Tucked between Route 416 and the construction site for the Medline Industries facility lies a historic African American cemetery established in the 18th century for the burial of slaves.
Spectrum News took a walk through the cemetery with Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher and other local officials.
The first known burial here was in 1756. More than 170 known grave sites mark the property. Not much remains of the gravestones of those who were buried here or their identities, but white metal poles mark where each grave was found.
"As a committee we discussed having something different than these pipes - something a little more modern, something a little more reverent that we can use to respect the bodies that are buried here," Maher said.
The committee wants to create walkways throughout the cemetery so visitors can pay their respects. They’re already paving the roadway in front of the cemetery to make it easier for cars to visit. Medline Industries has pledged $100,000 to help revitalize the site.
"We believe if this is done correctly, it could be a regional destination and something that our whole entire region and county could be proud of," Maher said.
Right off Route 416 in the town of Montgomery lies an 18th century African American cemetery once used for the burial of slaves as early as 1756. Now the town has established a committee to revitalize the cemetery for future generations.@SPECNewsHV pic.twitter.com/j4rALAsWea— Olivia Leach (@OliviaLeachNews) August 20, 2020
Bernard Bowen is the first Black elected official in the town of Walden. He's also on the revitalization committee. For him, the site is a missing piece of history.
"It's here. I want to be a part of it; it's history. I may not have liked it," said Bowen. "But I want to help be part of beautifying it and acknowledging it."
Supervisor Maher hopes the site can be used to educate children about slavery and America’s past.
"The goal is to bring this really back to the forefront and use it as an opportunity to educate ourselves, to respect our history, and to really bring our community together in a lot of different ways," Maher said.