WINDHAM — A group of four buried in a local cemetery with no names engraved on headstones were honored Saturday with a new historical marker.
The town’s African American Committee, along with the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, unveiled a new historic plaque Saturday to commemorate the lives of three men — Pompey, Jeffry, Peter Thomas — and one woman, Rose, all honored for the growth and prosperity of the Windham community.
The process got its start when Shelley Walcott, a member of the Windham committee, read an article about unmarked graves of enslaved African Americans being discovered in the local Cemetery on the Hill.
That discovery was due to extensive research done by local historian Brad Dinsmore.
“I have wondered about the history of blacks in Windham,” Walcott said at the ceremony Saturday.
The plaque unveiled Saturday will eventually find a permanent place atop a granite monument at the cemetery.
The 1883 “History of Windham” states that they were buried “in that part of the original cemetery on the hill in the southeasterly corner, near the highway.”
Dinsmore spoke at the ceremony Saturday, saying the fact the graves were unmarked was “a moral travesty.”
“And it’s literally a grave injustice,” Dinsmore said. “But our town is going to rectify this today.”
Dinsmore continued, saying the new marker will tell their stories and will be a permanent reminder of their names and their roles in shaping Windham’s history.
The new plaque to be placed at the cemetery reads that Pompey and Jeffry, both skilled artisans, were hired out by their enslaver to clear land for Windham’s early farms.
“Pompey was also hired out to work on the old town meeting house located in this cemetery. They and other enslaved men and women helped to build the town of Windham,” the plaque reads.
Walcott said making the discoveries and now paying tribute to those lying in unmarked graves is a way to make sure the past is appreciated and honored.
“Black lives in the town of Windham do matter,” she said.