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Search may be hindered for 400+ Black graves likely buried under homes, church land in East Tampa

The St. Joseph Aid cemetery served Black Americans during the Jim Crow era but has disappeared from record. Today, four homes and a parking lot cover the site.

Emerald Morrow

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Published: 2:18 PM EDT May 3, 2022
Updated: 11:34 PM EDT May 3, 2022

Lloyd Sesler says he always wondered what happened to the cemetery along North 34th Street near the Greater Mt. Carmel AME Church in East Tampa.

“We used to travel through it and saw a lot of headstones, but don’t know what happened to them,” he said.

Today, the 87-year-old questions if graves are still there.

Harold Evans remember seeing the cemetery as a child and wonders the same.

"I never found out what happened to those tombstones...because they started to build homes there," he said. 

For nearly three years, archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of graves from African American cemeteries that have been destroyed and erased across the Tampa Bay area.

The mystery surrounding the St. Joseph Aid Cemetery, also known as the Montana City Cemetery, could lead to the discovery of at least 400 more.