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Councilwoman Grant finds her property may hold burial plot for slaves

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NEW MILFORD -

A New Milford councilwoman has found historic data suggesting her property may hold a burial plot for slaves.

Along a strip of road in New Milford sits the home of Councilwoman Hedy Grant. She is now planning on having her property examined to see if the burial plot can be found.

She found the secret about her property after scouring through a deed from 1863.

"There's an old colored burying ground on a property that probably includes my property. It was a larger piece of land at the time," Grant says.

The Demarest family, which founded Bergen County, owned Grant's home and the 5 acres of farm it sat on.

There are records in the book, "The Story of New Milford, New Jersey," suggesting Grant's house was slave quarters.

If it's not on Grant's property, there's a good chance the burial ground may be sitting on a slice of green space now owned by New Milford. It sits just across the creek from her land.

It wouldn't be the only historic graveyard in town. There is also a French cemetery dating back to 1677.

Of the possibility of a slave burial ground, historian Nancy Varettoni says agriculture drove the economy in the 1800s.

"It's not unusual that there would've been a lot of farms," Varettoni says. "They would've had helpers so it's not unusual."

Varettoni says slave burial grounds have recently been preserved in Teaneck and Little Ferry. Those discoveries lend hope to Grant.

Her next move will be using ground detecting radar to find out if those plots exist.

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