Historical African American burial ground discovered in Wilton

The executive director of the Wilton Historical Society, Nick Foster, said the location was a burial ground for enslaved and free Black people in town.

Tom Krosnowski and Nicole Alarcon Soares

Feb 22, 2024, 10:28 PM

Updated 54 days ago

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The Wilton Historical Society announced a historical discovery of a lost African American cemetery.
The executive director of the Wilton Historical Society, Nick Foster, said the location was a burial ground for enslaved and free Black people in town.
The site sits between Rte. 7 on the east, the Norwalk River and MetroNorth’s Danbury Branch railroad line to the west.
“We had heard plenty of oral histories of various enslaved people, but frequently it’s hard to find the evidence that they existed,” said Foster.
Foster said the discovery of the Spruce Bank Cemetery was made through extensive research.
The society said the site had been impacted by development over the years.
After narrowing down the range, the team used a ground-penetrating radar survey that revealed more than eight burials within the surveyed area on the site.
“When he went through one of the grids he was looking at, he found eight anomalies that are essentially indicators that there were burials there,” Foster said. “We have to believe that over 130 years, possibly more.”
This discovery is shining a light on a previously forgotten piece of town history, including the role that anti-slavery abolitionists played just across the street.
“One that we noticed that was most helpful was an 1880s recollection of witnessing a burial at the Gregory House across the street. We knew that it had to be somewhere that was visible from the house,” said Foster.
The society says Connecticut was one of the last northern states to free slaves - but it was a much different history than the plantations of the South.
“To have a cemetery that is a physical reminder of their presence in this community is a great way to remind people that they were here and as important in building this community as anyone else,” said Foster.


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