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Higgs Beach African Cemetery: Key West, Florida

This was located right next door to the West Martello Fort. The fort was pretty cool to visit. Really nice gardens and a great place to sit down.

Then just east of the fort is Higgs Beach and a memorial to Africans who died in 1860.

The State of Florida historical marker at the grave site reads:

State historic marker tells the story of the slaveship that was intercepted and brought into Key West.

“Near this site lie the remains of 294 African men, women and children who died in Key West in 1860. In the summer of that year the U.S. Navy rescued 1,432 Africans from three American-owned ships engaged in the illegal slave trade. Ships bound for Cuba were intercepted by the U.S. Navy, who brought the freed Africans to Key West where they were provided with clothing, shelter and medical treatment. They had spent weeks in unsanitary and inhumane conditions aboard the slave ships. The U.S. steamships Mohawk, Wyandott and Crusader rescued these individuals from the Wildfire, where 507 were rescued; the William, where 513 were rescued; and the Bogota, where 417 survived. In all, 294 Africans succumbed at Key West to various diseases caused by conditions of their confinement. They were buried in unmarked graves on the present day Higgs Beach where West Martello Tower now stands. By August, more than 1,000 survivors left for Liberia, West Africa, a country founded for former American slaves, where the U.S. government supported them for a time. Hundreds died on the ships before reaching Liberia. Thus, the survivors were returned to their native land, Africa, but not to their original homes on that continent.”

This is just amazing that this cemetery still exists.

If you wish to visit, there is plenty of free parking right along this little beach.


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