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As a descendent of a Sunnyside survivor, I was told that the conditions on the plantations were incredibly poor. Most of the Italians were from northern Italy and were not used to the heat of the American south. It was said that the people were dying like flies from malaria, snake bites, and the living conditions. They were moved to areas more like the area they came from in Italy, the mountains. These Italians were industrious and made their crops. The Italians were put in a position of owing the company store! They were basically indentured slaves (my opinion). The priest came to Sunnyside and worked out a way to remove them from the plantation.

The people of this area had no respect for the Italians. They have plowed most of the cemetery under, with bones occasionally showing up in the slough that surrounds it. There are very few stones left, and an area has been fenced off that is much smaller than the original cemetery.


Judith Coyne
Staunton, IL