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Wheary graveyard preserves memory of early black New Brunswickers in the area

Forgotten graveyards offer insight into black history

Mary McCarthy and New Brunswick Black History Society want to preserve links to the past

By Lauren Bird, CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2015 1:10 PM AT Last Updated: Dec 01, 2015 1:58 PM AT

Most of the graves in the Wheary graveyard are more than 100 years old.

Most of the graves in the Wheary graveyard are more than 100 years old. (Lauren Bird/CBC)

Mary McCarthy wants people to know about the Wheary graveyard near Fredericton and other black graveyards in the area that are being forgotten by time and history.

Bushes and trees have overgrown the handful of graves and the iron gate that surrounds the burial site is crooked and rusted.​

“The stones of this era tell a bit of a story,” said McCarthy as she walked through the Wheary graveyard in Keswick.

“I believe they’re telling a little summary of their lives. What’s unfortunate is that we can’t read all the writing because of the deterioration of the stone.”

The Wheary graveyard is the final resting place of some of the early black New Brunswickers in the area. The family lines of black settlers died out, or their descendants moved away long ago.

hi-mary-mccarthy

Mary McCarthy looks over some of the graves in the Wheary graveyard in Keswick (Lauren Bird/CBC)

The 22-plot graveyard sits on the edge of private property in Keswick. Most of the gravestones are more than 100 years old and hardly visible through the brush and some have started to decay.

In the summer, McCarthy recruited a small crew of people to fix up the graveyard by cutting branches and raking leaves, but it is now overgrown once again.

McCarthy is the president of the New Brunswick Black History Society. She hopes that by preserving the graves and fixing up the cemetery some of that history could also be preserved.

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