The "Colored Dead": African American Burying Grounds in a Confederate Stronghold

Author(s): Alison Bell

Year: 2018


Some call Lexington, Virginia the place "where the South went to die": Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are buried there, along with countless Confederate soldiers. The extent to which the South truly expired is controversial, given for example the continuing, frequent presence of enthusiasts with gray uniforms and battle flags. How, in this context, have African Americans been memorialized? This paper considers marked and unmarked antebellum burials, Reconstruction-era graves, and African American burying grounds’ encounters with development. A young woman’s remains were found during municipal construction, for instance; other burials were moved for highway expansion, and the "colored dead" might or might not have been relocated before their cemetery became a neighborhood. Facing such structural inequalities and moves toward erasure, African Americans persisted in creating poignant memorial spaces – affirming their loved ones’ full humanity – through grave goods, votive objects, and grave makers’ symbols and epitaphs. 

Cite this Record

The "Colored Dead": African American Burying Grounds in a Confederate Stronghold. Alison Bell. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441742)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 435