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Originally published: 2014-03-27 14:44:02
Last modified: 2014-03-27 14:44:02

Our View: Revealing Boone's historical past

A significant portion of Boone's history has been buried for more than 160 years, and the time to act is now to ensure that it stays that way.

A recent presentation by an Appalachian State University professor of anthropology revealed both disturbing and encouraging research into the Jordan Councill Cemetery, a plot of land near downtown Boone that is noted for graves dating to the mid-18th century of both black and white residents, and especially the gravesites of slaves.

With its "West" (white) and "East" (black) sections, the Councill Cemetery contains links to our past that are tangible and recoverable -- the availability of such primary resources is not always so readily available, even if many of the gravesides are unmarked and at this time unknown. 

Indeed, a ground-penetrating radar study in 2007 indicated 20 undisturbed graves in one area, but any markings that may have lead to identification have long since been removed or destroyed.

Yet current encroachment by private and commercial ventures, and the area's popular recreational use by students markedly threatens the integrity of the cemetery and, by default, an important chapter in Boone history. 

Jordan Councill Cemetery is one of the most important historical areas of our county. Couple this with its intended original purpose, and respect is due. 

As a Watauga Democrat story March 23 ("Saving History) and a letter to the editor today ("Councill Cemetery Confusion") indicate, what we know about this area now is confusing and often contradictory. 

ASU faculty members offered the resources of staff and students toward preservation and documentation during a meeting of the Junaluska Heritage Association March 20. Such a partnership is one to be promoted and acted upon as we work as a community to unearth our historic past.