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Rouse Plantation



Rouse Plantation Cemetery

Cemetery = Rouse Plantation Cemetery
Vicinity = Sopchoppy NW
Status = abandoned
Community = unknown
GPS Location
S-T-R Location
Directions
30°5’11.53” X84°30’30.74”
SW¼ Sec 35, 4S, 3W
S border of Persimmon Rd. at 195 and 205

Nelson Martin, who lives in the territory of old Greenough, points out a woodlot of relatively old growth remaining amid old fields and pastures in the old Rouse Plantation along Persimmon Rd. He says that Braxton Barwick (1911-1983), a descendant of the Barwicks whose plantation lay just east, identified this site as an "Indian graveyard". This woodlot at 205 Persimmon Rd. has an elongated configuration stretching south from the road. Ex-cropland lies immediately east and almost immediately west. The owner of the mostly cleared land immediately west of and upslope from this woodlot says that some treecover preserved in the northeast corner of her property corresponds to what she has heard may be the site of a graveyard. A live oak and two or three laurel or water oaks remain there in the northeast corner of the tract, and two cedars stand a little west and upslope. That property is 195 Persimmon Rd.

Evidently a good many people definitely identify this place in the old Rouse lands as a graveyard, having long understood that it was spared from cultivation for that reason. Most have the sentience that it is a graveyard of African American slaves of the plantations. Both Warren Harden and his brother Ronnie Harden, lifelong residents of the area, say they know that the brothers Jennings Rouse (1900-1963) and Wilmer Rouse (1902-1971) regarded this wooded spot in the midst of the fields as a graveyard. It seems to Ronnie Harden that the Rouses may have indicated that whites and African Americans both were buried there. Neither of the Hardens recalls particular statements from the Rouses, though, and neither has ever known any grave markers at the place.

Ronnie Harden has in the past walked around in the wooded place he's always considered the graveyard. He points without doubt to the northeast corner of the tract at 195 Persimmon Rd., with those several remaining oaks that the present owner speaks of. He says that much of the treecover has now been removed, but that those oaks remaining mark the site of the graveyard. Mr. Harden thinks that the graveyard may lie both east and west of a wire fence now marking the line between this tract and the adjoining one (205 Persimmon Rd.) that still has thicker hammock growth; he is certain, however, that the partly cleared corner of the first identifies with the place he considers a graveyard. He says that the spared wooded spot did not go as far west as the two cedars standing upslope.

Coordinates fixed by GPS at the north line of the property at 195 Persimmon Rd., within 10 yards or so north of the indicated treecover inside the property, are:

30° 5' 11.53" -X- 84°30' 30.74"

An isolated wooded spot appearing stark amid the fields on a 1937 aerial picture in the US Forest Service files appears to correspond to this site (this could be checked accurately by the GPS coordinates above).

Claxton Vause, Jr., (b.1933) of Sopchoppy says that all through his years of dove hunting in the Rouse fields it was his understanding that a certain place of treecover surrounded by the fields, this along the present-day Persimmon Rd., had been spared because it was an African American graveyard. He associates the Rouse brothers mentioned above with his information, but does not recall particular statements. Mr. Vause walked around or perhaps into this treecover many times, but does not recall any grave markers or other visual evidence of graves.

Others at Greenough have heard that this site, or some site in the vicinity (without specification), is a "slave graveyard".  None mention ever seeing any documentation or hearing any very specific testimony. Nelson Martin thinks that a previous owner of the tract 205 Persimmon Rd., which may contain some of the graveyard, may have gotten some information supporting the claim. His present address, perhaps someplace downstate, is not known to Mr. Martin.

People around Sopchoppy have made scant and casual talk of an "Indian" or slave burial place in the fields of the Rouse Plantation from the time of subdivision of the several-hundred-acre tract in the 1960's. However, there may have been nothing written on the matter. An article on Greenough and William C. (Bill) Rouse (1863-1936) in Wakulla Digest November 1999 gives some information on the plantation but does not mention a graveyard within. It is evident that some of the African American slaves counted in slave censuses of Wakulla County were on this tract, and likely that they and their descendents lived here for many years after the time of slavery.


Date of site report narrative - May 2002

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