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Bereans Restore a Grave Situation

Berea College students recently teamed up with citizens of Rockcastle County to restore the Walker Newcomb Cemetery where black soldiers of the Civil War are buried.

Cemetery Dedication

Recently members of the Rockcastle and Mt.Vernon communities have decided to join together with students of Berea College in efforts of “Bridging the Gap.” The project stemmed from research conducted by Debra Bulluck and Kim-Dung Nguyen. Students and faculty members of Berea College recently went to Mt. Vernon to work with the members of the Mt. Vernon and Rockcastle community to restore the Walker Newcomb Cemetery. Newcomb was the slave of one James Newcomb, a doctor and a hotel owner in the Rockcastle area. Walker Newcomb bought his wife and himself out of slavery and resided in the Rockcastle community.

Community leaders like County Judge Buzz Carloftis and David Owens, along with Berea’s BSU and ASA worked together to restore the condition of the cemetery, and to ensure that the history of the cemetery along with the history and legacy that blacks left in the Rockcastle and Mt. Vernon area would not be forgotten. The group not only took the time to recognize Walker Newcomb and his wife, but also the black soldiers of the Civil War that are also buried in the cemetery. The group installed a special a monument that reads “Graves of United States Colored Troops.”

“The restoration and rededication of this cemetery is to remind us all of the history of Rockcastle County. To remind those of us that live here, that we weren’t the only ones that lived in Rockcastle, but there were blacks here as well,” stated Calapist.

Amongst those who helped to make the project a success was one Joe Henderson, the nephew of a former slave owner.“The relationship that blacks and whites had with each other here during the time of slavery and the Civil War was good. This rededication project will mean a lot to the Rockcastle community as a whole; to help remind us all that at one time we all black and white were as one,” added Henderson a resident of the Mt. Vernon area; Henderson helped work with the project, and is also a 1944 graduate of Berea College.

All funding to make the project a success was provided by the state in the form of a grant. A formal dedication ceremony for the Walker Newcomb Cemetery is planned to take place this fall.

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