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Descendants working to protect unkept African American cemetery in Harris County

The desire to learn more about her past, brought a Columbus natives face to face with a historic find.
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 5:19 PM EST
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HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WTVM) - The desire to learn more about her past brought a Columbus native face to face with a historic find.

Yamona Pierce tells about the hundreds of people she’s helping along the way, while fighting to preserve her ancestors’ gravesites.

“If you don’t know where you come from, what happened to you, then you’ll easily repeat it again,” said Willie Walker, a descendant to enslaved people buried in an unkept lot in Harris County.

With that advice in mind, Pierce embarked on a journey to learn her family’s history.

She uncovered something she never imagined. She found an unkept cemetery with her third great grandparents. Pierce also uncovered graves of at least 500 other African Americans and enslaved people dating back to the 1800′s.

She said the search for her third great grandparents’ gravesite in 2019 brought her to what seemed like an abandoned piece of land on Pierce Chapel Road in Harris County. However, there was more here than meets the eye.

“They didn’t have a right of way on easement to be in this cemetery, we talked with the landowner about it. A year later, they met us out here and agreed to remove the power line and the cable line,” said Pierce.

With the help of an archeologist, Pierce has been able to begin helping other descendants like Walker learn more about their ancestry.

Walker says the cemetery is full of history and stories that date back as far as the 1800′s. One being of a African American soldier who fought in World War II named ‘Mr. Get Away’.

“He got that name because he was captured in war, and he got away from the enemy, and so he got the name ‘Mr. Get Away,’” Walker explained.

Pierce added, “In fact, Georgia is a unique state and Georgia does have laws to protect burial grounds but that wasn’t the case here.”

With the help of the archeologist and the owner of the land, Pierce plans to uncover just how many people are buried in the cemetery.

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