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WMAR 2 News Baltimore

Maryland hopes to rebury remains of people of African descent

By Bryna Zumer,

9 days ago

The remains of 15 people - most of African descent, and buried in the 18th or 19th centuries - have been found over the years throughout Maryland. They include the bodies of a baby and a child, along with men and women.

Now the State of Maryland is hoping to honor these unknown individuals by tracking down their possible descendants, and ultimately re-burying the remains in a dignified way.

It's part of a new project called " Engaging with Descendant African American Communities ," launched by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust.

It will involve using genealogical records, land record research, and potentially DNA testing "to identify a path forward for returning these remains to the earth in a manner consistent with the State of Maryland Regulations for the Transfer of Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects."

The remains, which are currently at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory and aren't accessible to the public, were found accidentally throughout the 1960s through the 1990s.

In 1974, four people - 2 women, a teenage boy and a baby - were found during a construction project at Deep Creek Cemetery in Anne Arundel County. In Twin Oaks, Wicomico County, partial remains of a young man and a woman, both believed to have been interred in the 19th century, were unearthed during bulldozing activities. And remains of 3 people were found during a 1966-1973 archaeological investigation of a Colonial house site at Bennett's Point in Queen Anne's County.

Those are just some of the circumstances where these remains were found.

But current policy "discourages the excavation of human remains and strongly encourages preservation in place," according to a press release from Gov. Wes Moore's administration.

Moore said in a statement:

In order for us to be able to move forward, we must both remember and value our past. I encourage anyone that has information about these African American communities to speak up, get involved, and ensure our descendants are treated ethically and responsibly.

Chanel Compton, Executive Director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum and MCAAHC, said: "Because of technology and collaboration, we have the opportunity to share the untold stories of Black lives in our state that will build a deeper understanding of Maryland's history."

Anyone with information about African American communities in the areas of Deep Creek in Anne Arundel County, the Gott Cemetery in Calvert County, Chapel Point in Charles County, Bennetts Point in Queen Anne’s County, and Twin Oaks in Wicomico County - or anyone who's interested in being updated on project activities - should complete this form .

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