Geophysical Determination of Unmarked Graves at 41NA140 (Old Bapist Cemetery/Zion Hill Baptist Church)
The Old Baptist Cemetery is the first organized Black Baptist cemetery (and church) in Nacogdoches County (Tindall 1976:94). It is located along the current rechanneled La Nana Creek on Park Street (Figure 1). The church/cemetery site was originally a two acre plot of land, donated by Frank and Ellen Walton, that housed a brush arbor church and the cemetery to the east side of the church (Texas Historical Commission 2008). The brush arbor church was reconstructed into a frame building and then to the current Zion Hill Baptist Church (that was later moved). The cemetery was used from 1897-1945, but fell into disrepair. The City of Nacogdoches assumed custodianship of the cemetery in the early 1970s.
In November 2007, Dr. Leslie G. Cecil and Dr. Jeffery E. Roth conducted an above ground survey of the cemetery grounds and noted that there were large open areas (areas without marked graves) within the fenced area. If as Mrs. McNeil states is true and the graveyard was filled to capacity, then these open areas could hold the unmarked graves of those individuals. The only way to determine if there were unmarked graves without conducting shovel tests or excavations was through the use of geophysical surveying methodologies. We obtained a permit from the Texas Historical Commission (#4825) to conduct a below ground survey using electromagnetic technology (EM-31).
Cecil, Leslie G. and Roth, Jeff, "Geophysical Determination of Unmarked Graves at 41NA140 (Old Bapist Cemetery/Zion Hill Baptist Church)" (2009). Faculty Publications. 3.
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