Berea community honors African-American Civil War soldiers in dedication ceremony

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A little over a year ago, Bill Williams and Sharyn Mitchell started their own research, discovering there are 65 Civil War Soldiers buried in Berea Cemetery – several still without headstones – and finding out more Union Soldiers are laid to rest here than in any other Madison County Cemetery.

“It seems like today, people can tell you about their grandparents and maybe their great grandparents. But go back any further than that, and people can’t really tell you because they’ve never really looked it up,” said Bill Williams.

“I am the great, great grandson of Horace Yates,” Anthony Brooks, a decedent of a Union Soldier said.

One of the many African American Union Soldiers buried in the cemetery. When Anthony Brooks’ Great, Great Grandfather enlisted in the war, he received his uniform, weapon and most importantly his freedom.

“With history, you’ve got to take the good, bad, ugly and regrettable. You have to learn about what our ancestors went through. To understand what we have today. What we have to cherish today through their efforts and their suffering,” Williams said.

The Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863, but the freedom it offered to black men at the time didn’t extend to those in Kentucky.

May 1864 was the first month during the Civil War the United States opened its ranks to African Americans.

They then went on to serve in the Union, fighting for the freedom of all still enslaved.

The Madison County community is making sure the soldiers who fought for freedom in 1864 are still remembered today.

There are also now three plaques in the cemetery. They detail the Grand Army of the Republic, The Women’s Relief Corps, and the Roll Call of the 65 soldiers.

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