The Historic Midland Cemetery

Friends of Midland Introduction


The Friends of Midland is a 501 (c) 3 organization. Formed in June 1993 for the sole purpose of restoration and preservation of the Midland Cemetery.   Nestled on the old Kelker farm in Swatara Township on Kelker Street and Cole Alley (behind the Steelton-Highspire High School), this now plush green site with its white stones protruding from the earth has a story to tell. This site has become noted for its historical value, a place of peace, tranquility and beauty where every headstone is a book of history.

The Group has worked hard to expose the history of the cemetery by inviting historians, colleges and community to the site

Barbara Barksdale began forming the organization in January of 1991 after she decided to clean up the grave of her grandfather, only to discover the vast amount of history within the cemetery. Organizing people who had an interest in cleaning up the cemetery became a journey of getting the information out to the public by way of newspapers, churches and community bulletins. Sometimes this meant speaking on radio and television shows.

Over the years, Friends of Midland has been honored and recognized for their efforts, which could not have been done without the help of the many people who came together to, be board members and members. We also are very thankful for the numerous organizations, groups, veterans, and community leaders, Dauphin County Commissioners, Dauphin County Prison, Swatara Township and the Borough of Steelton who give of their time and resources to assist in every way possible. We are thankful for the United Way Day of Caring and the companies that sign on for the task of helping. We are all the team called the Friends of Midland!

Here are a few of the plaques that we have received.

  1. 06/14/95 Proclamation from Swatara Township for Midland restoration
  2. 06/21/96 Certificate of Excellence from Tyrone Dancy – Host of Veteran Hour – WDAS AS 1480 Philadelphia PA. ( I was featured on his show several times over the years)
  3. 09/28/96 Harrisburg Masjid’s Special Achievement
  4. 04/13/97 Preservation Pennsylvania – Stewardship Initiative Award
  5. 06/1997 – The PA Club of the First Baptist Church – Community Service Award
  6. 08/28/99 – Swatara Township – best dress of yesteryear
  7. 11/18/99 – Citation of Appreciation – American Business Woman Association
  8. 05/27/2000 – Proclamation declaring Midland a Historic Site on 02/03/1999
  9. 2000– Steelton Community Award
  10. 05/2000 – Governor Ridge issued proclamation on behalf of Midland Memorial event proclaiming United Stated Colored Troops Day in Pennsylvania
  11. 12/02/2000 Steelton Family Reunion it reads: Dedicated to improve the conditions of mankind
  12. 05/09/01 – PA Bar Association Liberty Bell Award – Young Lawyers Association of PA
  13. 03/2002 – Underground Railroad seminar at the Gettysburg HACC – presented the USCT Award for promoting the history of African Americans and the Midland Cemetery
  14. 02/2004 – Listed in the Patriot Newspaper as a Mover and Shaker
  15. 2008 – USCT award from 3rd USCT re-enactors of Philadelphia
  16. 2009– National Organization of Black Law Enforcement—Person of the Year Award
  17. Received citations and proclamations over the years on behalf of the work done at the historic Midland Cemetery
  18. Numerous proclamations and citations over the years

On behalf of the Friends of Midland, Barbara has done numerous radio and television programs in the area, as well as been interview for newscast. To name a few of the organizations or schools that Friends of Midland has been invited to:

Lions Club
Historical Society of Harrisburg (Linglestown)
SW Group at the West Shore County Club
American Business Women
Girl Scouts
Steelton Elementary
Elizabethtown College
International College Conference in New Orleans
            Topic: mosaic studies – the student and the community

International College Conference in Washington DC
            Topic: how to combine College and Community together for study programs

WPA roundtable in Washington DC
            Topic: preservation of cemeteries
            And placed on their advisor committee

Dickinson College
            And their community liason for several years

Quaker Society of Philadelphia
Civil War Conferences
Cyrene Lodge Youth group of Steelton
William Penn Society of Philadelphia (Harrisburg group)
Rotary Club of Harrisburg
Camp Curtin Historical Society
Buffalo Soldiers of Arizona
Civil War reenactments in Virginia
Church groups
Senior Citizen groups
            Harrisburg
            Steelton
            Oberlin

Mechanicsburg Historical Society
Penn State University
Shippensburg University

Other adventures of Friends of Midland


Attended meetings, Ground Breaking and unveiling of the United States Colored Troops monument in Washington DC at 10th and U St.

Grand Review 2000 – held in Harrisburg, PA
Grand Review 2010 – held in Harrisburg, PA

Had an important role in the movie “Slavery and the Making of America” shown internationally. Organized and provided historical outfits from 1865 for participants.

Support the 3rd USCT of Philadelphia
Support the Buffalo Soldier organizations

Participate in reenactments in many States.

Midland Cemetery is used as a template for other cemeteries through the PA Hallowed Grounds Project by assisting, training and giving support for those who have the desire to restore and preserve their cemeteries throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.