A descendant recently asked us about the issue of flooding, one of the most frequent problems encountered in African American cemeteries. You need not be present directly after a storm to note the problem, or where in the cemetery the problem most often occurs.
In example are two photos of the grave of Pvt. Jacob Spellman, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, taken six years apart, in the Spellman Family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery. The photo on the left from July, 2015 shows Pvt. Spellman’s grave, leaning slightly right and back at a twenty-degree angle. The photo on the right, from April 3, 2021, shows Spellman’s grave nearly level to the ground. Spellman’s gravestone is standard military-issue, about thirty-nine inches tall, so it’s evident that whatever amount of water collects in the cemetery, it is often in this area. Visual cues like this one can inform what flooding issues may exist in a cemetery, and where volunteers with preservation projects can focus their efforts.