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posted by Joseph Certaine on May 1st, 2010 at 1:46 PM

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Recently a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden NJ, set out to help clean up a park in their neighborhood. During the cleanup, a shovel struck a hard object just below the surface of the ground. Someone had hit upon a tombstone. To their surprise,  they discovered another and then another. The students had stumbled upon the burial sites of a large number of soldiers and sailors who were veterans of the the Civil War. The grave sites are a part of a  black cemetery that held the remains of people who had been buried at the Johnson Cemetery,  at least one of which dated to the 1700s.

A reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer is currently investigating but intial inquiries indicate that the headstones at the cemetery were removed by the city of Camden in order to create a municipal park. There are pictures that clearly show a number of upright tombstones in what is now called Johnson Cemetery Park. The bodies buried there were never removed.  The removal of the headstones and any markers indicating that the site is a burial place, seems to have been done without community consultation. It is important that more information is made available  about the circumstances involved in this apparent desecration. 

 Please check back for more information about this developing story.  Records indicate that there are at least 123 black soldiers and sailors interred.most of the soldiers were trained at historic Camp William Penn. The camp was the 1st and largest traing center for USCT during the Civil War. It was located just outside of Philadelphia, PA.  It seems as though the removal of the headstones occured during the 1980s. Before making any further comment about this, we'd like to get the facts straight about how and why this happened.  

   

last edited on May 1st, 2010 at 8:47 PM

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