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Help! Donate to our 501c3 for a Freedmen Cemetery from 1891

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The roots of our family’s history can be traced back to the Elmwood (Giboney) Plantation and to the Bollinger Mill Plantation in Cape Girardeau County. Many of our enslaved ancestors are buried at each of these locations. We cherish the stories passed down from them and their lives will continue to be remembered.

Shady Grove Cemetery in Gordonville, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, is an African American burial ground with the gravesites of former slaves and their descendants. The land was sold to the Shady Grove Cemetery in 1892. In addition, Shady Grove School was located there as a place to educate the formerly enslaved people’s children.

Although more grave sites are unmarked, there are more than 250 documented gravesites of the formerly enslaved people and their descendants. Ms. Louise (Cardwell) Duncan’s father and grandfather were volunteer sextons at Shady Grove Cemetery. She reported growing up playing with her brother in the cemetery and recalled her grandparents and other ancestors buried down the hill toward the water. While attending our family reunion on Declaration Day in 2019 and she shared her memories of cemetery cleanups and picnic celebrations with the community each past Declaration Day.

Shady Grove is the resting place of Washington Giboney. He fought alongside his brother Lewis Giboney with the 102nd Infantry of the USCT in the US Civil War. Also, Alexander Giboney, who fought with the 65th Infantry of the USCT, is believed to be buried there. William Lee fought in WWII and Walter Lee, a WWII veteran, was the last person buried in Shady Grove Cemetery.

We, the descendants, are proud of our heritage, and in 2019, we held our first family reunion at Shady Grove Cemetery in honor of our ancestors. Since then, we have helped maintain the property and are committed to its restoration. We are forever grateful to Louise Cardwell, Historian Bob Blythe, other family members, friends, and the Cape Girardeau community. On June 27, 2022, Shady Grove Cemetery was listed on the National Park Service’s Registry of Historic Places. On March 28, 2024, Shady Grove Heritage and Preservation Organization, a 501c3 formed by descendants with direct lineage, became the trustee for Shady Grove Cemetery.

We plan to use the funds to hire a preservation planner and for maintenance of Shady Grove Cemetery in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. There is a lot of work to be done in the near future to restore and protect this historic piece of American history.

Want to join us in making a difference? We are raising money to benefit Shady Grove Heritage and Preservation Organization, and any donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to us.

Donations (2)

  • Judy Humphrey
    • $20 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $55 
    • 3 mos
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Judy Humphrey
Columbia, MO
Shady Grove Heritage and Preservation Organization

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