Abandoned African American graveyard is sinking - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Abandoned African American graveyard is sinking

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MCDOWELL COUNTY (WVVA) - What once was a place of remembrance now looks more like an overgrown hillside than a graveyard.

A local resident took WVVA through the rough terrain so that we could get a first hand look.

It’s now a graveyard lost in time, slowing being eaten up by the mountainside.  The graves are now divots in the land, literally sinking into the ground.  And some areas have become actual sink holes.

One local resident believes abandoned coal mines to be the cause.  “There's probably hundreds of people buried here,” David Frend said.  “But they're not staying here.  They're going right into the old mines.”

The mostly African American graves date back to the early 1800's and some are our nation’s veterans. 

Concerns are not just about honoring the dead, but if their remains are somehow entering the water supply.

"We're living off runoff,” Frend said.  “So if it's running off the cemetery, what are we living off?  It's pumping it right back into our rivers and right back into our bathrooms and our kitchens."

Now, he's taken it upon himself to clean up the site.

"I've contacted a few of the family members who lived here before,” Frend explained.  “And they tell me that so much death happened here before that they don't want to remember none of it.  They don't even visit the graveyard any more. Well I'm here and I'm visiting it and I'm going to do something."

Frend says he's tried to notify numerous officials, from the county, the state, and even the EPA.  But he claims no one is willing to step up and help.
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