African-American Burial Ground Reveals Larger Communities of Color In Dutchess County

Bill Jeffway, Director of the Dutchess County Historical Society, has recently reported on the results of new research on pre-Civil War African-American communities of color in the town of Milan. His report, first published by the New York State Museum in December, 2018, notes that the research led to the identification of a segregated burial ground.

Two burial grounds in Milan for African-Americans had been known prior to the current research. One location is a half-acre section in the cemetery of the adjacent town of Rhinebeck, set aside in 1853 for the burial of paupers and persons of color. A second location for burial of persons of color was found through oral history and newspaper accounts. It is located at the southeast corner of Yeoman’s cemetery. Recent research has now located a third likely burial place, known locally as “Turkey Hill”.

“To find evidence of the remains of these individuals … is challenging,” writes Mr. Jeffway, “because of the early 19th century practice … of burying persons of color not only separately, but with temporary or no markers.”

You can read the full article on Mr. Jeffway’s LinkedIn at