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The City Cemetery opened in 1832, or 33 years before the city of South Bend was incorporated. At that time, the cemetery's location was near the city's outskirts. However, as South Bend grew it became part of the city center and the final resting place for the town's prominent members. It is also an integrated cemetery that holds the remains of Black residents such as members of the Powell family and white industrialists such as the Studebakers.

Founded in 1832, barely a year after South Bend itself, the South Bend City Cemetery originally was laid out on the city’s outskirts, surrounded by forest. Unlike many other institutions, the City Cemetery was never segregated. Members of South Bend’s prominent African American families, such as the Powells and Bryants, are buried throughout its 21 acres.

Schuyler Colfax Jr., who is buried here, served as U.S. Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant and was Speaker of the House of Representatives during the fight to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that abolished slavery in 1865. Thus, Blacks who lived under the shadow of slavery are buried in the same cemetery as Colfax, city founders, prominent industrialists, and Revolutionary War veterans. 
African American Landmark Tour. Civil Rights Heritage Center. 2013. .