Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, is the burial site of Reverend John Jefferson McWilliams a freedom seeker from Missouri. McWilliams was born enslaved in Madison County, Kentucky, in 1843. He and his parents were sold to a slave owner in Missouri when McWilliams was an infant. At the age of 10, McWilliams was sold for the last time to a man in Buchanan County, Missouri. In 1863, McWilliams made the brave decision to escape from slavery and fled to Kansas. On his way to Kansas, McWilliams went to St. Joseph, Missouri, and received aid from Union recruiters. On July 12th, 1863, McWilliams enlisted in the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry in Elwood, Kansas. He served with Union army until the end of the Civil War in 1865. After the war, McWilliams married Sarah Jay Stanton, who also had escaped slavery, on December 25th, 1868. The McWilliams family finally settled in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1886. McWilliams and his wife became ordained ministers and founded Lincoln’s first integrated church, the Third Christian Church, now known as the Christ Temple Mission Church. McWilliams died on March 20th, 1917 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was buried in the Civil War Veteran’s Circle of the Wyuka Cemetery.
John J McWilliams' burial site is featured on the cemetery's published tour, "Wyuka Cemetery: A Driving & Walking Tour," which is available online at http://wyukafoundation.org/pdf/WyukaTourBook.pdf.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: 3600 O Street, Lincoln, Lancaster, 68510
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Board of Trustees Wyuka Cemetery
Location Type: Site
Freedom Seekers: John J McWilliams (1863, MO)