Photo by Loy Elliott

Lincoln Colored Cemetery

Lincoln Colored Cemetery has been maintained by Vietnam Veterans of the Mechanicsburg, PA Area since March of 1998. This peaceful ground is the resting place for 88 remains of African American decent of which there are 12 Civil War soldiers. Names, and info for some, are as follows:

  1. BABCOCK, RANSON E.
  2. BERRY, JOSEPH
  3. BRIDGET, WILLIAM
  4. BUTLER, HENRY, CO. D / 22ND U. S. C. T.
  5. COOK, ENOCH S., 1820-1869 / CAROLINE COOK / 1822-1905
  6. HOWARD, RICHARD, PRIVATE CO. G. 45 REG. U.S. COL. TROOPS. / DIED SEPT. 2. 1895
  7. JACKSON, REUBEN, MAR. 15, 1828 / JULY 22, 1909
  8. PINKNEY, J.W.
  9. POPE, WILLIAM, PRIVATE CO. B. 22 REGT. / U. S. COL. INF. VOLS / DIED JULY 1, 1902 / AGED 72 YEARS
  10. RILEY, GEORGE W. , MAY 16, 1887. / AGED / 32 YRS. & 9 / MO. / ASLEEP IN JESUS
  11. SPRIGGS, JAMES, DIED / May 25, 1875 / Aged / 56 yrs. 1 mo. / &19 ds
  12. WILLIAMS, JOHN

Tradition holds that this cemetery was started expressly for use by slaves who escaped to the north via the underground railroad. The dates of burials and the fact that several soldier(s) from “colored” regiments are buried here tend to support this belief. Burials range in date from 1862 to 1955. A rumor suggests that at least some of these graves were moved from a cemetery that was originally located on West St. in Mechanicsburg. It was in the area where Simpson St and Main St come together.

As you stand here in the Lincoln Colored Cemetery, you can view South Mountain. Just imagine a battle taking place in 1862. After invading Maryland in September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army to march on and invest Harpers Ferry. The Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain. On September 14, pitched battles were fought for possession of the South Mountain passes: Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps. By dusk the Confederate defenders were driven back, suffering severe casualties, and McClellan was in position to destroy Lee’s army before it could regroup. McClellan’s limited activity on September 15 after his victory at South Mountain, however, condemned the garrison at Harper’s Ferry to capture and gave Lee time to unite his scattered divisions at Sharpsburg. Union general Jesse Reno and Confederate general Samuel Garland, Jr., were killed at South Mountain.

 

To our knowledge, the first African American was buried in this cemetery in 1862. If you look across the field opposite South Mountain, you will see the statue in Gates of Heaven cemetery. The “Colored” folks were not allowed to be buried there, so they found this spot nearby and formed this cemetery. A monument is constructed at the flag pole here in memory of our US Colored Troops. The flags are replaced at least once per year and are lighted by dusk to dawn solar lights.

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