Can we discover the shady past of a town from a skeleton? Sugar Land, the lively city of Texas is now enjoying a modern life, but the past was not that lively at all. It was once a plantation land, which the African-American slaves had built. At present, a school construction is going on; where a digger found something that looked like a human skeleton. Archaeologists were summoned and when they came, they discovered that hundreds of bodies lay underneath two feet and five feet of dust. It was an unofficial grave. By June 2018, 50 graves were unearthed and slowly the horrifying past of the city came into the limelight. The study of bones revealed that they belonged to the African-American slaves who were all men from the age group of 14 to 70 years old. Some chains were also discovered and all these discoveries dated to the 20th century. It was 13 years later than the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution where slavery was made illegal. The first burial dated to 1878 and the place was used a burial ground for African-American slaves till 1910. After the Civil War, slavery was illegal and this affected the local economy. The business owners looked elsewhere to get their work without paying fair wages. During this period, Texas started a convict-leasing system, which was simply another form of slavery. Mainly the African-American prisoners were rented out through this scheme. These black men didn’t have to put in much effort to land themselves in jail. It seemed that they were the target of the officials because even fraternizing with women of different race and color would land them in jail. There was no proper medical aid for the prisoners; so if they fell sick, the business owners didn’t even bother to take care of them. Instead, they went back to the state to look for other prisoners to replace the sick ones. The prison farm soon earned a title of Hellhole of Brazos due to its notoriety and proximity to the Texan river. In 1912, this whole practice was banned. A former prison officer, Reginald Moore, was hell-bent to find out the grave truth of this prison farm. In 2018, when this grave was finally unearthed, his suspicion was confirmed. Moore wants to build a memorial for the less-fortunate prisoners who didn’t have a voice to speak for themselves. He wants the present city to know how it was to stay and work in such a dark situation where even basic amenities were also not considered for the prisoners. This is how a skeleton unearthed the dark and miserable past of the city. Intriguing, isn’t it?
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