DO YOU HAVE ANCESTORS WHO DIED IN WASHINGTON, DC, IN THE LATE 1800s? DO YOU KNOW WHERE THEY WERE BURIED?
The Walter Pierce Park Archaeological Team couldn’t find burial registers for the African American or Quaker cemeteries at Walter Pierce Park. To compile a list of who was buried there, we reviewed official District of Columbia death records, which denote the place of burial. The result of our research is the Walter Pierce Park Burials Database, containing nearly 8,500 names of those who were laid to rest in the cemeteries. To read or download the PDF, click on the Walter_Pierce_Park_Burials_Database.
The city of Washington began keeping official death records in 1855, in a large ledger called the “Interment Register.” In August 1874, DC began issuing individual death certificates, which contained more information than the earlier records. The Walter Pierce Park Burials Database identifies people by name, age, cause of death, length of time residing in the District of Columbia, the place of death (usually the home address), and other biographical information.
In the course of its research, the Walter Pierce Park Archaeological Team found very few city records documenting burials in the Quaker cemetery, which was founded in 1807, which was 48 years before the city began keeping death records. In addition to burials in the Quaker Friends Burial Ground and the African American Mt. Pleasant Plains Cemetery at Walter Pierce, the database includes burials in the African American Free Young Men’s Cemetery at 12th and V Streets NW, which was in operation between 1849 and 1870. The graves from the Free Young Men’s Cemetery were moved to Mt. Pleasant Plains in 1873.
CREATIVE SPELLINGS AND SOME GAPS IN THE RECORDS: If you’re looking for an ancestor or someone else in the database, we encourage you to use creative name spellings. Death certificates were filled out by doctors and undertakers, and misspellings sometimes occurred. In addition, there were large gaps in the city death records during the Civil War–specifically from June 1861 to June 1862, and from August 1862 to January 1866–causing the omission of an unknown number of burials.
The Walter Pierce Park Archaeological Team reviewed more than 75,000 death records at the District of Columbia Archives to document the nearly 8,500 burials in the database. We are extremely grateful for the help of DC archivists Ali Rahmaan and Bill Branch, who kept us on track through our months-long project.
WE ARE PROUD TO MEET THE DESCENDANTS OF THOSE WHO WERE BURIED IN THE WALTER PIERCE PARK CEMETERIES. IF YOU HAVE FOUND AN ANCESTOR OR HISTORICAL FIGURE YOU’VE BEEN SEEKING ON THE LIST OF BURIALS, PLEASE CONSIDER LEAVING A COMMENT!