Cemetery being considered for National Historic Register

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 7, 2001

A local landmark soon may be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, June 07, 2001

A local landmark soon may be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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On June 1, the Burlington 37 Cemetery was recommended for the National Register by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board.

"I think it’s very important," Owen Pleasant, chairman of the cemetery’s board of trustees, said.

Others agree.

"It’s rich in history up there," Lou Ann Blagg, a member of the Historical Society, said.

The cemetery is named for 37 African American slaves freed by James Twyman, a Virginian who owned the slaves and a plantation. In his will, Twyman set his slaves free and gave them money to purchase land in Ohio.

They settled in Burlington in 1849 and together the 37 bought 640 acres of land. The cemetery is located within this land.

The remaining funds were divided among the freed slaves and their descendants in 1874, Blagg said.

Pleasant said it was exceptional for a slave owner to make those provisions for his slaves. People come from all over the country to see the cemetery, with visitors coming from as far away as California, Florida and New York, he said.

The Burlington 37 have attracted even more attention. J. Earl Pratt wrote a book, "Promised Land," about the group.

Pleasant’s grandmother, the last living member of 37 freed slaves, was buried in the cemetery in 1942, he said.

"I’m proud of my heritage," Pleasant said.

To be qualified for this distinction, a place must meet one or more of the following: be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to history; be associated with the lives of people significant to our history; exhibit the characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, represent the work of a master or high artistic values; or yield important information about the past.

A property usually must be 50 years old.

A decision from the Keeper of the National Register about whether or not the cemetery will be added to the National Register is expected within 90 days.