Cemetery reclamation project reveals hundreds of unmarked graves - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Cemetery reclamation project reveals hundreds of unmarked graves

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Beneath a bright spring sky a wrought iron arch offers the name Magnolia Cemetery, a place of final repose that's been one for a good, long while.

"We know that slaves were buried in this cemetery, " said William King, a one time Marine gunnery Sergeant turned minister who now pastors the Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in League City.

"We can't be successful as a church knowing that there is a cemetery with such rich and valuable history in such a deplorable condition without doing something about it," said King.

And so King and other church leaders went to work, attacking ground fully engulfed by thick brush and shoulder high grass.

The mission to reclaim the resting place from neglect revealed far more than crumbled markers.

"There are over 400 unmarked graves in Magnolia cemetery," said King.

400 mysteries.

"There's no headstone. There's no marker and we are left to wonder, who could it be?," said King kneeling next to a sunken patch of earth.

Driven by duty and armed with documents from the Galveston Historical Commission, King is seeking answers to questions made difficult by time.

"We need loved ones to come forward whose loved ones are buried in Magnolia Cemetery. We need records. We need history. We stand upon the shoulders of people who are buried in this cemetery," said King.

Folks like Louis Gill's uncle, Quentin Gill, a veteran of World I.

The nephew hopes to pay homage with a marker if he can just find where to place it.

"That would bring me a lot of satisfaction, it really would," said Louis.

Pastor King says doing right by the departed has delivered dividends to the living.

"In my spirit I felt like the souls of the people who are lying in rest here were saying 'thank you'," said King.

The clearing and cleaning has already given Mae Maxey comfort and a moment of conversation.

"I told them one day I'll see you. I love them," said Maxey with a big smile.

You could call it the gift of looking forward by first reaching back.

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