Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Buried Among Enemies

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Pierce City apologizes for dark past, refuses to pay for moving remains
Associated Press

PIERCE CITY, Mo. (AP) -- More than 100 years after this southwest Missouri community's entire black population was run out of town by angry white mobs, city officials have apologized for the dark chapter in local history.

But they're drawing the line at paying to move the remains of a Civil War veteran who died three years before the Aug. 19, 1901, riots and lynching that forced his family to flee to Springfield, The Monett Times reported.

Charles and James Brown of St. Louis were researching their family's history when they learned of the 1901 events in Pierce City. They also discovered that their great-grandfather, James Cobb Sr., was buried in a cemetery there.

"It causes the family grief to think of him down there; alone, in a hostile, unrepentant environment, where he and members of his race were hated, maltreated, and where many were run out of town for nothing more than being black," Charles Brown wrote in a letter to Pierce City Mayor Mark Peters.


Cobb's remains were unearthed on June 2 and taken to a cemetery in Springfield where other family members are buried. Afterward, Brown requested that Pierce City -- which remains a largely white community -- apologize for its treatment of blacks and pay the costs of moving Cobb and for a tombstone to mark his new grave.


Peters, in his response to Brown's letter, agreed the community owed an apology for the atrocities committed on its former black residents -- but not any money.


[Read the whole story]

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