Historic cemeteries deserve our respect

Congrats to the New Palestine Plan Commission for faulting the development of the Delaney Cemetery.

A few years ago, I was walking around at the site, and I discovered a stone buried in the grass, so who knows what other burials are there.

Delaney Cemetery is a historic African-American site and one of the few in Hancock County.

In 1860, when John Delany sold the farm to William Nichols, he was smart enough to reserve a .25-acre graveyard with a 5-foot pathway to the graveyard from the state highway, now U.S. 52.

Over the years, the cemetery was neglected until Aid Association for Lutherans with Zion Lutheran Church did a project to identify and clean all the cemeteries in Sugar Creek Township.

The Township Trustee erected a fence to protect the visible grave markers.

The first fence was replaced by an Eagle Scout project and the township trustee provided the fencing material.

The land was farmed by Marguerite Lantz, a descendant of William Nichols, until her death when the estate through the Greenfield Banking Co. sold the land in 1981.

The 1981 deed excepts the .25-acre graveyard with the 5-foot pathway — which thus was never conveyed to others.

John Delaney operated a tavern and store along the Brookville Treaty Road one mile west of New Palestine many years before the Civil War.

The house still exists and is the Jim and Phyllis Arthur home.

Mrs. Delaney was a good cook and was known many miles along the old state pike.

When John was asked what percent profit he made, he was reported as saying he was not a scholar and knew nothing about percent, but when he bought goods for one dollar and sold them for two, he didn’t think he lost anything.

The 1850 census records list the Delanys as “mulatto,” which, in today’s world, is a person of mixed-race ancestry.

Sarah and John Delany were also recorded in the census as property owners with $7,700 worth of real estate, which would have been a lot of money back in the good old days.

Another cemetery which I have some concern about is the pioneer McNamee Cemetery, also in Sugar Creek Township.

This could also be called the Hudson cemetery, since a man named Hudson set off the original plot.

It was acquired by the McNamee family in 1887.

There are only four graves at this site.

I know that list goes on, and land owners change, and development happens, but you can always tell the nature of a society by how it treats the dead.

I believe it behooves us all to respect pioneer burying grounds with respect and dignity.

Enough. I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, Ind. 46140.