Unmarked graves discovered at Northport plantation cemetery

Located at the end of Old Byler Road in Northport is a two-acre property almost as old as the state itself.

It is the site of the Prewitt Slave Cemetery, where scores of formerly-enslaved Black people owned by the Prewitt family are buried.

On Friday, June 3, surveyors from Omega Mapping Services discovered one unmarked grave after the next using ground penetrating radar.

“There will be at least 200 unmarked in this acre and a half, at least,” said Len Strozier, who owns the grave surveying company.

The system found 30 graves belonging to formerly enslaved Black people in 15 minutes, showing air pockets where caskets or bodies wrapped in shrouds are located.

With a plantation sprawling over 9 square miles, John Welch Prewitt was among the antebellum South’s wealthiest men and one of its leading enslavers.

Each of the 600 people he enslaved had his last name, a common practice in the antebellum era.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District said the findings are a painful memory of America’s slave-holding past, but an important reminder of the value of history.

“We’re an important part of America’s story,” she said.

To that end, the representative has joined 49 others in sponsoring the African American Burial Grounds Network Act to preserve sites like the Prewitt Slave Cemetery, and educate young people in American history.

“I think that its important that we preserve all aspects of the story,” Sewell said.

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