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Family searches for graves of slave ancestors in northern Utah

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WELLSVILLE, Cache County — The descendants of some Utah pioneers who had been delivered to the state as slaves venerated their ancestors via discovering and staining their graves Thursday in Cache County.

On the southeast nook of the Wellsville City Cemetery is a patch of grass that appears most commonly empty. It’s the place Judee Williams and her circle of relatives imagine some of their slave ancestors had been buried.

“We know that they were buried in a segregated part of the cemetery,” Williams mentioned. “These poor babies. They’ve laid there without their names for so long. We’re going to give them their name.”

Williams mentioned her nice, nice grandfather, Nathan Bankhead, helped settle the city however ultimately left for California after being freed. He did, on the other hand, have 3 youngsters who died younger, in addition to a fellow slave, Louis Bankhead. Williams believed all 4 had been buried close to every different.

Wellsville City put a small monument in the world in May 2017. However, Williams felt it used to be vital to seek out the true graves and put down one thing extra particular.

“This has haunted me for a year,” Williams mentioned. “I just haven’t been able to let it go.”

Not realizing what she would in finding, she got here to Wellsville from her house in Northern California, and employed an underground radar corporate to do a seek of the world. Williams’ cousin, Marsha Boyd, introduced her circle of relatives up from Salt Lake City for the development.

“It would be nice to be able to come up here and say, ‘Yeah, this is where we started, this is where we were,’” Boyd mentioned. “I have been told most of my life that no, we didn’t come as slaves — that we were free people — and we weren’t. We came as slaves, and the history needs to be taught right.”

Family searches for graves of slave ancestors in northern Utah
Judee Williams (left) consults with a radar technician from Ground Penetrating Radar Systems, inc. on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Photo: KSL TV)

After a number of passes from the lawnmower-shaped radar device, a technician used to be ready to find 4 graves shut in combination; one massive, and 3 small.

“I feel good. I think we did it,” Williams mentioned, beginning to tear up.

“I feel like I have found something that I never knew,” Boyd later added. “Something that was missing in my life, and I’m really happy about that.”

The circle of relatives’s subsequent step used to be to make a decision on markers for the graves, one thing they hope to have in position in time for their circle of relatives reunion subsequent Pioneer Day in 2019.

“This has been a long journey,” Williams mentioned. “(It’s) been over a year that I’ve been trying to find our babies, and I’m so glad we did.”

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