A former slave who lay in an unmarked grave now has a headstone, thanks to a class of high school students in Massachusetts.
Last fall, Dr. Linda Meditz tasked the students in her “Out of the Shadows” class with uncovering the story of a woman who was held in slavery in early New England and was buried in an unmarked grave, according to a statement from the school, The Academy at Penguin Hall.
They found Lucy Foster.
Foster was born into slavery in Boston and given as a “wedding gift” to Hannah and Jacob Foster, according to the school. She was freed when she was 16 and later returned to care for an aging Hannah Foster. Hannah Foster left Lucy an acre of land, a cow and some money upon her death, according to the release.
Large amounts of dishes and pottery at the site of Lucy Foster’s cottage pointed historians to the possibility that she might have supported herself by running a tavern. She may have also been a stop on the Underground Railroad, according to the school statement.
She was buried in an unmarked grave in 1845.
But on Thursday, students from the all-girls school completed their mission, according to CNN affiliate WCVB. With shovels in hand and funds they raised themselves, the teens gave Lucy Foster the gravestone she never had before.
The students worked with a historian and an anthropologist to find a proper place to commemorate Foster and write her an epitaph.
“Born into captivity in Boston. Came to her freedom in Andover,” the gravestone reads. “Known by God and her community.”
Slate artist Michael Updike, writer John Updike’s son, had offered his services to carve the stone, according to the school statement. Together, the team crafted the gravestone, personalized it with designs from Foster’s dishes and erected it in her honor.
Instead of her remains, the students buried a jar of notes they wrote to Foster.
“We have spent all this time talking about Lucy. This gives us a chance to talk to Lucy,” said one of the students, Elise Welch.
On Saturday, they will hold a ceremony for her at the South Parish Church, according to the school. They will reflect on their journey, they said, and will gather to say a prayer over the new grave of a woman who died more than 150 years ago.