Volunteers called to help clean, preserve cemetery’s history

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Efforts are underway to clean-up a historic cemetery in Sumter County and volunteers are needed to help with the effort

On Saturday, July 22, from 8 a.m. to noon, Harris Place-Morning Star North Cemetery needs volunteers to help with the clearing of vegetation and weeds from the graveyard. The cemetery is overgrown with vegetation, trees, and bushes. Those who volunteer are asked to bring any tools that may be of use in clearing the grounds.

According to those organizing the effort, some of the graves were desecrated during the timber harvest and many headstones, monuments, grave markers, and other identifying objects were either lost or destroyed.

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A property owner named Richard Harris once owned the land and he was the founder of Harris Place Cemetery. Records show he buried his granddaughter, Laura Harris Bourdeaux, in this cemetery in 1840. Eventually, this would become his final resting place, along with many of his family members, confederate soldiers, and their families. Another property owner and confederate soldier, Captain Green W. Grant was also buried there in 1876.

Chammie, a Choctaw Indian, was buried at Harris Place-Morning Star North Cemetery in the late 1800s. She also had other family members who were buried at this cemetery.

According to information provided by the Miller family, which has ties to the cemetery, their third great-grandparents, Moss and Betsy Wallace, were born as slaves in 1810 and were brought to Sumter County to work the land. They had a son named Henry Clay Wallace who was born as a slave in 1858 and later freed after the Civil War. He bought the property that contained Harris Place cemetery in 1927, because his parents and other family members were buried there. Henry Clay Wallace changed the name of the cemetery to “Morning Star” and it became his final resting place in 1937.

The cemetery consists of Indians, slaves, slave owners, confederate soldiers, blacks and whites.

The Miller family is working with the University of Alabama Archeology Department to help with the location of their loved ones as well as other individual graves. Others are helping to identify the dead buried there.

The cemetery is located on Dove Road between Highway 27 and Sheffield Road in Cuba.

For more information visit www.harris-morningstar.org. The  Miller family may be contacted at 734-730-0863 or 205-392-5905 or by email at info@harris-morningstar.org.

The Miller family hopes the efforts to clean up the cemetery will go a long way in restoring and preserving the area’s history and heritage.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, July 12, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)