SUGAR LAND, TX - Reginald Moore, a former corrections officer, is the official state guardian of the small Imperial farm prison cemetery. The cemetery lies several hundred yards away from the recent discovery of approximately 30 burial remains found on a multi-million dollar Ft. Bend ISD school construction site.
"This cemetery came about after the end of the convict lease era... which was over in 1912," Moore explained.
Though no remains were found until recently, Moore has maintained for nearly 20 years that bodies were buried in this area.
"So for me, to find 30 some bodies prior to not finding one. Man, I was elated, ecstatic. I felt good. Maybe these guys will be recognized for the atrocities that happened," said Moore.
The atrocities he speaks of followed the abolition of slavery, and what followed that was a convict lease system, reportedly utilizing inmates for work on a prison sugar cane plantation, under the umbrella of Imperial Sugar.
"They didn't want to get rid of slavery, so they would find some trumped up charge and convict a person of it--whether you were black, white or hispanic. If you died out there, that's where you stayed," said David Collingsworth, "KPFT-FM" of The Prison Show
For several years, Collingsworth, and Moore organized visits to this site. The state of Texas recognized this site as being historical in 2007. But when you think in terms of a prison, with an expanse of more than 2k acres, which covers the areas that are being developed...you have to wonder with the recent discovery, could there be bones buried beneath these homes, buried beneath these homes.
"Sure, without question, there's a possibility. I'm not going to panic anyone saying there are... but absolutely. Every place you have had plantations, there's gonna be unmarked cemeteries," said University of Houston Anthropology Professor Ken Brown.
And as the nearby unmarked burial ground is being excavated, Moore and others are hoping something will be done to remember those, who were lost or forgotten in Sugar Land's history.
"If my family was buried there, I would want some type of recognition," Collingsworth said.
"They weren't buried properly. They didn't have headstones and haven't been acknowledged from the city or the state," Moore added.
Moore is now hoping the recognition for those who were buried here is finally coming. He hopes to continue working with Ft. Bend ISD, the city and the state to eventually develop plans for an onsite museum dedicated to lives lost during slavery and the prisoner lease program that followed here in Sugar Land.