Archaeologists confirmed on Wednesday that they discovered 258 more graves from a destroyed African American cemetery beneath a Clearwater business property and broadening out to the adjoining paved road.
The overall number of unearthed graves from the St. Matthews Baptist Church Cemetery now stands at 328.
Erin McKendry, senior archaeologist with Cardno, presented the findings at the Clearwater African American Cemeteries Memorial Committee meeting, which was hosted by the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas Branch of the NAACP.
The St. Matthews Baptist Church Cemetery opened in 1902 and remained open until the 1940s. According to researchers, the church sold the property for $15,000 in the mid 1950s due to land development pressures.
According to records, the new owner flipped the land a few years later and sold it for $115,000.
Matt Crum, president of FrankCrum, previously told 10 Tampa Bay that his family had no knowledge of any burials on the land. When he first learned of the likelihood of graves on his family’s property, he stated that he was willing to go to any length to uncover the truth and right the wrongs done in the past.
“To me it’s the next logical step, to find out, you know, what the perimeter of the old cemetery was, how many possible remains we’re talking about,” Matt Crum told 10 Tampa Bay in May 2021. “And then we can start having a conversation with all stakeholders to say, ‘okay well what do we do now.’”
According to the Clearwater African American Cemeteries Memorial Committee, they are attempting to figure out how to recognize those entombed in the destroyed cemetery. The Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP is collaborating with the committee, the city of Clearwater, and FrankCrum to find solutions.