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A Clearwater company wants a forgotten cemetery removed from its property

Human resources firm FrankCrum is asking the city to make plans to move the remains of 360 buried in an African-American cemetery found on its property.

The group has sent a letter to the city asking it to remove human remains from its property at 100 S. Missouri Ave., which sits on the cemetery for the African-American St. Mathews Baptist Church, which closed in the 1940s.
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Human resources firm FrankCrum is asking the city to make plans to move the remains of 360 buried in an African-American cemetery found on its property.

FrankCrum is working with the city to remove the human remains from a cemetery that closed in the 1940s.

A Clearwater company is asking the city to make plans to move the remains of 360 buried in an African-American cemetery found on its property.

The human resources firm FrankCrum group has sent a letter to the city asking it to remove human remains from its property at 100 S. Missouri Ave., which sits on the cemetery for the African-American St. Mathews Baptist Church, which closed in the 1940s.

The company bought the land not knowing about the existence of the cemetery,

RELATED: As Hillsborough County explores forgotten cemeteries, a national archive tracks lost Black graves

Former Clearwater/Upper Pinellas County NAACP President Zebbie Atkinson works with cemetery descendants. He says this is all part of a process of honoring those buried there and near the old Pinellas High School.

'We have gotten a historical marker at the North Greenwood Cemetery," Atkinson said. We're working on the historical marker now, for the St. Matthews cemetery site."

Atkinson said the situation is an example of how you can't bury bad history, you have to face it.

"And this, I think, is evidence of that," Atkinson said. "There were some things that happened. They might not have been the prettiest things that America wants to shine the light on. But in every city, in every state, there are a stories like this."

Atkinson said he has been working with ancestors of those still buried in the cemetery.

He said the company, city, and descendants are working together to move the remains to a new resting place. He says all that's needed now is agreeing who will pay for the move.

The forgotten cemetery is one of several across the state, including more than 40 unmarked cemeteries and burial grounds in Hillsborough County,

Corrected: July 11, 2023 at 11:27 AM EDT
This story has been corrected to show FrankCrum did not know about the cemetery's existence.
I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.