Wheaton High School Students Begin Working on Clearing Area That Was Avery Road Colored Cemetery

Courtesy Lauren Mincher Zolkiewicz

Wheaton High School’s National Honor Society has partnered with the City of Rockville Government to clear the area that used to be Avery Road Colored Cemetery behind Croydon Creek Nature Center. Today, the students began their work in the area.

The cemetery was founded by Benjamin Franklin Smith, who was enslaved under Judge Richard Johns Bowie at the site of present day Glenview Mansion. After Smith was emancipated, he was given a small tract of land by Bowie where he built a farm with a house and other small structures. Eventually, he built a small cemetery for freedmen and women, including many formerly enslaved individuals from the plantation.

Unfortunately, the cemetery was abandoned in the early 1900s and is now overgrown with thick, thorny brush. The city of Rockville recently received a grant to bring in ground penetrating radar and with the use of magnetometry some of these graves will be identified. Research will be conducted on the individuals with the hope of turning this area into a learning and educational experience for the public.

Today, 51 students from Wheaton’s NHS spent hours clearing over an acre of thick, thorny, brush, trash, logs, etc to allow for the use of the ground penetrating radar. They have a second scheduled cleanup day on May 14.

Courtesy of Lauren Mincher Zolkiewicz

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