Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Another Slave Burial Site in Utah

Another Slave Burial Site in Utah

By: Amy Tanner Thiriot - June 04, 2013

When John and Elizabeth Hancock Redd and their children crossed the plains to Utah, they took at least five slaves with them: Venus and her son Luke, and Chancey and her daughters Anna and Marinda.

Marinda is buried in the Spanish Fork City Cemetery with her husband, Alex Bankhead. Kate Carter’s sources for her book The Negro Pioneer seem to assume that the other Redd slaves or former slaves were also buried in Spanish Fork, but they weren’t listed in the same cemetery as the Bankheads, and I hadn’t yet looked for them elsewhere so they would be included in the Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans.

A few days ago I learned that there is an old pioneer cemetery in Spanish Fork, located on a low bluff overlooking the Spanish Fork River. The original grave markers were washed out by flooding, and when the town began a newer cemetery on higher ground, some of the burials were relocated and the pioneer cemetery became run down.

A few years back, the local chapter of Daughters of Utah Pioneers together with the city of Spanish Fork and a local developer made a concerted effort to clean up the dilapidated old cemetery.1 Janene Baadsgaard and Pat Sagers combed through old records to compile a list of over 100 pioneers who were known to be buried there, or who were probably buried in the cemetery.2 The pioneer cemetery has been beautifully renovated and the likely burials are listed on a monument.

The burials include John Hardison Redd and his wife Elizabeth Hancock Redd and two of their children. Their following slaves may have been buried in the pioneer cemetery:

Chancey Redd3
Anna Redd4
Luke Ward Redd5

Never a slave himself, but the son of a freed slave, Marinda Redd Bankhead’s infant son Edward T. may also be buried in the pioneer cemetery.6

Mark Butler, a regular reader and occasional contributor to Keepapitchinin, has been in Utah to attend a family funeral. While there, he visited the graves of his grandparents in Spanish Fork. He also visited Alex and Marinda’s graves and left some flowers and then drove over to the Pioneer Cemetery. He noted that the visit was very moving, and that it was a lovely spot and worth visiting, even without being related to the pioneers buried there. He sent the following pictures.

IMG_2400 IMG_2401 IMG_2402 IMG_2403 IMG_2405 IMG_2406 IMG_2407 IMG_2408 IMG_2409 IMG_2410 IMG_2411 IMG_2412 IMG_2414

This is a follow up to Remembering Slave Burial Sites: A Memorial Day Post, and includes content from an ongoing project, so the genealogical information here is subject to change. I will send a note about the Spanish Fork Pioneer Cemetery to the Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans. If you’re interested, the project has a Facebook page.


  1. The cemetery is located at 1508 East 1820 South in Spanish Fork. See media coverage of the cemetery project here and here and here. []
  2. See their lists here and here. []
  3. Evidence suggests that Chancey may have been sold by the Redd family to Samuel and Mary Cunningham as they were traveling south to the Cotton Mission in the days before the slaves were freed. Chancey shows up in St. George, Utah Territory, in the 1870 census, but sometime after that she left the Cunningham family and was said to have returned to live with her family in Spanish Fork, where she probably died and was buried. []
  4. Anna died in 1854 in Spanish Fork. She is sometimes listed in local records as Amy. []
  5. Luke went south to help the next generation of Redds settle New Harmony, Utah Territory. He left New Harmony for the mining region of California, where he shows up in multiple records between 1873 and 1880, unmarried, working as a carpenter. After the 1880 census he drops out of the public record. Did he move back to Utah to be with his family? Did he die in California in 1884 as someone has claimed on Ancestry? []
  6. Edward was born in the spring of 1867 and died that fall. His father is unknown. []


  1. Thank you, Amy (and Mark). This project resonates with most of Keepa’s themes, especially remembering and honoring individuals of the past. Kudos to Spanish Fork,too, for investing in restoring the old cemetery.

    I followed your link to the Facebook page for Burial Database Project, and from there read several stories of people who have found and marked these graveyards. I especially enjoyed one about a group of Bronx schoolkids who, with their teacher, are working on a cemetery in their neighborhood.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 4, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  2. Wow. This is fascinating–thanks, all.

    Comment by Christopher — June 4, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  3. You can see that the Redd family’s slaves’ names include “Redd” in parentheses. I thought that was a nice touch, showing the connection to the family and piquing the curiosity of the interested visitor to find out why. Janene Baadsgaard, who chaired the restoration project, was clear; in an interview with the Provo Daily Herald, linked to in the OP, she stated clearly that those three were Redd family slaves.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 4, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  4. One last thing. As Amy said, the 30 minutes I spent at the cemetery was extraordinarily moving. If you’re in Utah for MHA, I’d highly recommend taking the trip down to Spanish Fork to visit it. And, we should find some way to let the City of Spanish Fork, the DUP and the others involved that people from all over the world of Mormon history appreciate what they’ve done.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 4, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

  5. Thanks again, Mark, for the pictures and your comments about the experience. It’s good to know about cultural treasures like this.

    Technically the slaves didn’t have last names, but they customarily took the names of their owners. This was the case with Luke Redd, who was known by that name in California. It was not the case with Venus, who later went by the whimsical name Venus Cupid.

    And, one note for the public record. Another historian has done some research on these families and has stated that some of the slave children were children of John Hardison Redd. They certainly could have been, but based on every record I have seen, that claim is pure speculation. Unless I have missed something, no contemporaneous records suggest that was the case. The fact that they were listed as mulatto in the census is not enough to prove paternity. And as hard as I have tried, I have not been able to find any living descendants of the Redd family slaves, so that speculation could not be proved or disproved by DNA testing.

    In any case, neither of these women, Venus or Chancey, is known to have been married or had children with any named father. Despite the fact that these women were faithful members of the church, they should not be sealed as a spouse to anyone, and most particularly not to their former owner.

    Comment by Amy T — June 4, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  6. Truly a great project. Thanks, Amy and Mark, for sharing about this.

    Comment by kevinf — June 4, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

  7. Yes, thank you. This is wonderful.

    Comment by Amira — June 5, 2013 @ 5:59 am

  8. First of all – thank you for the nice article about the Pioneer Cemetery, and the research that went into finding those early burials, especially since I was one who was doing the research. And, I appreciate the nice comments about the Cemetery from other readers. A lot of work, by many, many people went into making it a beautiful cemetery.

    I am still doing some research and writing a brief histories on all those buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. And, I am still working on Luke Redd – he is a very interesting man, and most likely is not buried in Spanish Fork, Utah, and probably not even in Utah. However, I knew that fact just prior to putting up the new Monument at the Pioneer Cemetery in S.F., but we felt he deserved his name being recorded somewhere, and we felt it might as well be here, with the only family he had.

    Just to let you know a little more about your paragraph:
    “Never a slave himself, but the son of a freed slave, Marinda Redd Bankhead’s infant son Edward T. may also be buried in the pioneer cemetery.6″

    Edward is not buried in the Pioneer Cemetery – he is buried in the unsurveyed plat in the City Cemetery. The following are my notes that I had written about little Edward:
    “In Book A of the Spanish Fork Burial Records, Edward was listed as Edward T. Dennis, and Dennis was crossed out and Redd was written above it. His father was listed as William T. Dennis, and his mother was listed as Marinda Redd. He is buried in Section A of the City Cemetery.”

    “City Cemetery Record book (F# 1654570 Item 2) says: “Redd, Edward T. born: 12 April 1867, Spanish Fork, Utah, son of Marinda C. Redd, died: 29 Oct 1867, buried Spanish Fork, Utah. [City Cemetery.]”

    “High Priest Death Records – F# 0231908, says: “Redd, Edward T. – Single – Mother: Marinda C. Redd, Born: 12 April 1867 at Spanish Fork, Utah; Died: 29 October 1867 at Spanish Fork, Utah. Buried: Unsurveyed Plat [City Cemetery].”

    I felt this information should be shared with others who cared about these wonderful families who seldom enjoyed any real freedoms of their own.

    Pat L. Sagers

    Comment by Pat Sagers — December 4, 2013 @ 10:01 pm