Rye’s African American Cemetery Preservation Event Sunday


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Bell Family On Sunday, September 10th at 5:30 pm, David Thomas, Founder of the Friends of the African American Cemetery, will give a talk about the current efforts to preserve this National Historic Register site in Rye, NY.

The event is co-sponsored by the Jay Heritage Center, and will take place at 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye.

Attendees can learn how ongoing genealogical research is expanding an understanding of the families that are buried there and their place in the narrative of Westchester County’s history. Thomas will link the Purdy family of Harrison and Rye to two generations of an emancipated family at the Jay Estate. Light refreshments will be served afterwards.

The African American Cemetery is adjacent to the Greenwood Union Cemetery, located at 215 North Street in Rye. The one acre parcel was donated by the Halsted family 150 years ago with the condition that it “shall forever hereafter kept, held and used for the purpose of a cemetery or burial place for the colored inhabitants of the said Town of Rye, and its vicinity free and clear of any charge therefor…”

Over the years the importance of this cemetery in the history of the community and nation has been recognized as it is listed on the National, New York State and Westchester County Registers of Historic Places.

After years of neglect the cemetery had run into disrepair. Some of the stones had toppled over while others were simply worn away. In 2010, the Town of Rye, Port Chester/Rye branch of the NAACP, Building Community Bridges (BCB), and the American Legion Post #93, formed an ad hoc committee to help raise awareness of the cemetery and restore the stones and clean away the overgrowth.

The talk is free and open to the public however seating is limited.

For more information call Barbara Specht at (914) 698-9275.

Photo of the Bell Family courtesy Carol J. Ubosi.

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