CONROE – It has been over a century since an African American cemetery has been lost in Conroe. Over the past several years, The Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project has been working to clean up, restore and preserve the cemetery.
A sign dedication ceremony was held Saturday, and several people spoke about the significance of the cemetery and what it means to the Conroe community.
Organizers say the cemetery never had a name. It was simply known as the Conroe Cemetery, No-Name Cemetery or the Community Cemetery, among the older African Americans in Conroe.
“Each and every one of them were sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, siblings, neighbors and all of them had an influence on the community,” said Jon Edens, the president of the Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project.
Burials date back to the 1800s and include former slaves. Some of the forgotten leaders include Mittie J. Campbell, the founder and principal of the first African American public school in Conroe. She died in 1933.
James Charles Pitts, Sr. was an early African American educator from Conroe, who opened the first Black school in Jefferson, Texas. He died in 1966.
Jacob F. Cozier was a pastor and teacher at the Union Church in Huntsville, Texas. He died in 1903.
President of the Montgomery County NAACP spoke at the sign dedication ceremony on Saturday.
“God has a way of bringing the right people in the right at the right time to bring life to what was lost and forgotten,” he said.
John Meredith, the treasure for the Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project, says they’ve discovered 38 marked graves and 111 unknown graves so far.
“We’ve run cadaver dogs out here three times that have been known to find burials out here. We’ve run metal detectors and probes out here,” he said.
Trooper Billie Ray Smith is a Buffalo Soldier and wanted to know more about Luther James Dorsey, who was an ex-slave who joined the cavalry in 1873. He is the only known Buffalo Soldier to be buried in Montgomery County.
“We need blessings In America today and I can’t think of a better time to recognize and God to please bless,” Smith said.
Countless volunteers have been working hard in the past year to restore the cemetery.
“It’s pretty amazing because the first week you couldn’t even walk through here and now you can recognize the graves that are there,” Joyce Pierce said.
Volunteers will continue to clean up the cemetery and discover more gravesites.
To learn more about The Conroe Community Cemetery Restoration Project, visit here.