By Grant Bissell
WILDWOOD, Mo. (KSDK) - It's a beautiful neighborhood with what some call an ugly and offensive street name. For weeks, Wildwood residents have been debating whether to change the name of Old Slave Road.
The neighborhood sits on what used to be a plantation that spread over more than a thousand acres of present day Wildwood. But an expert says the name for Old Slave Road might be a little misleading.
The road itself didn't exist until 1979 and neighbors say the former property owner named it after a slave cemetery located just off the road.
Archaeologist Joe Harl was hired by the city of Wildwood to mark the more than 65 grave sites and research the history of the area. Harl told NewsChannel 5 the place where the road lies was most likely just a foot path and not an actual road used by slaves.
Despite those findings some neighbors and outsiders are fighting to keep the name of the road. They argue it has historical significance.
But others would like to rename the road after Elijah Madison, a former slave that was born on the plantation. Madison earned his freedom when he joined the Colored Infantry of the U.S. Army during the height of the Civil War. Madison later returned to present day Wildwood to raise a family and his grave site can be found in an old African American Cemetery off Wild Horse Creek Road.
"I think Elijah Madison Lane over Old Slave Road would be a lot nicer," said Vicky Knobloch, a homeowner on Old Slave Road that favors changing the name. "It would be more accepting. It would be more inviting. Trying to explain to people you live on Old Slave Road, there's just so much you have to go into."
Old Slave Road homeowner Karen Fox says there have been six city council meetings where the road name has been discussed, but no decision has been made. Because the road is private and maintained by the neighborhood the residents who want to change the name say it should be up to them and nobody else.
The Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission is expected to give recommendations for renaming the road. Some alternatives could include Old Slave Cemetery Road and Freedman Road.