When the Taft Development Group (TDG) begins breaking ground in mid-November on the multi-use 21-acre “Proximity Matthews” complex on 10252 Monroe Rd., Charlotte native and UNC anthropology major Hoke Thompson will be marshaling area townspeople to begin carefully clearing out fallen trees and debris on Roseland Cemetery, located on the back of the property.
Roseland Cemetery, also known as the town’s African American Cemetery is the final resting place of approximately 75 former slaves, many of whom were also Crestdale residents. The descendants of many of those buried at Rosedale still own or live on their family land.
There are many sunken spaces once believed to hold graves and a few still-standing and barely legible gravestones.
Photo by Cyma Shapiro
Overgrown and in total disrepair, the less than two-acre plot is on private property with limited accessibility. There are many sunken spaces believed to once hold graves and a few still-standing and barely legible gravestones. Six years ago, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission designated the cemetery as an historic landmark.
Having originally worked on restoring the Native American and free slave burial cemetery on the grounds of Sardis Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, Hoke Thompson has experience with this type of venture. Now the Project Manager for this historic cemetery reclamation project, Thompson first showed interest as an Eagle Scout and has waited two long years to see this all of this come to fruition. “I’ve been eager to get in there and fix it up,” he said. He will also be joined by Paula Lester, president of the Matthews Historical Commission, members of the Matthews Preservation Advisory Committee and others.
According to Dustin Mills, VP of TDG, the cemetery will not be impacted by nearby construction. “There will be no tractors or tree (work there),” said Mills. “It will be preserved in its present state... We’re committed to making this an area which will be beneficial to those who have loved ones in the cemetery and allow them to have access to it, (too).”