part of Decatur County history, Mary Lou Davis saw to it that brush was cleared from the river stone graves, a stone path was made leading up to the cemetery, a metal fence was added around the cemetery, damaged and dead trees were removed, and signage as well as a cross were added. Once again, she thanks everyone listed above who donated in some way, as without them this project could have never been completed to this extent.

Morgan Schofield


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