Author: RyanSmith

  • How to save a small cemetery

    In light of the recent threats to small historic burying grounds in Henrico County (see Henrico County forgotten graves, redux and Unknown African American burials behind Freeman High School), I reached out to a local real estate professional, Cindy Georgallis, who has had success in these situations. She pointed me to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ Frequently…

  • Henrico County forgotten graves, redux

    Back in April 2017, I relayed some information I got from John Shuck regarding 69 graves that were recently discovered by a developer near Willow Lawn (Bremo Road and Mann Avenue) in Henrico County, all apparently dating prior to 1880. An archaeologist’s report documents the findings, though there are no surviving aboveground markers, nor much…

  • African American burials behind Freeman High School

    Yesterday, I was contacted by John Larkins, a longtime teacher at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico County. Larkins has become aware of a burial ground at the rear of the school, adjoining Ridge Baptist Church. The ground originally served an African American community with a related Baptist church, Westwood. (Someone created a Findagrave…

  • Counting graves at Barton Heights

    Jim Laidler, Cemetery Manager for the City of Richmond, has let me know that he is applying for state funds recently made available from the General Assembly as a result of H.B. 1547. This legislation offers $5 per grave for those of African American ancestry who lived before 1900 and are buried in a historical…

  • Gabriel’s anniversary

    Last night, under clear skies, Richmond’s Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality hosted what has become an annual memorial at the African Burial Ground. About fifty people attended to remember that night in August 1800 when the enslaved Henrico County blacksmith Gabriel and hundreds of his fellow conspirators sought to march on Richmond and seize the…

  • Shockoe Hill Cemetery news

    Shockoe Hill Cemetery and its friends will be active over the next several weeks. First, congratulations to Alyson L. Taylor-White, for the publication of her new book on the cemetery, entitled Shockoe Hill Cemetery: A Richmond Landmark History (History Press, 2017). Alyson has led tours at Shockoe Hill Cemetery for many years and brings its details to…

  • Charlottesville

    Heartbreaking weekend in Charlottesville, and everywhere in America. I’ve got smart friends who saw this coming, but I have to say that I did not. My work among cemetery activists of all political persuasions and backgrounds indicated to me a tremendous amount of general goodwill. That must still be true in most areas, but it…

  • Robert Rose tomb

    Back in 2013, the chest tomb erected over the grave of Robert Rose in St. John’s churchyard was named one of “Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts” in an annual listing issued by the Virginia Association of Museums. Rose, born in Scotland in 1704, had emigrated to the tobacco colony as an ordained Anglican minister in…

  • East End community conversation, and new film

    Lots going on at East End Cemetery these days. On Tuesday, June 27, at 7:00pm, the Friends of East End Cemetery will be hosting a community conversation to give a progress report on their work and share their vision for its future. The meeting, to which everyone is invited, will be held at the Robinson…

  • My introduction to John Sydnor

    Lots of folks I have been hearing from have been concerned about the recent acquisition of Evergreen Cemetery by the Enrichmond Foundation. I am still mystified as to why the local media has largely ignored this development. As far as I can tell, Jerry Lazarus’s June 2 article in the Richmond Free Press is the only…