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Unearthing history at a Treasure Coast cemetery

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 18:17:42-05

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — For years, a piece of African-American history on the Treasure Coast sat neglected.

Now, a group of community activists has cleaned it up to see what else can be unearthed, and whether more families can be connected.

As Lloyd Jones walks through the Gomez Pioneer Cemetery, he reflects on the history of his community.

“They have to know these are some of the first settlers in Hobe Sound. I also feel the emotion of this place being abandoned, neglected for over 50 years," said Jones on Monday.

Jones’ father, a Korean War vet, is buried here. He died when Lloyd was just three.

“This cemetery gave me the ability to look back and look into his life and see what he actually did.”

This is where members of the Allen Temple AME Church were buried in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The church burned down in the 1980s and the cemetery fell into disrepair.

But that’s changing thanks to Project MOSES, friends of the cemetery making a difference.

After a thorough site clearing a few years back, the next chapter involves using underground radar.

“It sends a radar signal down to the ground and if it hits any type of hard object, it sends a signal back," said Chad Stewart with Bowman Consulting.

“Since there’s so many unmarked burials here. There were 200 unmarked burials here, but there are only 30 headstones that you can actually see," said Archaeologist Katherine Higgins.

In recent years, it was discovered that the regional African Methodist Episcopal Church owned this property.

"It's very important that we show honor to those persons buried here in this cemetery," said Reverend Henry Green Junior.

The Vice Chair of the AME Church drove to Hobe Sound from Fort Lauderdale to see the work being done Monday.

The ultimate goals are to connect more families, and get the cemetery on a state or national historic registry to create a true peaceful final resting place for Lloyd Jones’ father, and everyone else.