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Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery
Also known as: Colored Union Benevolent Society Cemetery
2630 Adams Mill Road Northwest
Woodley Park
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia  USA
Postal Code: 20009

Cemetery notes and/or description:
Beneath Walter Pierce Park are two adjacent historic cemeteries: the quarter-acre Burying Ground or Place of Interment for the Society of Friends or Quakers, which dates to 1809, and a 6 3/4-acre African American cemetery, which operated between 1870 and 1890. At the peak of its use, Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery was the largest African American burial ground in the District.

Mark Mack, curator of Howard University's W. Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory, researched the list of burials and conducted a noninvasive surface survey.

He tallied 8,428 burials, with fewer than 300 of them recorded as being dis­interred and reburied elsewhere. Hundreds — possibly as many as 1,900 — of the bodies actually came from an older African American cemetery that had been at 12th and V streets NW.

There were biographical details, too: names, ages, birthplaces and occupations. About 60 percent of the bodies buried at Mount Pleasant Plains were of children under the age of 5. Most of the adults buried there had moved to Washington immediately after the Civil War. Most had been born in slavery.

The District stopped issuing burial permits for Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery in 1890, claiming the ground was at capacity.

In 1939, developers who hoped to build apartment buildings hired an under­taker to disinter and rebury the bodies in another cemetery. He located 129 remains and 13 headstones, and the cemetery was deemed clear of human remains. But efforts to level the ground in 1959 turned up numerous graves and bones, and the city halted construction. Eventually, the developers abandoned the land. The District acquired it in 1982 and named it Community Park West, which later became Walter Pierce Park.

Excerpts from "Graves Beneath the Park", by Michael Price, published in The Washington Post, May 16, 2013.

Visit the Walter Pierce Park Cemeteries website for more information.

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