Harriet Scott’s burial site is located
By Todd C. Frankel</A>
Below is the link to the story.
Here is the story.
Somewhere in a
surrounded by trash, where toppled tombstones poke through the brush, lies a legend of history.
Harriet Scott, it turns out, is buried here, somewhere, at
For years, no one knew where she lay. They were uncertain even of when she died. Some assumed she rested next to her husband, Dred Scott. His grave can be found at a tidy, well-marked spot in another
Dred Scott's grave has two stones, noting his landmark court case, which helped spark the Civil War. There's a stone for Harriet Scott there, too, adding to the confusion.
But in a neglected, anonymous place about four miles away rests Harriet
Scott - a famous St. Louisan in a city that reveres its past. She seemed destined to be lost to history, even as her star burns brighter with scholars who believe she was the driving force behind the decision to sue for freedom.
Then last week, researchers with the St. Louis County Library uncovered her location. They yelled with joy when they finally matched burial records with other bits of information. They believed they'd solved a 130-year-old mystery. It was not so simple.
Unbeknownst to them, another small group of researchers had discovered her grave three years earlier. They never told anyone, not even descendants of the Scotts, some of whom still live in the
"I hadn't heard. I didn't know," said Marcy Madison, of Ballwin, whose
husband is Dred and Harriet Scott's great-grandson. "We've been wondering where she was. No one knew."
The hunt begins with Etta Daniels.
She dug into burial records. That alone took a year.
She never suspected she'd find Harriet Scott.
"Like everybody else," said Daniels, 63, "I thought she was buried next to Dred."
Daniels worked with Brett Rogers, a historian from
Midway through the document,
It was a fact shared with few people beyond the proposal. And there the
Tim Baumann, a
Daniels said she and others were overwhelmed just mowing the grass and
clearing brush at
limited results, the volunteer group's numbers dwindled from 13 to 2.
Telling the world about Harriet Scott felt less pressing than saving the cemetery.
A second chance
So Harriet Scott seemed ready to slip back into history.
Then Ruth Ann Abels Hager began digging.
Hager is a reference specialist at the St. Louis County Library, working with the Julius K. Hunter & Friends African-American Research Collection. She helps trace family trees. Three weeks ago, she started preparing to teach a beginner's class on genealogy. She decided to track down the roots of Dred and Harriet Scott.
She found an entry in the city death registry for a "Harriet Scott." Date of death: June 17, 1876. She lived near the corner of Seventh and Locust Streets in modern-day downtown
Hager turned to city directories from the 1870s. In the 1874 volume, she tripped over a listing for "Scott, Harriet" that noted that she was the widow of Dred Scott.
"I kept thinking, 'This can't be happening,'" Hager said.
The final piece came Tuesday afternoon. From her office on the fifth floor of the library's main branch, Hager phoned the St. Louis Genealogical Society to see if they had
"All I know is, we went bonkers," Hager said.
Hager confirmed the information with the
National Park Service historian. Hager hopes her find will draw the
attention of a wider audience, especially with next year being the 150th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision.
History has largely minimized Harriet Scott's role in the landmark lawsuit. Although both she and her husband filed claims for freedom, her lawsuit was combined with Dred Scott's, leading to the action titled Scott v. Emerson.
But scholars such as
"I don't think there'd be a lawsuit if it weren't for Harriet," VanderVelde
Dred Scott was old, poor and sick with tuberculosis when the suit was
filed. Harriet Scott was the one with reason to pursue freedom through the courts - slavery followed the mother's line, and she had two young
daughters, VanderVelde said. "This is a person who should be revered. She held this case together."
The Scotts lost the case after an 11-year legal battle, culminating in a Supreme Court decision that divided the country. Then the Scotts' former masters purchased the family's freedom. Dred Scott died just nine months later. His grave at
On Friday, Daniels and Hager met at the library to compare notes. They
learned of each other's independent efforts only in recent days. There was no sense of competition.
"This is about only one thing: Harriet Scott," said Hager. "It's not about any of us. It's about Harriet's story, and it hasn't been told yet."
Daniels carried copies of the original burial record. In a flowery,
fountain-pen script, it noted that Harriet Scott was the 112th burial in the cemetery in 1876. Her grave cost $5 (one of the more expensive ones).
Still unknown is the precise spot of Harriet Scott's grave. She never had a marker. Records indicate that she is tucked in a large lot near the front. The lot has been reburied in the years since, with new graves on top of old ones.
Finding Harriet Scott could be impossible. But Daniels and Hager hope she will not be forgotten.
[<B>] firstname.lastname@example.org 314-340-8110[</B>]