African American and Strangers Graveyards

St. Philips Heritage Center

Memorial Wall

The Strangers’ Graveyard
The Strangers’ Graveyard was used between 1775 and 1815 for the burial of non-Moravians.  In 1816, as a manifestation of increasing segregation in the Salem community, the Strangers’ Graveyard became the “Negro God’s Acre.”

The African American Graveyard
The graveyard was called by several names in the Moravian records, including “Negro God’s Acre” before use of it was discontinued in 1859. Numerous archaeological excavations in the graveyard have located lost graves; however, no attempt has ever been made to violate the actual graves.  Burial practices appear to have included Native African burial customs, as items such as broken pottery shards, scissors, broken mirrors, chalk, etc. were found on top of some of the graves. Many of the gravestones associated with the burial ground were re-discovered under the church in the mid-1990s. Ten of the gravestones are used in the African Moravian Log Church to tell some of the diverse stories of those enslaved in and around Salem.