The Historic Preservation Division from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources conducted a ground penetrating survey last week at Freemantown Cemetery.
The cemetery, located on the Berry College mountain campus, was originally the resting place of freed slaves from the Freeman family. The community was started by William Thomas Freeman, a skilled blacksmith and an emancipated slave of the post-Civil War era. Eventually, members of five different families in the community were buried on the land.
The archaeologists are working to determine the boundaries of the cemetery and the number of graves present. Prior to the survey there were thought to be 10 graves. Four distinctly marked stones with names, five stones thought to be gravestones and one unmarked marble stone are visible. Deputy State Archeologists Rachel Black and Archaeology Outreach Coordinator Sarah Love conducted the survey with the help of Robert Theberge, an intern from Georgia State University.
Cheryl Freeman-Snipes, a descendant of Sanford Freeman who is buried in the Freemantown Cemetery, made the trip from her home in Michigan to be present for the survey.
Freeman-Snipes is also in the process of starting a Freeman Historical Society. She is passionate about maintaining the history of the site and the family name.
“I would love to see the Georgia Registry make this a Historic Black Cemetery,” Freeman-Snipes said.
Jennifer Dickey, associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University and a former Berry faculty member, and Freeman-Snipes started restoration efforts of the cemetery in 2010. They hope that with the completion of this survey the cemetery can be cleaned up during Berry’s alumni work week in May.