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Genealogy experts working to connect lost graves with living family members in Tampa

Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 30, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rue Lynn Galbraith loves what he does as a volunteer with the Florida Genealogical Society.

“It can become personal to me as I search for the family,” Galbraith said.

But now, his group has one of its most challenging missions ever.

They are trying to find living relatives of those buried at the forgotten Zion Cemetery that was recently rediscovered.

“It really surprised me that, how can you lose a cemetery,” Galbraith said.


Experts believe Zion was Tampa’s first African-American cemetery, with more than 800 people buried there.

But in the 1920s, buildings went over the grave sites along North Florida Avenue.

Many were just found at what is now a public housing complex.

“Not have the grave been lost in time. I think the people have been lost. And I think that’s the saddest thing,” Galbraith said.

The Genealogical Society is using census records and death certificates to identify who might be buried here.

Some progress has been made already, but this work will likely go on for years.

“I’m anxious to share their stories with people, so we can connect with the past,” Galbraith said.