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African Bethel Cemetery

Greenville Road; Pleasant Lake, Greenville, Nova Scotia, B5A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/11/07

The African Bethel Cemetery, Greenville, Yarmouth, NS, 2008. Many markers have been destroyed or lost.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2008
General View
Grave markers for Isaac and Lucinda Chandler, early settlers in Greenville, in the African Bethel Cemetery, Greenville, Yarmouth, NS, 2008.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2008
Chandler Marker
Headstone for Rev. James E. Jackson, an early minister in the community, leaning against a tree in the African Bethel Cemetery, Greenville, Yarmouth, NS, 2008.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2008
Headstone for Rev. Jackson

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1849/01/01 to 1849/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/13

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.

Heritage Value

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

Character-Defining Elements

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.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

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




Additional Information

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

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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