More than 100 unmarked graves rediscovered at Mid-South cemetery

RED BANKS, Miss. — The Red Banks Cemetery next to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church was thought to hold only white people, until a recent discovery.

Now 119 unmarked graves are believed to be the final resting place of enslaved people.

Ralph Farrell closely guards a handwritten guest book for the church. The book lists the white people who started the church, but the very last names listed read "John C Pirant and Harriet, a colored sister."

Related: Crews find possible slave remains in unmarked graves in the Mid-South

Now Ralph Farrell and the Red Banks Cemetery Association are determined to find out if those buried there are slaves, their names and to honor them.

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It will be expensive, time-consuing It will be expensive, time-consuming and challenging, but Rhodes Provost and archeologist, Milton Mooreland, knows it's possible.

Mooreland and Rhodes students are in the process of identifying slave graves on the Ames Plantation, 50 miles east of Memphis.

"In this case of course it's a very messy and very tragic history that you've got 119 unmarked graves," said Mooreland.  "They can find information, but they are going to have to dig and will have to gain the trust of the community that has those records, so they will share them."

If these 119 markers turn out to be slaves one imagines this may be as much peace as they ever knew.

"They need to be remembered, and they also need to be honored," said Farrell.

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