SAN ANTONIO & BLACK SETTLEMENT : 5
I began researching one historic Black settlement in northern San Antonio eighteen months ago. By cross referencing land records, census records, archived periodicals, and oral history accounts I began to realize that additional settlements had existed. Each had private property dedicated to religious (African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist), educational and funerary uses. I was able to locate two of the cemeteries in fairly short order, but the third escaped me until I conducted an oral interview with a living descendant, Mr. Dan Winters. He described his childhood visits to the cemetery to help clean overgrown vegetation. In addition, Mr.
Winters described the more prominent permanent markers and name inscriptions, including one Buffalo Soldier, Amos Jackson (c.1866 – 1920). Family memory estimated more than one hundred and fifty graves dating from 1876. Mr. Winters provided enough information to allow me to navigate to within two hundred yards of the original site. The disturbing part of his story is that the cemetery had been removed without the consent of the extended Winters-Jackson family after being in place for at least one hundred and ten years. A very tedious, and tortuous, search revealed that seventy one sets of remains from the cemetery had been moved to a nearby Catholic cemetery in 1986, and placed in a mass grave. I also came across several real estate deeds which specifically identified the metes and bounds of the “Negro graveyard”, and separated it from the surrounding private property. Eventually it became clear that the formal disinterment, or reinterment, permits were ever acquired. San Antonio KSAT 12 (ABC) News reporter Jessie Degollado prepared the story, “Lost African American Cemeteries Located in SA” to bring attention to this historic cultural landscape.