The Historic Midland Cemetery

Friends Of Midland Memory

Welcome to our memory page, which are short stories given by members of the organization past and present.

The purpose is to give you a glimpse into the thoughts of family members who have someone interred in the historic Midland Cemetery. This page will be periodically updated with new stories.


When I was a youngster I felt an intense dislike for Midland Cemetery. It was after all a place given to grief remorse and sorrowful ceremony over the loss of loved ones. It was there that I said final good-byes to my Father, my Grandfather, two brothers, an aunt, other relatives and friends. Too many times it was there that I heard intoned….”Ashes to Ashes...Dust to Dust”.

Among my recollections of Midland was that when I had occasion to go there it was chilly, windy and damp… and invariably it rained …on me. I remember to the long walk I took with my Mother, sister, and brothers from the west side of Steelton carrying shovels, rakes and buckets to dress the gravesite prior to Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was a departure from the norm at Midland. It was a day when drum and bugle corps paraded, someone always recited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, politicians mouthed platitudes and social exchanges between parties who came to visit the graves of departed relatives and friends. It was rather like a picnic.

As I grew older and burials took place less frequently at Midland I like others drifted away from concern over Midland. But then along came Barbara (Barksdale that is). I was impressed and inspired by her fervor for restoring this old run down piece of real estate. The history that she uncovered buried with the bodies at Midland is noteworthy. She literally caused those bones to speak to us. Terms like Buffalo soldiers, U.S. Colored Troops, and increased knowledge of local Black history came to the fore. A pride of heritage and a realization that the people buried at Midland included those who rose from involuntary servitude and denial of equal opportunity climbed to positions of voluntary and exemplary service to their community, their country and to their God.

The hatred I thought I once felt for Midland is now replaced by Pride, Respect and Love. I know that we must not allow our concern for the symbol of our heritage and history to wane.

Zane G. Phoenix Sr.

Note: Mr. Zane Phoenix Sr. wrote this for a newsletter prior to his death in March 2006. He was a brilliant person and a great board member. Loved his church, family and community.