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Louisa Historical Society project will help mark unidentified African-American graves

Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

Doris Williams (l) and her cousin Gloria Gilmore uncovered one large marker stone in a cemetery on former Watson land. The Watson family owned both women’s enslaved ancestors. This site was recorded in the African-American burial site registry.

Would you know if you’ve ambled over a long forgotten unmarked grave site in the woods, a field or in some other unsuspected location? Most people probably wouldn’t.

But knowing what to look for is vital in helping the Louisa County Historical Society in its quest to document the unmarked or unidentified gravesites of African-American people who once lived in the county.

Anthropologist Dr. Lynn Rainville, of Sweet Briar College, will talk about finding and preserving these gravesites on Saturday, March 18 from 10:30 a.m. until noon at the Louisa Arts Center. Jim Hare, director of historic registry at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, will discuss the rights of property owners and descendants of those who are buried.

“Will the Stones Whisper Their Names?” is an initiative partially funded with a $4,500 grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and a $2,000 grant from Preservation Virginia to locate, identify, document and protect African-American gravesites in Louisa County.

This is the third community-based project led by Louisa County Historical Society Director Elaine Taylor in the past three years to illuminate the history of people of color in the county. The first involved an inventory and documentation of Louisa County’s African-American schools that was completed in 2007. The fruits of that effort can be viewed on the Louisa Heritage website that was created using materials from the study.

To read the entire story, see the March 9 edition of The Central Virginian.

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