MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A forgotten cemetery in Berclair. One man made it his mission to figure out what happened to it and if there are bodies still buried there.
The cemetery is behind a daycare and laundromat off Berclair and Janice.
“When I was a youngster, we would play here. We called it the jungle, because it looked like a jungle,” said Jeff Droke.
Droke said there were 40-50 tombstones there at one point.
“These were from the 1880s to the 1920s. They were fairly weathered,” he said.
The graves belonged to Saint Stephen Baptist Church, a predominately African American congregation, that opened in the late 1800s.
We found old deeds dating back to 1882 when the church bought the land for just $60.
Then decades later, another sale happened.
“In the mid-70s, they built a convenience store,” said Droke.
The land was divided up among the trustees and sold to various parties. The church moved to another part of Memphis, but it’s unclear if that cemetery and caskets moved with it.
The land sits empty today.
Droke wants to find out what happened to the cemetery. He’s reached out to historians, the tax assessor’s office and county officials.
“I’ve thought about it off and on since I was a child,” he said.
He wants to make sure those souls of Berclair are not forgotten.
If you have any information to help Droke, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.