MIAMI (CBS4) – A mystery solved is now a memorial dedicated in Lemon City Tuesday morning. Three years ago construction workers building affordable housing unearthed bones on the site. It was later determined those were the bones of Bahamian settlers, some who helped found Miami. The cemetery was not on the records in Miami city documents so it was a surprise to those who discovered it.
“It’s significant that this was a certain period of time in the history of the United States when people were denied their rights because they were run out of this community,” said local historian, Enid C. Pinkney, who led the movement to preserve the site.
While researching the site, Pinkney discovered her own grandfather was buried there, a surprise that took her breath away at the time.
“I don’t really know why my grandmother never told me about this cemetery and that her husband was buried here,” said Pinkney. “But I think that the reason that she never talked about it was because it was a really bitter experience. It was an experience that she wanted to forget.”
But the more than 500 buried in that cemetery will no longer be forgotten. The site is now preserved as an historical place with a memorial marking the names of all those buried on the grounds. Hundreds of people attended the dedication Tuesday morning, some of them relatives of those buried there.
Eighty-two year old Georgia Ayers attended the event.
“My granddaddy worked here at the rail road and he was also the grave digger,” explained Ayers.
The discovery of the cemetery solved a major mystery for her family. They had no idea what happened to her grandfather Charles Henry Pierce who disappeared in 1923. But now they know he is buried in Lemon City.
“It is well with my soul,” said Ayers. “Nothing is going to bring him back. But now I know that those that are here will be honored.”
The parking lot project that was slated to be built on the cemetery grounds has since been moved elsewhere.