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Friday, January 11, 2019

Monument For Unmarked Graves In Owen Sound

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Public asked to make suggestions for the design of a donated monument in Potter's Field.

There is a plan to create a monument to recognize unmarked graves in Greenwood Cemetery in Owen Sound.

The public is being asked for suggestions on what a monument funded by an anonymous donor should look like.

Researcher and project volunteer committee member Aly Boltman says there are at least 1,242 people who are buried in the unmarked section of the cemetery known as the 'Potter's Field.'

"Many of them are from our black community," says Boltman, noting some were direct descendents of slaves or escaped slaves, themselves that came up through the underground railroad.

She says there are hundreds of women and children.

A survey is now open to gather suggestions for the design of the privately funded monument. Comments can be made until the end of February.

Potter's Fields are not uncommon in cemeteries, and are also known as "stranger's plots" or "indigent plots." They typically contain graves people who were poor or marginalized.

Boltman says in some cases people are buried one above the other, sometimes six graves deep.

Boltman has given two tours of Greenwood Cemetery, one for last year's Lupercalia Festival, and another for Doors Open Owen Sound.

It was during the Doors Open tour in the summer, that she was approached by a donor who wants to remain anonymous about creating a monument to the people who are buried in the Potter's Field.

While, their graves are unmarked, many have been identified, thanks in large part to research by Terri Jackson. A list of people buried there can be found HERE

Of note, buried in the Potter's Field is the well known John 'Daddy' Hall, a former escaped slave who served in the war of 1812. He was the Owen Sound Town Crier and was said to have six wives and many children. He also is said to have lived to over 100 years old.

Boltman says another person buried there is Cook Teets, a blind man who was hanged at the old courthouse and jail after being accused of poisoning his wife, though many have argued he was likely innocent.

Boltman says the Potter's Field is easy enough to spot because is it simply a large, open space in the northeast part of the cemetery.

Boltman says they hope to create and install the monument by the late spring or summer.

You can listen to a full length interview with Boltman on the Open Line show HERE

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