City committee unveils plan to memorialize graves at Capital City Country Club

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The future of the unmarked gravesites at the Capital City Country Club came up at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting; a focus group created in October of 2020 presented their report to local elected leaders.

The National Park Service used ground penetrating radar at the end of 2019 and found about 40 unmarked graves that are believed to be slaves from the former Houstoun plantation.

The committee is hoping for an accessible pathway, a permanent sign and wall, and a state historical marker to be placed at the Capital City Country Club to memorialize those gravesites.

A rendering shows the commemoration site with a seat wall and signage that the group would like placed at that spot. City Parks and Recreation Director Ashley Edwards gave a presentation to Commissioners about what the group had collaborated on.

WCTV spoke with committee member Delaitre Hollinger, who said the more African American cemetery sites that are reclaimed and protected as historic, the more the community will be able to learn.

“It’s very important that we recognize our history for our young people,” said Hollinger. “And it’s also very important that we leave something behind so that they will be able to know, and to learn, and to grow from it, so we don’t repeat that history.”

The language for the proposed historical marker says archaeological research in 2019 found 23 likely unmarked graves and another 14 possible additional graves. It also adds that in 1860, enslaved persons made up three fourths of Leon County residents. At that time, 78 were owned by Edward Houstoun.

Hollinger told Commissioners during Wednesday’s meeting that many people buried on the site are believed to have been children. He said the site was visible until the 1920s. It was rediscovered in the 1970s.

An application has been submitted to the Florida Department of State for the Historical Marker; the decision should be released on May 20th.

Hollinger told WCTV that the decision on the State Historical marker will be made by another committee on May 20.

Edwards says the timeline for the construction would be in the fall of 2021.

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