Tag Archives: Education

Accomack County, Virginia: Documenting a historically African-American cemetery, Father’s Day, 2017

Documenting a historically African American cemetery on Father’s Day (June 18th), 2017, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. One of the oldest, inhabited areas of the state,  it’s become one of our favorite family destinations. The cemetery is just north of the birthplace of a family elder, who was a much beloved and respected teacher and educator of historic I. C. Norcom High School, in Portsmouth, Virginia. Unfortunately, most of the oldest sections of the cemetery were too overgrown for closer investigation, and my father warned of snakes and other dangers that may have been hidden by the overgrowth. We observed some areas that had been cleared by family members in order to reach their ancestors’ gravesites, perhaps in observance of Decoration Day, or Father’s Day. It was an encouraging thought; we’ll return soon in the hope of further exploration.  ♥

Accomack County African American cemetery copyright 2017 Nadia Orton

Historical African American cemetery in Accomack County, Virginia

 

African American cemetery Accomack Virginia copyright 2017 Nadia Orton

Historical African American cemetery in Accomack County, Virginia

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Filed under Accomack County, Civil War, In Memoriam, Portsmouth, Stories in Stone, Suffolk, Virginia

An African American cemetery in Virginia

Black cemetery copyright 2017 Nadia Orton

An African American cemetery in Virginia

 

On the road, and visiting an African American cemetery in Virginia. We’ve seen so many of these before; some in which our ancestors are interred. Acknowledged and preserved over generations, extant through the efforts of families and communities, despite all hardships and historical and current discrimination. Sacred ground; graves identified by modern stone, some handmade, or marked through memory and heritage.

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Filed under In Memoriam, The Descendants Corner, Virginia

On Memorial Day, Reflecting on African-American History – The National Trust for Historic Preservation

First Memorial Day plaque Charleston SC Copyright Nadia Orton 2015

Plaque honoring the first Memorial Day in the United States. Hampton Park, Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 6, 2015

 

Every May, the nation marks Memorial Day, the longstanding tradition we use to recognize fallen veterans. The holiday has its origins in “Decoration Day,” originally held in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, when thousands of former slaves, Union soldiers, and missionaries honored Union soldiers who had died in a Confederate prison and were subsequently buried in a makeshift mass grave.

Historian David Blight recounts that after the soldiers’ proper burials, a massive parade followed. Participants decorated the graves with flowers, and clergy delivered speeches to commemorate the fallen.

My personal introduction to Decoration Day began with oral histories provided by my family’s elders. In rural Tidewater, Virginia, they told stories of Decoration Day commemorations stretching back to the 1880s. Parades began in African-American communities and ended at local black cemeteries. Families and friends honored their ancestors through song and praise, while their graves were cleaned and re-decorated.

They had good reason to pay homage: Many veterans had returned from the front lines of war to become leaders in their communities, forming masonic lodges, burial societies, schools, churches, and cemeteries. These institutions formed the foundations of post-Civil War African-American communities, giving their communities potential for the very type growth and development African-Americans had been denied in slavery. READ MORE…

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Filed under Charleston County, Civil War, Craven County, Mississippi, New Hanover County, New York, North Carolina, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Slavery, South Carolina, U. S. Colored Troops, USCT Diaries, Virginia

Warren County, North Carolina – Earth Day, 2017: Trees, branches, and documenting family roots

IMG_20170422_154125283 - Copy (2)

Warren County, North Carolina

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April 22, 2017 · 9:45 pm

Warren County, North Carolina: Exploring an old Rosenwald School

Warren County NC Rosenwald Orton

A view of an old Rosenwald School, Warren County, North Carolina

Exploring an old Rosenwald School in Warren County, North Carolina. Our 83-year old guide, a former student of the school, is a newfound maternal cousin. We’re related through the same set of great-grandparents, my great-great-great-great grandparents, and his great-great-great grandparents, who are buried in a slave cemetery we visited last year. ♥

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Filed under North Carolina, Slavery, Warren County

Elizabeth City, NC: Elizabeth City State University’s Beginnings, 1891

Elizabeth City State University historical marker. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1973.

Elizabeth City State University historical marker. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1973. Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013.

 

Principal Peter W. Moore and students at what’s now Elizabeth City State University in 1899. Image from ECSU Archives. (Source: NC Culture)

“On March 3, 1891, legislation passed creating a Normal and Industrial School in Elizabeth City. The school was founded with the express purpose of ‘teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.’

The bill began in the House of Representatives and was championed by Hugh Cale, an African American who represented Pasquotank County. Cale, who was a free person of color before the Civil War, had been involved in African American education immediately following the Civil War and served on the Pasquotank County Board of Education.

The campus of what’s now Elizabeth City State University, circa 1938-39. Image from ECSU Archives. (Source NC Culture)

The Normal School extended its mission under the guidance of its first principal, Peter Weddick Moore. In 1937, it expanded from a two-year program to a four-year teacher’s college and received a new name to reflect that change–Elizabeth City Teachers College. The first bachelor’s degree was awarded by the school in 1939 in elementary education.

In 1972, the college became part of the consolidated University of North Carolina system and was renamed Elizabeth City State University. To commemorate the school’s centennial in 1991, the General Assembly honored Cale and the university with a bill setting a special mock session.”

Source: Elizabeth City State University’s Beginnings, 1891


 

I visited Oak Grove Cemetery (est. 1886), on November 2, 2013. Included below are photographs of the gravestone of Hugh Cale (1829-1909), Oak Grove Cemetery’s entrance gate, and the historical marker and street sign placed in honor of Hugh Cale.

Gravestone of Hugh Cale (1829-1909)

Gravestone of Hugh Cale (1829-1909). November 2, 2013, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

 

Hugh Cale Elizabeth City Orton 2013

“Hugh Cale – Pasquotank County Commissioner and North Carolina Legislator. Introduced legislation to establish Elizabeth City State Teachers College. Bill passed March 3, 1891.”

 

Gravestone of Hugh Cale

Gravestone of Hugh Cale

 

Hugh Cale Historical Marker Orton Elizabeth City NC 2013

Hugh Cale historical marker. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1994.

 

Street sign in honor of Hugh Cale. Elizabeth City, NC, 2013

Street sign in honor of Hugh Cale. Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 2013

 

Oak Grove Cemetery Elizabeth City, Orton 2013

Oak Grove Cemetery entrance, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. November 2, 2013

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Filed under North Carolina, Pasquotank County

Chesapeake, Virginia: The Sykes Cemetery, Cornland

Sykes Cemetery Cornland Chesapeake Virginia

Researching the souls interred, Sykes Cemetery, Cornland, Chesapeake

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February 9, 2016 · 5:18 pm

The Descendants Corner: Update re: The Savage Family, Mt. Calvary Cemetery

Pvt. Alfred Savage replacement gravestone Portsmouth Va. Orton

Pvt. Alfred Savage (1837-1899), Company D, 2nd Regiment, United States Colored Cavalry.               Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.

The replacement gravestone for Pvt. Alfred Savage, of Co. D, 2nd Regiment, U. S. Colored Cavalry, recently installed in Mt. Calvary Cemetery. His descendants, whom we met last year, visited his gravesite over the weekend. I wrote a short article about finding Pvt. Savage in the cemetery, and his descendants, who have made significant contributions to the City of Portsmouth. We still have a long way to go…necessary mapping of gravesites (through ground-penetrating radar), drainage studies, and other issues are vital to the long-term preservation plan for the cemetery complex, where thousands of individuals, including our ancestors, lie. However, accomplishments such as these are always a great reminder of why “we do what we do.” For family, for preservation, and for history. Again, thanks so much to the Savage Family for allowing us to take part in this journey. ♥

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Filed under Civil War, Portsmouth, Stories in Stone, Suffolk, The Descendants Corner, Tombstone Files, Tombstone Tales, U. S. Colored Troops, USCT Diaries, Virginia

Protected: In Memoriam: Dr. Eugene Jeremiah Bass, Sr. Lincoln Memorial Cemetery

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Protected: In Memoriam: Van Buren Luke, Mt. Calvary Cemetery

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Filed under In Memoriam, New York, Virginia