The newly emancipated slaves settled what was known as “rough lands,” mostly rocky uplands. Despite the difficulty in transforming the land into a habitable area, they were able to establish a thriving community, co-existing with their nearby white neighbors. Residents of this community were not rich, yet their close-knit families would go on to form the strong foundations of a support network that helped protect members from hardships. Over the decades, the community continued to grow from these foundations, reaching around two hundred members by 1860. The community featured many houses, a one-room schoolhouse, a church, and a six-acre cemetery.
The cemetery in the community, commonly known as “Stony Hills Cemetery” features two hundred known graves, but many believe there could be as many as four hundred graves. Because fieldstones were often used to mark the graves, it is hard to determine what was intended as a grave marker and what stones were naturally occurring. Most of the people in the community could not afford to have an engraved headstone for their family member. Many stones (with the exception of seven) have no inscriptions, making it difficult to determine the total number of burial sites.
The seven inscribed headstones are mostly associated with men that fought for the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865). It is believed that anywhere from 32-34 men enlisted, mostly with Connecticut's 29th Colored Infantry, but only seven inscribed headstones stand in the cemetery; “and four of these are standard federal markers issued to veterans of the Civil War.”4 The additional three marked stones are assumed to belong to a couple and the last most likely belonging to a labor organization employee by the name of Harvey Seymour.
Other factors for the uncertainty of the number of graves include issues over land ownership, vegetation overgrowth and poor upkeep of the cemetery, and possible looting's from the site over the years. Many work to find a resolution for the site today in order to maintain and preserve what is left.