First Tour of African-American Burial Ground Sites a Success

Cemetery Maps From Pine Street in Kingston

Today, we took part in a special event. It is a new beginning of what will be a long journey in helping the AME Zion Church on Franklin Street (the oldest African-American Church in the city of Kingston) preserve a part of their precious history.

City of Kingston Historian Ed Ford met with residents, county historians, church members, college students and children, the VFW of Kingston and members of the Kingston Land Trust to learn more about the African- American Burial Grounds located on South Wall Street and Pine Street.

Several attempts to protect the African-American cemeterys have taken place over the past 20 years. Even so, there is still a great deal that is unknown at this time.

We’ll continue to provide documentation at the KLT website as the project unfolds. Today was audio taped in full, and shortly we will provide a link to it.

The Kingston Land Trust invites all interested parties who wish to join our effort in collaboration with the church and the African-American community to please contact Rebecca Martin at 845/877-LAND (5263) or

Joseph Forte of the VFW writes to the Kingston Common Council (circa 1987). Page 1

Joseph Forte Letter, Page 2

City of Kingston Historic Landmark Preservation Commission on 155-159 Pine Street

The youth from the Everett Hodge Center arrive to the African-American Burial Ground in elastic shackles. A disturbing site.

The Kingston Land Trust Hosts Tour of the Mt. Zion African-American Burial Grounds in Kingston

The Kingston Land Trust will host a very special tour of the African-American Burial Grounds in the city of Kingston on Wednesday, August 11th at 2:00pm.  The group will meet at the South Wall Street cemetary and will be led by Kingston Historian Ed Ford, who will take participants through the history of both sites (South Wall and Pine Street).

Due to a lack of parking¬†at the site, participants are asked to please either meet at 1:30pm in front of the Hudson Valley Coffee Traders, 288 Wall Street in uptown Kingston to carpool. All others, as you know the site is not easy to find and hasn’t any parking. Please park along the cemetary entrance side of the road, and be careful not to block the driveway that is adjacent.

If your group wishes to participate, please contact Executive Director Rebecca Martin at or, you can call 845/877 – LAND (5263).

About the Mt. Zion African American Cemetary (as per the Kingston, NY Architectural Guide):
This African-American cemetary is scarcely visible from South Wall Street because it is set well back from teh street in a semi-rural setting. LIttle is known about the history of the cemetary, although Gail Schneider discovered a deed dated May 1st, 1840,, between Henry and Ann Houghtaling, parties of the first part, and Richard Peterson, Samuel Brown, and Samuel Beekman, Trustees of the “Coulered people’s Burying Ground,” parties of the second part. What is apparent is the beauty of the setting, a wooded, elevated tongue of land extending from the cemetary entrance of South Wall Street and providing views down the steep slope towards the Rondout Creek. While smaller than Montrepose and Wiltwyck cemetaries, and lacking the grand monuments and mausolea, Mouth Zion is apparently older. Its landscape features are as appealingly pituresque as those found at Montrepose and Wiltwyck, whih probably were originally intended for the burial of white Kingstonians. Community efforts to remove overgrown nature have revealed numbers of gravestones from the second half of the nineteenth century to the 1980’s, often marking the graves of Civil War and World War Veterens. Some Civil War gravestones were probably lost in May 1918 when vandals took some twenty-six monuments from the graves of Civil War soldiers and hurled them down the embankment, while ruining fifteen other markers. Many in the Kingston community were outraged by this vandalism. Sadly, the graves of most of Kingston’s nine-teenth-century African American population are now unmarked.