Set in Stone

Set in Stone: Boone’s historic African-American cemetery gets overdue recognition
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The Junaluska community in Boone, which took shape in the mid nineteenth century, is thought to be one of WNC’s oldest black enclaves. The hamlet grew from a deeply religious outcrop of farming families to a thriving neighborhood—one somewhat separated from Boone as a whole, with its own businesses, social clubs, and even a baseball team. But in recent decades, the local black population has dwindled, and the community’s rich heritage was at risk of fading away.

Roberta Jackson of the Junaluska Heritage Association is committed to preserving that legacy and helped arrange the October 2017 placement of a marker at Junaluska’s historic cemetery. “After the last burial there in 1957, the cemetery fell into neglect,” she says, leaving little recognition for the some 160 souls who rest there.

With help from various local organizations and Austin & Barnes Funeral Home, a stone marker was installed for the interred, many of whom had been buried in poorly marked graves. At the same time, a barrier separating Junaluska’s black burial ground from a whites-only cemetery was removed. “This is important because it shows the town of Boone is concerned with everybody,” Jackson says, “and they’re willing to help bring this history to life.”

Photographs by Hayley Canal