Links and documents
1849/01/01 to 1849/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The African Bethel Cemetery was the first burial ground established in the rural, predominantly Black community of Greenville, Nova Scotia. It is located on the south side of the Greenville Road about four tenths of a kilometre west of the Annis River bridge. Municipal heritage designation applies to the entire lot and the remaining markers.
The African Bethel Cemetery is valued as the first burial ground to be established in the predominantly Black community of Greenville, which was historically known as Salmon River; and as being the burial place of more than eighty-five residents of the area, ancestors of present day residents. It is also valued for its few remaining grave markers, most of which bear the names of early Black settlers of the area.
The African Bethel Church and Cemetery were established on this site in 1849. The church was destroyed by fire within a few years of its construction, however the cemetery continued to be used until 1949. As with the other old cemetery in the community, the Greenville Church Cemetery, there were no records kept until 1891 when a local undertaking firm began keeping funeral records. The name of only one person buried here previous to 1891, in 1857, is known from a mention in a local newspaper; however it is known that more burials took place prior to 1891.
Existing funeral records name eighty-five persons buried here, the majority of whom were Black, but there are also seventeen known Caucasian people listed, who were residents of the neighbouring community of Pleasant Lake. This cemetery is very near the present boundary between the villages of Greenville and Pleasant Lake, which were both part of the earlier, larger community of Salmon River. Pleasant Lake has traditionally been a Caucasian communit, a few of whom were buried here. As with the other old cemetery in this community, a large percentage of the known burials were children under ten years of age, an indication of the very high mortality rate of young children in the 1800s and early 1900s. There are still many descendants of those buried here living in the community.
Source: Registered Heritage Property files: African Bethel Cemetery; located at the Heritage Office, 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS B5A 1G2
The character-defining elements of the African Bethel Cemetery include:
- location on south side of Greenville Road in Greenville;
- entirely grass covered on level ground with no marked avenues;
- all remaining markers and remnants of markers;
- proximity to Annis River to the east.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
1949/01/01 to 1949/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Municipal Heritage Property files located at the Heritage Office, 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, B5A 1G2
Cross-Reference to Collection