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Veterans Lost in the Brush: The Great War, A Desecrated Landscape, and Geographies of Public Memory

Authors: Grayson Hinkle*, Stephen F. Austin State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Urban Geography, Black Geography, Cultural Geography,
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2009, the Stephen F. Austin State University Geography Club (SFASU Geography Club) recognized racism within an abandon Black cemetery within the city of Nacogdoches. Since that time, we developed a plan to address the desecrated site through a sustained clean-up project. At present, the SFASU Geography Club hosts two annual community service days in an attempt to restore and preserve this landscape where anonymous corpses rest in unmarked sunken graves. Only a few dozen vandalized tombstones remain. St. Paul cemetery serves as the final resting place of veterans from World War I, World War II, and the Korean Conflict. This poster will introduce the urban Black experience during World War I in the United States and Texas. Specifically, this poster will examine one Black veteran at St. Paul, R. E Pettus (1892-1956), a member of the 22nd Service Corps 20th Engineers who fought in France during the war to end all wars. Pettus represents those who served their nation but returned to racism and the hatred of Jim Crow laws. Secondly, this poster will elaborate on the method used in finding these invisible veterans as well as their experiences once they returned home. There were thousands like Pettus. Some stayed in Texas and others joined the Great Migration. Many reluctantly left behind families, ancestral homes, and sacred places.

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