From the Queens Chronicle:
After 10 months of research, a volunteer Queens historian has uncovered an African burial ground at a Kew Gardens cemetery.
Carl Ballenas last week announced the discovery after investigating a mysterious monument near the Lefferts Boulevard entrance to Maple Grove Cemetery. Armed only with the stone’s vague inscription — “Removals from church vaults at the corner of Prince and Marion streets New York, February 1877” — Ballenas, a social studies teacher who donates his time to Maple Grove, set out to determine the contents below the monument and the narrative behind it.
“It’s a phenomenal thing — history being brought to life here and it was right under our noses,” he noted with a laugh.
The monument is believed to be the marker of the burial site of 308 members of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, which was established in 1822 by the Rev. Samuel Cornish and more commonly known as the Shiloh Presbyterian Church. It was part of the Underground Railroad network of people and places that helped slaves escape, and relocated throughout Manhattan several times, including to a building at the corner of Prince and Marion streets, where it operated for nearly 30 years.
Ballenas said that according to Maple Grove’s interment records, in 1877, the church’s burial vaults were moved to the Queens cemetery, which was just two years old at the time. “Note — Int. 29 — 308 removals from the Presbyt. Ch. Vault New York City, corner of Prince and Marion St.,” reads a note in the 1877 interment ledger.