Kingsley Plantation Slave Cemetery Civic Engagement

Witness Tree Ceremony

Descendants perform a libation ceremony at the site of the graveyard.

NPS Photo

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Stop Talking and Listen
Year Accomplished:

 "There is much more research to be done at this site," Goodman said. "As we continue to determine what that research will be, we will engage the community on a number of themes that will help us properly respect and honor those resting here. That engagement begins today and will continue through the coming months and years." Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve Superintendent Barbara Goodman announced a significant archaeological discovery at an event at Kingsley Plantation on Thursday, November 10. The discovery was of the previously unknown location of a burial ground, believed to be a Kingsley-era slave cemetery -- with six early 19th Century human burials confirmed. The announcement was attended by a group of Kingsley Plantation descendants, including Dr. Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art. Kingsley Plantation is the site of a former large estate on Fort George Island. It was owned in the early 1800s by Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and shipper who married one of his slaves, Anna Jai. In 1811 he freed her and their three children. She went on to manage the plantation in Kingsley's absence and own slaves herself. After the United States annexed Florida in 1821, racial policies changed. Interracial marriage was prohibited. Free blacks and those of mixed race were prohibited from inheriting property. In response, Kingsley eventually moved his family to the free black society of Haiti. The archaeological research leading to the discovery was conducted by the University of Florida Department of Anthropology in partnership with the Timucuan Preserve. Dr. James M. Davidson led an archaeological field school at Kingsley Plantation between May 10 and June 18, 2010, when the discovery was made. The field school consisted of 17 students, numerous volunteers and members of the Timucuan Preserve staff. On Saturday November 12, park rangers and the park archaeologist presented a "Day of Discovery" at the site. Rangers offered guided tours of the grounds and answered questions regarding the history of Kingsley Plantation and the cemetery. Visitors were offered the opportunity to engage at a 'reflection station' to share their thoughts, ideas, and stories related to their personal connection to this discovery. On February 2, 2012, park staff led by the consulting firm of StetsonRollins gathered a group of community leaders at the studios of WJCT in Jacksonville to engage in dialogue and planning in the civic engagement process based on the discovery of the slave burial grounds at Kingsley Plantation. The purpose of the event was to continue to engage our community in thoughtful reflection and dialogue about the personal and community values evoked by the discovery of the slave burial grounds at Kingsley. The event was videotaped and aired as an hour long presentation on several evenings during the month of February. A portion of the program can be viewed here. For more information, please contact: Shauna Allen, Chief of Resource Stewardship and Partnerships,