According to Mansfield city records, the 2.5-acre Mansfield Community Cemetery (formerly known as “The Old ‘Colored’ Graveyard” until its recent renaming), dates to the early 1870s and resides on land believed to be donated by Ralph Man, half of the pair of men who founded the town. The cemetery designated for African Americans was not particularly organized, with graves, headstones, and rocks placed wherever the family wanted them, in most cases. The fence still stands that has divided the “White” side of the cemetery from the “Black” side of the cemetery, which is still used for burials.
In 2010, Boy Scouts from Troop #1703 were doing an Eagle Scout Project and came across almost thirty unmarked graves from long ago. Some were only marked with bent and rusted metal; others by stones.
Bethlehem Baptist Church was able to raise $50,000 of cash and in-kind donations to pave the road, install a brick and wrought iron dedication fence, and construct the interment pavilion. On June 19th, 2011, the church hosted a “Unified Weekend”, which included a special Juneteenth celebration at McClendon Park West, a showing of the critically acclaimed film by John Howard Griffin, “Black Like Me”, followed by a community-wide church service and dedication of the MCC Pavilion and Fence.
Each Year on Good Friday, BBC and the Mansfield community come together to clean up the cemetery. Bethlehem Baptist Church has a Mansfield Community Cemetery Board, which is currently at work completing documents for a historical marker and is in negotiations with several companies to do a geological plat and survey for the cemetery. If you would like to donate to the effort, please do so here. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact the church office.