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8 unmarked graves occupy a busy intersection in Naples

Posted at 12:17 AM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 00:17:50-04

NAPLES, Fla. — UPDATE :

As of this morning The Collier County Museum Facilities Maintenance has made a temporary repair to the pillars. At this time the museum is working to permanently repair the pillars.

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Markers for the unknown, along the intersection of Pine Ridge Road and Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples, stand stone pillars for African Americans who resided in Collier County in the 1920s and early 40s. These pillars known as “Plot N” were part of Rosemary Cemetery just one block away. However, due to segregation, and development, the alleged 7 adults and 1 child rest here, along this busy street.

Fred Saunders of Naples did some research finding out who might be buried underneath.

“ I stumbled across this story researching the railroads that used to run down here. The legend was that these were railroad workers that were buried alongside the railroad that now Goodlette-Frank Road. 80, 90, 100 years later it’s just a grass strip with four poles sitting there” said Fred Saunders.

Upset by the damage and lack of care of this sight Saunders says he wants answers.

“But what we do know is there there are pioneers that have been there for almost 100 years, and there is nothing but 4 concrete poles, 2 of them are dilapidated and laying in the bushes now,” said Saunders.

We reached out to Collier County museums for those answers, providing a place map of graves along us 41, they tell us, they are aware of the history that lies beneath.

“ Towards the end of May our staff went to check on Rosemary Cemetery, and drove around the corner and saw that those markers had been damaged, hit by a car a piece of lawn equipment or something,” said Amanda Townsend, Director of Collier County Museums.

Townsend says they have sent staff out to try and repair the damage.

“And what happened is when they went to straighten them, they weren’t just bent over but they were in fact broken off. So they staff laid them to the side until we can figure out the best way to repair them” said Townsend.

Townsend says at this time the land is privately owned and The Collier County Museum is working to gain ownership, but Saunders says, that's not enough, he wants pillars repaired and recognized properly.

“We need to mark this off, this need to be documented, researched, and if we can find out who is there let’s do that, but if nothing else let’s respect them from here on out,” said Fred Saunders.