BET News – A North Carolina man who recently bought property found the graves of enslaved people.
According to WTVD, Kenneth Spellman bought two acres of land on Satterwhite Point Road in Henderson, Carolina. He planned to have space for his grandchildren, grow a garden and raise chickens. However, the previous owner revealed a family cemetery next to the land and told Spellman, “I’d love for you to have the property and preserve our heritage.” Spellman, who owns a construction company, bought the additional land and began clearing debris. He then made a huge discovery.
Spellman explained, “He did tell me there was a slave graveyard or slave buried somewhere on the property. He was vague about it. I didn’t think a lot about the graveyard because I’m thinking one or two gravestones that we’ll eventually find or not find. They described it as rocks turned up that were stuck in the ground.”
He continued, “We actually found about 40 to 50 stones. It was chilling. It was eight of my guys and myself and there wasn’t a dry eye on the ground when we found that. To know that people came here as kids and died.”
Nancy Bobbitt, president of the Vance County Historical Society, said, “Ken called and wanted to know if the historical society would have an interest in coming out and seeing the property. So many old cemeteries like that get bulldozed, but because Ken so faithfully looked and found that cemetery and preserved it, it will last another few generations.”
Using census and property records, Vance County Historical Society could determine the property owned by the Wortham family, who held people captive in the 1800s and enslaved them. The property was in the Wortham family for over 100 years. Spellman said he was told the Wortham family once owned 135 acres of land and grew tobacco. Additionally, an 1893 article stated, “investigators were working a case after the owner George Wortham found a mulatto infant buried in a soapbox in his family cemetery.”
Ken Spellman says he plans to preserve the legacy of the formerly enslaved people on his property. He told WTVD, “We’re actually freeing the souls of those who were in bondage here.”