First clean-up scheduled at Agency Cemetery in over 10 years

OklahomaEventsCommunity Indigenous
Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 10/12/2022, 6:44 PM
Edited: 10/13/2022, 12:58 AM

(MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Okla.) After more than a decade, a Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen cemetery will soon receive some much-needed attention. 

Old Agency cemetery, also known as Union Agency Cemetery and simply Agency Cemetery, was founded in 1858.

Following the deaths of former property owners William “Sage” Fields and Delores Moore, the cemetery has repeatedly fallen into severe neglect. 

Read more: How Muskogee County continues to forget 1,000 dead people

Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Bandleader Rhonda Grayson said their upcoming cleanup keeps with the MCIFB mission to preserve and protect the history of the Muscogee Creek Freedmen, who were among the first people to inhabit Indian Territory. 

“Many of those first people are interred in Old Agency cemetery, including Sugar George, a Muscogee Creek Nation Tribal Council member, and Harry Island, an official U.S. Interpreter with the Muscogee Creek Nation,” Grayson said. 

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We’re told the cemetery also holds the remains of other African Creek Freedmen who served in the Muscogee Creek Nation House of Kings and the House of Warriors, as well as veterans from the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. 

“We are pleased to announce that the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War will partner with the MCIFB on this cleanup day,” Grayson said. 

MCIFB is still looking for more volunteers to help with their cleanup, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 5. 


Many of the volunteers also have Freedmen relatives who are buried there, like Bill Bailey with family members on his wife’s side.

Bailey took part in the cemetery’s last clean-up circa 2010. 

“It’s a very sad situation,” Bailey said. “Very sad. Due to neglect."

Bailey said vandalism has also contributed to the cemetery’s sad state. 

With the current property owner dead, Grayson told us their organization is currently working to legally acquire the cemetery to maintain preservation for their members and the greater community.  

Those wishing to donate to the MCIFB’s acquisition and preservation efforts of Old Agency Cemetery can do so here. 

Dennis Wilhite, a Muskogee resident who helped in the Booker T. Washington Cemetery cleanup in 2017 and 2018, is another resident lending his expertise in this effort.

He said one of the most important pieces of advice he has to offer is for volunteers to leave tombstones and other historical markers where they are during the cleanup.  

To those interested in taking part in the cleanup on November 5, Grayson offered the following tips: 

Wear protective work clothing like gloves, long pants, and boots 

Bring and/or wear insect repellent 

Bring necessary tools such as clippers, weed eaters, and barrels for transporting brush

Email Rhonda Grayson at for a map and more information on where the cleanup group will be parking the day of the cleanup.  

It is important to note that while many have speculated legendary lawman Bass Reeves was buried at Agency Cemetery, a ledger of Muskogee County death certificates purchased earlier this year says otherwise. 

Those records indicate Reeves is actually buried at Harding Cemetery. To follow that story, visit "An American History Mystery: A Tale of Death in Muskogee Co, OK 1910-1916" on Facebook.


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