When I arrived in Kinderhook on Monday July 25, I met Warren Applegate a volunteer for the “Persons of Color cemetery.” The name of the cemetery derives from the will of an Irish immigrant, and enslaver, who donated a quarter acre of land for the cemetery.
The Persons of Color cemetery is a short distance from the old Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Kinderhook. The enslaved, of the Dutch settled Kinderhook, according to the town historian, Kate Johnson, would have been expected to speak to both Dutch and some English. Johnson said old runaway slave advertisements mentioned if the Freedom Seeker spoke Dutch, adding with a sadden voice, Kinderhook was hostile to African Americans who served the community, located 21 miles south of Albany.
Today the cemetery sits adjacent to the Rothermel park near the Village of Kinderhook. The Black community which existed in Kinderhook until the late 1950s is mostly gone now, Johnson said. It’s presumed many moved for better opportunities and to be near more progressive communities elsewhere. The former AME church is now a private residence.
Applegate and other community volunteers have worked hard over the past few years to make the cemetery a peaceful place for the many ancestors buried there. While at the site I felt the ancestors here were at peace.