The Borough of Pottstown, Pennsylvania is a small community that is located astride the Schuylkill River forty miles northwest of Philadelphia. Long before the first European set foot on this continent this region was hunting and fishing lands for the Lenape, (Delaware), people.
In the year 1859 in this community of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a work crew was clearing a field along the banks of the Schuylkill River, an area that would have traditionally been part of the wide-ranging hunting/fishing lands of the Lenni-Lenape people, when they unearthed the remains of a Native American along with artifacts that were probably meant to help him along his path in the afterworld. These included a flint lock rifle along with items of shelter, hunting and food preparation. Seven years later a homeowner in the same area discovered similar artifacts and a skull in the basement of his property. Over a period of approximately twelve years similar remains and artifacts were uncovered in this location. They were put on display at the local Library for a time but eventually all of the remains and artifacts were either misplaced, lost, stolen or given away. There is no known record of this loss and the only known record of the findings are a result of news articles that have survived from that time.
Over a period of time culminating in the year 2000, community leaders, through the encouragement of Pottstown Borough Mayor Nancy, (Ann), Jones erected a memorial commemorating the site on a parcel of land near the location of the removal of these sacred remains. The property was donated to the Borough by the O’Connor family, (owners of Humphrey’s Flag Company). On May 6, 2000, the community gathered to dedicate and honor the memory of the souls once laid to rest at this site. The site consists of a Sonorous Boulder relocated from a nearby glacial field, known as Ringing Rocks Park, marked with a plaque simply stating that “In this vicinity in the year 1759 Borough workers unearthed a Native American Burial Ground. IN THEIR MEMORY WE DEDICATE THIS SITE. MAY 6, 2000”.
The burial site has become untended at times and in the year 2010 a young man by the name of Michael Yacovelli, (Guyer), encouraged by a local resident who occasionally cleared the site of debris and weeds, took to improve the site for his Eagle Scout project. A pergola and bench were designed, built, stained, and erected as well as plantings native to the area. Unfortunately the plants have not survived as they were intended to be represented and the site went untended again.
The plot of land that represents the burial ground is not impressive by any standards, it sits at an intersection of roadways that include a heavily traveled road, (Industrial Highway), and a one way street that culminates at the intersection. There is a quaint family bar, (Franky and Johnnies) at one corner and the Humphrey’s Flag Company north of the property that the site is located on.
Efforts to clear and improve the area have begun with the intent of giving appropriate respect to those interred in this site, and the memory of the culture that sustained for so long before the “discovery” by the Europeans of this great land.
Plans at this time include indigenous plants, a sacred circle, representative petroglyphs of the Lenape/Delaware, informative signage, lighting and a pathway that should represent a journey pursued by the people laid to rest here.
As we progress with our vision I will keep you posted on our progress.