Tombstone Tuesday: African Cemetery in Key West

While I was vacationing in Florida this past week, I came across this sign, marking the site of an African Cemetery on Higgs Beach, Key West.  It is so sad.:(

Here is a transcription of the sign:

AFRICAN CEMETERY AT HIGGS BEACH

Near this site lie the remains of 294 African men, women, and children who died in Key West in 1860.  In the summer of that year, the U.S. Navy rescued 1, 432  Africans from three American-owned ships engaged in the illegal slave trade. Ships bound for Cuba were intercepted by the U.S. Navy, who brought the freed Africans to Key West where they were provided with clothing, shelter, and medical treatment. They had spent weeks in unsanitary and inhumane conditions aboard the slave ships. The U.S. steamships Mohawk, Wyandott, and Crusader rescued these individuals from the Wildfire, where 507 were rescued; the William, where 513 were rescued;  and the Bogota where 417 survived. In all, 294 Africans succumbed at Key West to various diseased caused by conditions of their confinement. They were buried in unmarked graves on the present day Higgs Beach where West Martello Tower now stands. By August, more than 1,000 survivors left for Liberia, West Africa, where the U.S. Government supported them for a time. Hundreds died on the ships before reaching Liberia. Thus, the survivors were returned to their native land, Africa, but not to their original homes on that continent.

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  • Dee Blakley - March 15, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Wow, what an interesting bit of history – a really sad part that I never recall reading or hearing about in school when I was taking history.ReplyCancel

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