Graves of Black World War I veterans discovered abandoned in Allegheny County

On Friday, as America honors millions of veterans, we have the bittersweet story of an abandoned grave of black World War I veterans. It’s a startling discovery that has the attention of McCandless Township officials. who led to this discovery. Watch the video above to see where this research into his genealogy led him. Rev. Richard Freeman Sr., is the proud pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in Braddock. He was 15 when his mother died and 11 when he lost his father, which created a void in his life. the fact that you don’t know who you really are,” he told Action News 4 from Pittsburgh. So Freeman signed up with ancestry.com in 2001 to find out more about his generational identity. He was born in Waycross, Georgia. During his research, he was encouraged by a relative to seek out a man named Henry Porter, who was born on April 3, 1894 in Stewart County, Georgia. Records show Porter was drafted into the US Army and served in World War I as a member of the 402nd Labor Battalion. Porter’s Allegheny County death certificate says he died at age 39 as a resident of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, but to Freeman’s surprise he was buried in McCandless Township . Porter’s death certificate indicates that he was buried in Duncan Heights Cemetery. Freeman and his son found it four years ago. Several World War I veterans are buried there, but something surprised Freeman – Porter is not buried there. He found graves of white soldiers. Nearby is a heavily wooded area where he continued to search for Porter’s grave. They brought Action News 4 back from Pittsburgh to these woods to find a carrier four years after their first trip. What it took to get there was quite surprising. the crews were joined by Freeman’s wife and son. Porter’s grave was discovered among eight other black World War I veterans. It was abandoned, covered with a patch of land that was heavily wooded and overgrown. Freeman was upset after seeing this. “I was angry,” he said. “I was furious. Black veterans who were in such disarray, just dumped.” abandoned in the 1960s. Memorial Park Church leads a community effort to explore ways to save and develop the cemetery. For Freeman, it’s a bittersweet moment he brings back to the pulpit as a message to his congregation “We are connected to the great family of God and nothing can separate us from the love of God,” he said.

On Friday, as America honors millions of veterans, we have the bittersweet story of an abandoned grave of black World War I veterans.

It’s a startling discovery that has the attention of McCandless Township officials.

It was a pastor’s grueling mission to find his family that led to this discovery.

Watch the video above to see where this search into his genealogy led him.

Reverend Richard Freeman Sr. is the proud pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in Braddock.

He was 15 when his mother died and 11 when he lost his father, which created a void in his life.

“It’s a void that’s rooted in the fact that you don’t know who you really are,” he told Action News 4 from Pittsburgh.

So Freeman signed up with ancestry.com in 2001 to find out more about his generational identity.

He was born in Waycross, Georgia.

During his research, he was encouraged by a relative to seek out a man named Henry Porter, who was born on April 3, 1894 in Stewart County, Georgia.

Records show Porter was drafted into the US Army and served in World War I as a member of the 402nd Labor Battalion.

Porter’s Allegheny County death certificate says he died at age 39 as a resident of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, but to Freeman’s surprise he was buried in the township of McCandless.

Porter’s death certificate indicates he was buried in Duncan Heights Cemetery. Freeman and his son found it four years ago.

Several World War I veterans are buried there, but something surprised Freeman – Porter is not buried there.

He found graves of white soldiers. Nearby is a heavily wooded area where he continued to search for Porter’s grave.

They brought Action News 4 back from Pittsburgh to these woods to find a carrier four years after their first trip.

What it took to get there was quite surprising.

Several yards into the brush, our crews were joined by Freeman’s wife and son.

Porter’s grave was discovered among eight other black World War I veterans. It was abandoned, covered with a patch of heavily wooded and overgrown land.

Freeman was upset after seeing this.

“I was angry,” he said. “I was furious. The black veterans who were in such disarray, just got dumped.

A McCandless Township community historian says a Jewish entrepreneur established the cemetery in the early 1900s as a respectful and honorable place for black people to bury their loved ones.

After several owners, the cemetery was abandoned in the 1960s. Memorial Park Church leads a community effort to explore ways to save and develop the cemetery.

For Freeman, it’s a bittersweet moment that he brings back to the pulpit as a message to his congregation.

“We are connected to the great family of God and nothing can separate us from the love of God,” he said.

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