Tuskegee man makes unusual find in family cemetery
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WSFA) - Willie Boyd grew up in Tuskegee. It’s a special place to him. He left for a long career flying helicopters in the military and then settled down in Georgia. But four years ago, he decided it was time to come home.
“This is Cotton Valley,” said Willie Boyd. “It was cleared off, and they raised cotton here. The house I was born in, right down the road there.”
This land has been in the family since 1833. It was originally owned by a plantation owner, James C. Boyd. As he started clearing off the property near the family cemetery, he made quite a find.
“This is the Boyd Quarters Cemetery. It was the Pine Grove Cemetery in 1943.”
There are headstones all around this empty field. He just felt something had to be out in the middle. So, he called a company that specializes in locating burial sites.
“He found 486 unmarked graves.”
Each one is marked now with a silver metal circle driven into the ground. He also has a map to show just how many people were buried here. He doesn’t know who is buried out here, but wants to ensure this space is protected.
“When a cemetery is in place, no matter who owns it, you can’t just roll over it and destroy it. You respect it. We want to make sure, if someone wants to get some history of Cotton Valley, where they raised cotton, there were a few significant folks out here.”
Most of the Boyd headstones are right up front. He’d love to see a historical marker here one day so others can learn about this land that is filled with history.
“This is Cotton Valley,” said Boyd. “This is a community where you can take a moment and travel back in time and say, ‘Hey, I was there.’ Not just read about it in a book, but walk with that marker to lay out what happened here.”
For now, Mr. Boyd and his brother work to keep it looking nice, but he’d love some help down the road. To volunteer, you can call him at (470) 409-8852. He’s still working on that historical marker, too. We’ll have to check back in once he gets that done.
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