What happened to dead bodies after executions?

Oct 2017
America 🇺🇸
Anyone know how American slaves’ bodies were treated once they died? They were usually buried weren’t they? But where exactly, on or adjacent to their plantations? Or special slave cemeteries?


Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
Slaves were generally buried in segregated cemeteries, often with no identifying markers. As "civilization" moved westward the administration of Justice went along with it, so proper trials, executions, and burials became more "formal". Along the Western frontier of the US expansion, things were often decidedly "informal". Trials just weren't possible while you were driving a thousand head of cattle up the Chisholm or Goodnight Trails. Miners often had to defend themselves and their mines from claim-jumpers. A stage that didn't arrive on schedule, or livestock that vanished had to be dealt with promptly, and there was often a shortage of lawmen in what were still only territorial states. Here is an example from our family archive that happened around the turn of the century in the Southwest. A couple of mules and two or three head of cattle were stolen. My grand-father was not even a teenager when he accompanied his big brothers (the only two "men" on the place who could be spared) mission to recover valuable stock. It took a couple of days tracking the missing mules and cattle, but the brothers found the rustlers camp. As the sun rose, the two lay atop a small hill with rifles awaiting the sunrise. The sun came up behind the hill, and the rustlers began to make their morning coffee and died. I'm not sure the two boys buried the thieves properly, but probably they did tarry long enough for a couple shallow graves before heading back to the Rancho. Rumor circulated, and the County Sheriff paid a visit to inquire. He was an old-school lawman and knew what had happened. Instead of arresting a boy for a double murder, and that is what it amounted to, he told the older boy ... John ... to clear out and don't be seen in the territory again. Zero chance of conviction, but Law and civilization was dawning as the Queen in England ended the 19th century. Just a little more than a hundred years ago, outlaws on the american frontier were lucky just to be strung up by a mob of vigilantes.
May 2017
Cemeteries were segregated right up to modern times . Even today ! The dead have very few rights . My wife and I travel the southern states on a regular basis and always visit old cemeteries . Lots of knowledge and history in small town cemeteries .