Side A: The Carthagena Black Cemetery (Union Cemetery) is a remnant of approximately 70 documented rural black and mulatto settlements established in Ohio before the Civil War. In the charged atmosphere following race riots in Cincinnati in 1829, Quaker abolitionist Augustus Wattles led 15 black families north in 1835. In 1837 Wattles purchased 189 acres where the cemetery is located. Headstones date from 1840, the year mulatto Charles Moore, platted the Village of Carthagena. Wattles and mulatto clergymen Sam Jones and Harrison Lee were Underground Railroad conductors. Wattles moved to Kansas in 1855. By 1860, more than 100 black and mulatto families, totaling 600 people, owned over 10,000 acres. (Continued on other side)
Side B: (Continued from other side) In the adjacent townships of Butler, Franklin, Granville, and Marion, black and mixed-race families built four Protestant churches and three schools, which all closed by the 1930s. A wrought iron fence separates the black cemetery from St. Aloysius Catholic Church (1878) and cemetery. In 1952 U. S. Route 127 was widened, leaving 240 headstones. The last burial in 1957 and the departure of the Jennings family in the 1960s signaled the end of the black community of Cathagena. In the 1970s and 1980s, the county genealogical society read the cemetery, which includes headstones for a black veteran of the War of 1812 and eight from the Civil War. This commemorative text was composed by the county genealogical society members to share an important part of Mercer County’s history.