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Mother Bethel to Showcase 'Burial Ground' Artifacts at Community Information Session THIS SUNDAY
Expert panel will clarify recent news reports, discuss facts about the project, and plans going forward
For example, many news reports state that 3,000 bodies are still buried in the site, when that number has been only used to speculate how many could possibly be interred. "We only have the names of 1500 people who were buried at the site," says historian Terry Buckalew who shed light on this largely forgotten story about the Bethel Burial Ground while researching another project. Buckalew brought his findings to Mother Bethel's pastor and the Queen Village Neighborhood Association. The former pastors of Mother Bethel, a few church members, and a handful of members of the community recalled that they’d heard accounts about the cemetery turned playground. However, there was no historical marker near the site so the story faded over the years. “But the story was always right there in our church archives, buried in the minutes of the Trustee Board of Mother Bethel,”
"We were in the process of raising money to renovate the playground and building at Weccacoe," says Jeff Hornstein, President of the Queen Village Neighbors Association (www.qvna.org)
"My office has worked closely with Mother Bethel and QVNA since we found out about the Bethel Burial Ground over a year ago," says Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla. "I commend Mother Bethel and QVNA for developing this close relationship so that this site can become both a first-class playground for our children and appropriately commemorate the important history buried beneath it."
The City of Philadelphia paid for two archaeological digs to establish the boundaries of the cemetery so that the original graves will not be disturbed during renovations or at any time in the future. "There are several sites in the Parks and Recreation system which served as burial grounds," says Mark A. Focht, First Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. "At each we have worked closely with the community, archaeologists and regulators to preserve and honor the sanctity of the site."
Pastor Mark Tyler and Historian Terry Buckalew will take part in Sunday's community information session. Also in attendance will be Doug Mooney from the archeological company URS, Jennifer Mahar from the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and members of the Queen Village Neighbors Association. Sunday's showcase and community discussion are open to the public. The media and public are also invited to join the congregation in worship at 11am which will precede the community discussion. For more information go to http://www.motherbethel.org or call (215) 925-0616. All media inquiries should be directed to Leslie Patterson-Tyler at (609) 247-2632 or email Leslie@TylerMadePR.com.
Page Updated Last on: Aug 01, 2013