The Huntsville Item, Saturday, May 8, 1999

Woman to Index Black Cemeteries

By Michelle C. Lyons
The Huntsville Item

Most local genealogy enthusiasts know the pains of trying to trace the Walker County roots of early Black families - although the predominately white cemeteries are indexed, the traditionally Black cemeteries are not.

That's why one California woman has made it her mission to catalog not only the names and locations of all of Walker County's Black cemeteries but also everyone buried inside.

Ruth Stubblefield first realized Walker County's need for a Black cemetery index when she tried to track down information about her great-grandparents, who lived in Walker County for many years.

Stubblefield contacted the Huntsville Public Library, where she was told that, although burial, records were on file for the primarily white cemeteries, there were no such records for the principally Black cemeteries.

"There was a need for (such an index) here," she said. "Other people like myself come looking for information about their folks, and they either won't find it or will get discouraged."

Stubblefield decided to pack up her recreational vehicle and make the journey to Huntsville to make an index of her own. She anticipates that the project will take

about six months to complete.

So far, Stubblefield has been able to locate more than 20 predominantly Black Walker County cemeteries. Many she has been made aware of simply by word of mouth.

"I talk to a lot or older folks who know where these places are," she said. "There are a lot of smaller cemeteries and lots of big ones."

Once she locates the cemeteries, Stubblefield's plan is simply to walk through each one looking at each headstone and making a record or each person's name as well as their date of birth and date of death. The information then will be compiled into an index to be kept at the Huntsville Public Library for public use.

Stubblefield added that there are more people buried in the cemeteries than she actually will be able to find, simply because some people were buried with no headstone or markers.

Stubblefield said she feels the project is a worthwhile one, especially if she is able to help just one family trace it's roots.

Should anyone have information about the whereabouts of predominately Black Walker County cemeteries, they are welcome to contact Stubblefield through the Huntsville Public Library at
(409) 291-5472, or by e-mail at ruth@pocketmail.com.

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