Green-Merritt Statement on the Byram African-American Cemetery

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Here is Our Green-Merritt Family Statement on the Byram African-American Cemetery.

We will continue to give voice to our ancestors as well as to all the other African-Americans who are buried there. May they continue to rest in peace.


Lyon Cousins (Ana Ortiz-Hopkins, Eddie Jones, Chris Varner, Pat Bryant, and Teresa Vega)


As descendants of Native- African-Americans buried in the Byram African-American Cemetery and as descendants of the Lyon family, our family applauds the efforts of the Town of Greenwich in wanting to preserve the Byram Cemetery, Lyon Cemetery and Byram African-American Cemetery. These three cemeteries are testaments to the presence of these early settlers and to the presence of African-Americans in Greenwich from the beginning. Certainly, the value of the historic preservation of these cemeteries is without question.

Regarding the Byram African-American Cemetery, our 4th great-grandparents, Anthony and Peg Green, are no doubt buried there along with other ancestors. Our 4th great-grandmother Peg was a slave of Daniel Lyon and of Benjamin Woosley Lyon. Peg’s son Jack was a slave of Simeon Lyon. Our genetic ties to the Lyon family start with Daniel, and go back to James, John, John and finally back to Thomas Lyon. Throughout Peg’s life, she maintained a long lasting relationship with her former slave owners, even after her emancipation in 1800, that was no doubt due to the family ties that they shared —- ties that were born out of slavery personified in Greenwich. The original intent of our Lyon ancestors was to build a sacred burial place for their slaves and ex-slaves— for people like Anthony and Peg.  It was to give these people a final resting place where they could rest in peace for eternity undisturbed. If any one deserved to rest in peace, it was these people who spent part or all of their lives literally slaving away. This was hallowed and consecrated land from the beginning.

Our family is relatively late to this whole cemetery issue. It was only a year ago that we were able to locate our 3rd and 4th great-grandparents and less than a month since we first heard about the infringement to the Byram African-American Cemetery that occurred 2 years ago and our feelings are still raw. Who would have ever thought that our ancestors’ burial ground would now be someone’s front lawn? We certainly didn’t expect that. That being said, we are overjoyed that our Lyon cousins – cousins whose ancestors stood up for our ancestors when the same thing happened in 1890— and other members of the Greenwich Preservation Trust, sounded the alarm about what was happening to our ancestors’ burial place in our absence. I can’t state enough how much that meant to our family. Our shared history matters. That the Town of Greenwich and the Conservation Commission produced a documentary study that details their plans to preserve, redevelop, and further interpret the Byram African-American Cemetery is also commendable. That we are now here discussing the Town’s acquisition of all three cemeteries is laudable indeed.

As someone who is both a family historian and genealogist and who has a degree in anthropology, I am looking forward to sharing any historical information I have with the Conservation Commission, Cemetery Committee, Greenwich Historical Society and with the Greenwich Preservation Trust.  I want people to know that there is a long history of African-Americans in this town. Our family has a long 250+ year history in Greenwich and Greenwich has always been our hometown. Our ancestors were emancipated in 1800 and 1816 and went on to become successful farmers and laborers. They were members of the Second Congregational Church, the Stanwich Congregational Church and the First United Methodist Church in the early 1800s. When the Second Congregational Church opened up Lot 23 in Union Cemetery in 1851, for the burial of the poor and people of color, our Green, Merritt, and Husted ancestors were among the first to buy burial plots. Half of the African-Americans, who are buried in Lot 23 of Union Cemetery, are our ancestors and their in-laws. When this country needed volunteers to fight on the right side of history during the Civil War, 18 African-American men from Greenwich proudly served in the 29th Infantry of the Connecticut Colored Troops. Out of the 18, 2 were my 3rd great-uncles, 3 were my 1st cousins 4XR,  and 4 were their Peterson, Banks, Watson, and Mills in-laws. In 1882, 23 African-American residents of Greenwich came together and formed the Little Bethel AME Church, the first black church in Greenwich, and our Greens and Merritt ancestors were among the founding members. While we represent only one African-American family with deep roots in Greenwich and maybe the only family here to speak on behalf of the people who are buried in the Byram African-American Cemetery, please be aware that there are many more stories that remain to be told about the African-American presence in Greenwich. I, for one, will telling those stories in the near future.

Going forward, our family sees only positive outcomes. Once the Town acquires the Byram African-American Cemetery, we hope that we can all work together to restore the cemetery, discuss its historical significance as the burial place of the town’s earliest Native – African-American residents, to forever link it to the Lyon family whose original intention was to create this part of the Old Cemetery for their slaves and ex-slaves, and to add some sort of monument to the cemetery so that further infringement never occurs again. We also support any future excavation of the cemetery to yield any scientific information about the individuals buried there as well as have a proper re-burial ceremony afterwards. The African-Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan and the Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground in Albany, NY provide excellent examples of positive community involvement and education regarding found and excavated African-American burial grounds. Again, our family is looking forward to a brighter future for the Byram African-American Cemetery and likewise for the Byram Cemetery and Lyon Cemetery.

4 thoughts on “Green-Merritt Statement on the Byram African-American Cemetery

  1. Teresa,
    If you really want to see your tree grow I suggest you join the Pro version of Upload you connection to Thomas Lyon along with as much of your other relatives as you can. Thomas Lyon alone will add hundreds if not more. Here is an example.
    Jane ROLFE is Thomas Lyon’s 11th cousin twice removed.

    Thomas Lyon

    Richard Lyon
    his father

    Robert Lyon
    his father

    William Lyon (I)
    his father

    John Lyon (II), of Ruislip
    his father

    John Lyon (I)
    his father

    Henry Lyon
    his father

    John Lyon, 3rd Lord Glamis
    his father

    Patrick Lyon, 1st Lord Glamis
    his father

    Sir John Lyon of Glamis, Kt.
    his father

    Lady Jean Stewart, Princess of Scotland
    his mother

    Robert II, king of Scots
    her father

    Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland
    his father

    Gille DE BURGH, of Ulster
    his mother

    Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster
    her brother

    Joan de Burgh, Countess of Kildare
    his daughter

    Elizabeth Butler, Countess of Ormonde
    her daughter

    James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond
    her son

    James ‘the White Earl’ Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond
    his son

    Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond
    his son

    Annes Mason nee Butler
    his daughter

    William Mason
    her son

    Dorothea (Mason) Rolfe Redmayne
    his daughter

    Captain John Rolfe, Ancient Planter (Husband of Pocahontas)
    her son

    Lt. Thomas Pepsironemeh Rolfe
    his son

    Jane ROLFE
    his daughter This is the granddaughter of Pocahontas Powhatan. You connection would be her husband and son.

    Lena Horne is Thomas Lyon’s 7th cousin 11 times removed.

    Quincy Jones is Thomas Lyon’s 13th cousin 8 times removed.

    Jessica Alba is Thomas Lyon’s 8th cousin 10 times removed.

    Theresa Renée Eléna Delgado-Tossas is Thomas Lyon’s 9th cousin 10 times removed.

    Langston Hughes is Thomas Lyon’s 13th cousin five times removed.

    Erica “the Disconnectrix” Howton is Thomas Lyon’s 6th cousin 12 times removed.

    Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the USA is Thomas Lyon’s 7th cousin 11 times removed.

    I included my brother Rudy because the program is not always accurate for me.
    Rudolph Wheeler, Jr. is Thomas Lyon’s 10th cousin 10 times removed.

    Ailene Nechelle RANDOLPH is Thomas Lyon’s 11th cousin 10 times removed.

    I could go on for days.Once you can trace your ancestry to a Royal like Lyon can you are related to thousands of people of all races.


  2. BTW it appears you are related to both my parents and Loretta Alexandra from Geni. Loretta and I along with Theresa and Ailene have tons of common relatives. Loretta is not on Facebook she is an artist and apparently people have taken some of her images so she shies away from some social media.
    Theodora Walker Wheeler is Thomas Lyon’s 10th cousin 11 times removed.
    Rudolph Wheeler is Thomas Lyon’s 10th cousin 9 times removed.
    Loretta Alexandra is Thomas Lyon’s 7th cousin 10 times removed.

    It’s amazing how interconnected we become when we find a common relative. Also Geni will add grandparents to you tree from the input of others that have information you don’t have.


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