Fence Rebuilt at Historic Rosewood African-American Cemetery

Social IssuesMinority GroupsDeathRenovationHurricane Ike (2008)Meteorological DisastersHurricanes and Tropical Storms

GALVESTON, TX - Dozens of Galveston and Houston area volunteers turned out to rebuild a 300-foot fence at the island's historic African-American Rosewood Cemetery on March 20.

The beautiful split-rail fence was erected in just five hours as volunteers worked rapidly to beat an approaching storm front and what turned out to be hours of afternoon rain.

Volunteers included members of the following groups: Galveston Historical Foundation African-American Heritage Committee; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Galveston Alumni Chapter; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Galveston Alumni Chapter; the Galveston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Galveston chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Galveston Boys Rites of Passage and Mentoring; members of Galveston Boy Scout Troop 124 and their parents and Scoutmaster, Jeff Antonelli; and members and leaders of BSA Venture Crew 33.

The cemetery, founded in 1911, was donated to Galveston Historical Foundation in 2006 by developers Judy and John Saracco.

The fence built Saturday replaced one the construction of which was organized by Galvestonian Sean Moran as his Boy Scout Eagle project in January 2008. Hurricane Ike destroyed the fence nine months later. Moran raised more money this year and, along with GHF African-American Heritage Committee member Tommie Boudreaux, recruited volunteers to rebuild the fence at Rosewood Saturday.

"I'm so proud that so many people and groups came forward to help begin the restoration of Rosewood Cemetery," Boudreaux said. "It was very heartwarming to see the young men from the Boys Rites of Passage group helping to preserve their own heritage."

411 graves are listed in records as being located at Rosewood. Today, markers exist for only around 20. The last known burial date is listed as 1944. The cemetery was founded by an association of African-American citizens but it fell into disuse in the 1940s and for many years was overgrown with weeds and brush.

"I'm very proud that we got the fence rebuilt," said Moran, 19, now a University of Texas-Austin freshman and a member of Venture Crew 33. "I really appreciate all the help we got from volunteers both times we built the fence."

Moran was a member of Galveston Boy Scout Troop 124 when he did his Eagle project and attained Eagle Rank in August 2008, a month before Ike struck. The troop was sponsored by St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church at the time but now meets at Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church because St. Peter's was destroyed by Hurricane Ike.

Saturday's work included volunteers trimming trees and picking up trash on the property, which GHF now has mowed and trimmed regularly.

People interested in learning more about the cemetery can do so by visiting GHF's website at www.galvestonhistory.org. Donations for the restoration of the cemetery, including excavation for the many headstones believed to have been covered up by earth over the decades, still are needed.

Donations can be sent to: Galveston Historical Foundation, Attn: Brian Davis, Rosewood Cemetery Fund, 502 20th St., Galveston, TX 77550.

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