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Mount Olive Cemetery

Wilmington, Delaware


Cemetery Names

The burial location indicated in the Delaware Death records is usually clearly listed as 'Mount Olive'. 

In earlier records, though, various references appear. Even though these are alternate names, at least one person has been identified in Mount Olive where the burial location is indicated by a different name or description. 

A text extract of the earliest state-wide Delaware death records  which mention African-Americans (including enslaved persons) has been included here to assist in family history research. These earliest records do not reference cemeteries by name. Several persons mentioned in this file do have relatives buried in St. Peters.
From 1872 - 1885, burials appear at the cemetery identified as '12th and French', 'Old Union' and 'Old AUMP'.  These burials are included in the Union listing. The Lockman family, for example,  has members buried in Union Cemetery, St. Peters Cemetery and Mount Olive. Other early cemeteries of interest for African-American genealogy include the Baptist cemetery at 10th and King St; Delaware City, Pigeon Run, Old Cathedral, Wilmington and Brandywine, Mt. Zion, Silverbrook and the public burials grounds (these include New Castle County Cemetery, Poor House, Alms House and Potters Field).

Between 1885 and 1895, the most active cemeteries in the Wilmington area include St. Peters, Union, Ezion, old Baptist and Mount Zion.

After 1895, Mount Zion becomes the most active cemetery; followed by St. Peters. No further mention in the records appears for Union, old Union or Ezion.

Although other cemeteries (Old Swedes, Wilmington and Brandywine, old Cathedral, Cathedral) are shown in Wilmington-area maps (city directories or local play maps) - none of the African-American cemeteries are shown on any historic map located so far. The 1868 map of Christiana district shows 3 small dots labeled as 'Aff Cem' on the city line.

Text files - Wilmington cemeteries

Earliest Delaware Burials - no cemetery listed
Old Union cemetery (12th above French) and Union Cemetery (near 2nd and Union)
Ezion


There was a caretakers house on the property from 1914 until after 1939. Undoubtedly both burial records and plot maps were kept at that time. If anyone knows of the existence of these records and would like to help reconstruct the cemetery records, please contact me.

Undertakers who served families at St. Peters and Mount Olive include:
L. W. Palmer
Joseph Bass
S.V.B. Carty
Wm. E Grinnage
Annie Brierly
Ed R Bell
Wm. E Grey
Wm Gumby


1861

Mother AUMP Church purchases land for a cemetery. Burials prior to this date may have been at the old Union Cemetery, at French above 12th Street. Several early death records refer to American Union cemetery. (text file - Union Cemetery)


American Union

1868

A map of Christiana - Centerville shows three dots, apparently labeled as Aff. Cem - one west of Front and Union and two east of Front and Union; south of Pyle's property.

If the dots represent early cemeteries where St. Peters and Ezion grew; was there a cemetery west of Front and Union?
1868 cemeteries

1870 - St. Peters - an historic moment

St. Peter's African Union Methodist Protestant Church, was founded by Rev. E. H. Chippey who preached on a platform in a graveyard on Union street and built their first church in 1870. (History of the State of Delaware, vol 2, pg 35e, pg 793. Henry Clay Conrad - available at www.ebooksread.com)

Death Records in the period 1870 - 1890 mention burial locations:
St. Peters (included in this site)
Front and Union (included in this site)
Union at 12th and French (included in a text file)
Ezion (2nd and Union - included in a text file)
 Mt. Zion
Baptist Cemetery (10th and King)
1870 Wilmington City Directory No specific African-American cemeteries are mentioned. Churches include:
African Union, French above 8th
Union American, French above 12th
E. Zion, 9th and French
Wesleyan Union, Poplar above 5th
Cemeteries which appear in the maps and city directories include "old" Cathedral (also called St. Peter's RC), Wilmington and Brandywine, Cathedral, Old Swedes and Riverview.

1879/80 Wilmington City Directory   


Union American, 12th above French. The burial ground identified as 'Old Union' is located at 12th and French.

(text file - Union Cemetery)

No specific mention of African-American cemeteries appears. Churches mentioned include:

Union American, French above 12th
Mount Olive Chapel, Poplar above 5th
St. Peters Chapel, Second above Union
Ezion M.E. Church, Ninth and French

African Union, French above 8th - this is the original cemetery where Peter Spencer was buried. Referred to as AU Churchyard in burial records.
819 French St

Old Union

French Above 12th

1879 Wilmington City Directory

St. Peter's Chapel . 2nd above Union. St.

The location of St. Peter's cemetery is refered to as '2nd and Union' or 'Front and Union', but is not mentioned in the city directory

Front and Union
1884Cemeteries named in the Wilmington area death records include:
St. Peters (Front and Union, 2nd and Union)
Mt. Zion
Union or Old Union (12th and French)
Baptist (10th and King)
Ezion

1884 Wilmington City Directory

St. Peter's Cemetery - located between Front and Second; and Union and Pyle

Most African-American cemeteries do not appear in the city directory.

Ezion Cemetery - burial ground of the Ezion M.E. Church. Located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyle's Lane

(text file - Ezion)



St. Peters
Ezion
1890 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - Burial ground of Ezion M.E. Church, located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyle's LaneNo mention of St. Peters or Union Cemetery
1895 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - Burial ground of Ezion M.E. Church, located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyle's LaneNo mention of St. Peters or Union Cemetery

1898/99 Wilmington City Directory

UNION (colored) - West of Union on Pyles lane from Lancaster to Second St.  (no reference to St. Peters)

Because 'Union Cemetery' may refer to either the cemetery located on French above 12th or St. Peters (and some stones have been located in Mt. Olive from burials listed as 'Union' cemetery, a text extract of burials indicated as 'Union' cemetery is available. 
Union Cemetery

1898/99 Wilmington City Directory

EZION cemetery - Burial Ground of Ezion M.E. Church; located between Second and Third; and Union and Pyle's Lane.

(text file - Ezion)
Ezion Cemetery
1899 - 1914
Both Mount Olive and St. Peters are active
In burial records between 1899 and 1914, both St. Peters and Mount Olive are named as active cemeteries.

References to 'old Union' cemetery (12th and French) are not found.
1905 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyles' Lane.
Union (colored) - West of Union on Grant, from Lancaster Ave to 2nd St
1910 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyles' Lane.
Union (colored) - West of Union on Grant, from Lancaster Ave to 2nd St
1910 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyles' Lane.
Union (colored) - West of Union on Grant, from Lancaster Ave to 2nd St

1914 - Cemetery Move

General Contractor
Gilpin Ave
May 26 1914

Union Church of African Members
I will move all the bodies of the graves of St Peters Cemerty at Front and Union Sts and bury them in Mt. Olive Cemetery, for the sum of two thousand four hundred and fifty dollars.
William Campbell

Contracts dated Jun 1914 - work to be completed within four months. Plain pine boxes were to be provided if original coffins not intact; all headstones, footstones, markers and ornaments to be moved and re-interred

St. Peters and Ezion were adjacent cemeteries. 

It is possible that some burials from Ezion were re-interred in Mount Olive at that time.

1919 Wilmington City DirectoryEzion Cemetery - located between 2nd and 3rd and Union and Pyles' Lane.
Union (colored) - West of Union on Grant, from Lancaster Ave to 2nd St
The city directory still lists both cemeteries at these locations.
1939 - WPA (Works Progess Administration)Surveys are made of Mount Olive Cemetery (459 stones and plots identified) and old Union Cemetery (5 stones identified)
BAPTIST
An African-American burial ground was located on King St. above 10th. It appears in records 1881 - 1890. It is referred to as 'Baptist Burying Ground' (col).
Baptist Burying Ground
Mount Olive appears in death records from about 1910 to 1984.

Some burial records are unclear - two places of burial appear on this death record

Two cemeteries
NOTES:According to local neighbors, many coffins were found during the construction of  Bancroft Parkway. In 1972, a supermarket was renovated at 2nd and Union, and additional burials were discovered during the renovation. In 1988-89, the old Union Cemetery at 12th and French was moved during construction of the MBNA complex downtown.



1895 map of Wilmington - although several African-American cemeteries were active, they are not noted on this historic map. Approximate locations are shown

Front, Union, 2nd, 3rd
1895 St. Peters

French above 12th, King above 10th
Old Union










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