Wyandotte County 4-H members recently held a cleanup at a cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas.
According to David Streit, who is a leader with a 4-H group, the 4-H members participated in a community service project on Oct. 12 as part of National 4-H Week.
The cemetery where the cleanup took place is known as Stoney Point Cemetery in Edwardsville, although it is not in the same neighborhood as another Stony Point area that is farther east in Kansas City, Kansas, in Wyandotte County. Streit said the cemetery is not really accessible by roads, but only from private property.
The cemetery had been abandoned at one point and was in need of a cleanup, according to Streit. Some headstones had fallen over and it was in need of repair, he said. He believes the last burials may have taken place there in the 1930s and 1940s. The cleanup was organized by Wyandotte County 4-H in conjunction with the city of Edwardsville and St. Martin in the Fields Church.
According to Streit, this cemetery in Edwardsville was founded by Junius Groves, a successful farmer known as the “potato king.”
Groves, who was born into slavery in 1859, was an Exoduster who settled in Edwardsville after traveling 500 miles on foot, according to Streit. He started as a sharecropper for John Williamson, and eventually saved enough money to purchase his own land.
In 1902 Groves was the single largest producer of potatoes in the world, earning the name, “potato king of the world,” Streit stated. He also was known as the first black millionaire west of the Mississippi River.
In 1886, Groves purchased an acre of rocky hillside for $1, which would become the Stoney Point Cemetery. It is thought that the white settlers of the time did not want blacks buried in the same cemetery, according to Streit.
Through their service project, the 4-H members learned about local history and historical figures such as Junius Groves, and honored the legacy of the people buried there, gave them dignity that is past due, and reflected on their own spiritual cleanup, Streit stated.
The 4-H group made a video of their cleanup project that is posted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV9bN_J0XuQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1ixbr16-snYPa08MjA7l6pTuwNeNUZD4PIn4ufgMqndFTXFmQlj3qYpcE .