Museum raising money to get grave markers for former slaves buried in Birmingham cemetery

Posted at 2:35 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 14:53:11-04

(WXYZ) — The Birmingham Museum is raising money to get grave markers for two former slaves who were buried in a cemetery in the early 1900s.

George and Eliza Taylor escaped slavery in Kentucky and used the Underground Railroad to get to Michigan in the 1850s and settled as farmers before eventually buying a home in 1883.

According to the museum, they were active in the United Presbyterian Church and the first Black property owners in the city.

George and Eliza died six months apart in 1901 and 1902, but their graves at the Greenwood Cemetery were not marked, and the story was lost in the passing of time.

In January, local historian George Getschman discovered their obituary and learned their story.

“It was immediately apparent that we needed to do something about the missing marker,” said Getschman.

$2,000 has already been committed to the project but another $2,700 is needed. When the funds are available, a large marker will be installed similar to the older graves in the cemetery with the notation, "Born in slavery, died free in Birmingmam.

Lisa Milton, President of the Piety Hill Chapter, said, “Piety Hill’s mission is historic preservation, education and patriotism. Our chapter is actively involved in preserving the history of Greenwood Cemetery. When we became aware of George and Eliza Taylor’s story, our members were committed to getting involved in procuring a marker for their resting place. The Taylors are an important part of the Birmingham community’s history. We are very proud to support the establishment of a permanent and meaningful grave marker for them. We look forward to a future community celebration of their lives.”

Getschman agrees. “The Taylors’ story and their final resting place should be acknowledged so they can take their place in Birmingham history.”

Contributions to the Taylor Monument Fund can be made online in any amount through a secure payment service with the Birmingham Museum/City of Birmingham at If preferred, checks can be made payable to “Friends of the Birmingham Museum-Taylor Monument Project” and mailed to: Birmingham Museum, 556 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009.