The mysterious anonymous cemetery on the southwest side of Indianapolis

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Project 317 tells stories of life across bustling Indianapolis neighborhoods – 317 words at a time.

A small, anonymous cemetery rests under a 160-year-old oak tree on the south side of West Mills Road, where cast headstones bear the names of loved ones who have passed away.

For many residents across the street, its existence remains a mystery.

Jared Hewitt, who sometimes gets “chills” when he walks past, thinks it could be a historical landmark.

George Gram, who has lived there for 15 years, said: “I never really knew what it is.

Anthony Diaz has “never heard of it” in four years there.

The history of the cemetery seems lost.

What they don’t know:

That in 1858, Mary Anne Wilson, 9 months old, was buried there.

That two years later, the land was sold to Joseph Antrim and Joshua Edwards for $ 1, for the purpose of a place of worship and a public cemetery.

That in 1863 Antrim and Edwards established Mount Pleasant Baptist Church there.

That one Sunday afternoon in 1966, parishioners gathered at the church and cemetery site and sang hymns as they walked less than a mile to MPBC’s new location; at the corner of Mann Road, where it is today.

That the last traces of the white wood-frame building constituting the original MPBC were removed a few years later.

That the last burial in the cemetery took place in 1993.

That in 2013, 32-year Mount Pleasant Baptist Church pastor John Dunaway celebrated the church’s 150th anniversary with the congregation.

That he keep the parish registers dating back to the 1860s, hoping to be buried one day in the cemetery, but knowing that he will not.

“The cemetery is unmarked for no other reason than we haven’t yet,” Dunaway said. “If you know anything about churches, that’s kind of how it is.”

Contact IndyStar reporter Brandon Drenon at 317-517-3340 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonDrenon.

Brandon is also a member of the Report for America corps of the GroundTruth Project, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the United States and around the world.

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