Recently, Fourshee, Kim Fortner, Betty Wharton, Fred Wilson, LaVern Baker, Pat Rogers, Cadiz City Councilor Regina Wilkerson and Cadiz Renaissance Director Leida Underhill agreed to serve on the American American Memorial Committee.
Fourshee asked Cadiz Mayor Lyn Bailey to ask them to be on the committee, and all agreed to do so. He also stressed that he wants the whole community to take part and give input on the project.
“Together, we’re going to get this done,” Fourshee said. “The Renaissance Committee has been trying to make some plans for about a year … There’s really not a deadline. However long it takes us is how long it will take … And we’ll do it right.”
Bailey said he expects the committee to design the monument, develop a fund-raising plan and to contract with a monument company to install the monument. Back in October, he estimated that the memorial would probably be 6 – 8 feet high.
There are probably many businesses and individuals that would like to make contributions to the project, said Fourshee. He went on to say that he hopes the city’s African American community won’t feel like it has to support the project by itself.
“We would like to make sure that it’s everything that it can be,” Fourshee said. “The city wants to support it and make sure that it’s everything that it can be … We want something that is substantial, not something that’s just something you can get away with or get by with. We wanted something that is nice, big, impressive.”
Fourshee drew a sketch of what the memorial might look like, and it features landscaping, trees and a bench but stressed that he isn’t designing the project, and that it’s just a rough sketch to show the city council what it might look like.
The memorial committee will go to monument works and cemeteries and will look for features that might appeal to them, he added.
Fourshee said this is only the first part of a long-term restoration project for the cemetery that Cadiz Renaissance is undertaking.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, Fourshee and other Cadiz local were helped by students from Murray State University’s geoscience department, who helped to find unmarked graves using ground-penetrating radar. Simone Parker’s forensice class from Trigg County High School was also there.
At one of its previous meetings, the Cadiz City Council approved a plan from Cadiz Renaissance on Main to raise funds and place a memorial in East End Cemetery for the African Americans in unmarked graves there.
“Research conducted within the Kentucky State death certificates indicates that 56 African Americans were buried in East End in unmarked graves between 1911 and 1930,” Fourshee said in a press release.
However, he added that they don’t know how many were buried there before 1911 – the year the state first required death certificates.
Fourshee said Fortner is looking up death certificates and will stop in the 1940s because they believe there weren’t any unmarked graves dug there after World War II. He also said it could take her awhile, since death certificates are not sorted in any particular order.
Fourshee stated there are almost definitely unmarked graves in other cemeteries but said the reason they’re focusing on East End Cemetery is because it’s owned by the city and is within the purview of the Renaissance Committee.
Fourshee said he and other Renaissance members are doing more research to identify others that might have been buried there after 1930. He further explained that it was first established as the Thompson Family Graveyard in or around 1835, was owned by that family for about 30 years and was later purchased by the City of Cadiz, along with 5 acres, to form a city cemetery.
“This recognition is something that has been needed for a long time,” said Bailey. “With the present interest in history and in East End Cemetery, now is the right time to accomplish this mission.”
Fourshee said the committee will be asking members of the community if they know of family members or neighbors who are buried there who do not have a death certificate.
“We want to establish as complete a list of names as possible,” he said.