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.
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:
Historical Society of Harrisburg (Linglestown)
SW Group at the West Shore County Club
American Business Women
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
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
Senior Citizen groups
Mechanicsburg Historical Society
Penn State University
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.