Where are the Potter’s Fields?
Salisbury’s Potter’s Field is a triangular shaped piece of property wedged between Alt. Route 50, Commerce Street (once called Cemetery Street) and Arby’s parking lot, just east of the railroad tracks. It has long been known as Salisbury’s City Cemetery, often referred to as the Potter’s Field.
It used to be rectangular-shaped until the highway was built through the area, taking over half of the cemetery. It may have been even larger, I don’t know, but it’s history has been traced pretty far back. But in 1877 the Atlas showed it as it was before the highway, and segregated, with the “Colored Cemetery” to the eastern edge. The eastern edge of that Colored Cemetery abuts the edge of today’s Arby’s parking lot.
A plat is shown of the cemetery created during the planning process for the highway. Also shown are two 1959 photographs from the Salisbury Times, one showing workers with the grizzly task of moving graves into the wedge undisturbed by the construction of the highway.
It is doubtful there were many markers for burials in the Colored Cemetery, but two important headstones do exist and survive, that of Levin Huston and his wife Esther (or Easter). Levin was one of five freedmen who founded the John Wesley M.E. Church in Salisbury in 1837. He was a slave of Dr. John Huston who owned the Poplar Hill Mansion. Levin was manumitted in 1829 after Dr. Huston’s death. Levin purchased the freedom of his wife and daughter. Levin was born in 1794 and died in 1871; Esther died in 1888 at the age of 91. One of their sons, Solomon, also known as Saul, who became a prominent member of the community. Solomon established the cemetery located across the road from Potter’s Field, sometimes confused with Potter’s Field.
Actually, little of the Colored Cemetery was disturbed by the construction of the highway. But many of the relocated bodies, most unknown, were moved into the surviving areas of the cemetery. So if you ever stop by and ponder the confusing little cemetery, you just might still see the two tombstones of two of the earliest in the history of Salisbury. Pay your respects.
— Linda Duyer