Announcing “The Alexandria’s Freedmen’s Cemetery: A Legacy of Freedom Book Pre Orders

Now Available –Alexandria’s Freedmen’s Cemetery: A Legacy of Freedom

First, I want to thank all of the descendants for giving me the opportunity to research and connect their family to the Freedmen’s Cemetery. I truly feel that their ancestors have made me a part of their family.

The book is now available through Amazon at

Also the book is available through the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM) in Alexandria, VA. I will be launching my book signing at ABHM on February 9, 2019. If you live in the area, you might want to buy the book in Alexandria from ABHM. Some of the proceeds will go to the Alexandria Black History Museum.

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From Slavery to Principal

John F. Parker
Snowden School for Boys

Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on, “From Slavery to Principal” February 28, 2019.

I have been researching John F. Parker, the second principal of Snowden School for Boys for a number of years, I found that his accomplishments and his strength to endure hardship and health issues were extremely courageous.

He was born into slavery on his owner’s plantation in Alexandria. After he was emancipated, he worked for several years before becoming a teacher then a principal. Unfortunately for him and his wife, their only child died before his 10th birthday. John had a brother, William Madison Mason Parker who married Mary Hooe. They had several children. Through his brother’s children and grandchild, John’s legacy is known today. His great-nephews and nieces are the Taylor family, Donald, Charlene, John and Alvin; his Dogan family, Bettie and Thelma (Sugar); his Burke family is Frances Burke; he also has many more relatives and great-great nieces and nephews that hold their heads up high because John was such a great man.

You can read the article, “From Slavery to Principal, from the Alexandria Gazette Packet on page 6 at

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Working in the City’s Glass Factories

Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on, “Working in the City’s Glass Factories” January 31, 2019.

Many of the early factories in the City of Alexandria employed African Americans especially children and women. One of these factories was the Glass Factory. Most of the African Americans who worked for the Glass Factory lived in the neighborhood of “Cross Canal.”

Some of the families that were working there were:

Lloyd Montgomery Arnold, the son of James and Lizzie (Mary Elizabeth) Arnold. Lloyd had several siblings; Lawrence, Estella (Estelle), Laura O and Thomas.

Abraham Brown, he was married to Elizabeth Brown. Abraham lived on First Street. He was a skilled carpenter working at the Glass Factory. He owned his own property at 327 First Street.

Chauncey Randolph, he was a wagon driver for the Glass Factory. His wife was Susie Randolph and they had a three-year old child, Leonard in the household 1920.

Chris Mason, he was a laborer at the Glass Factory. He lived in the household of his mother, Mary and his siblings John and Rose. They lived on First Street.

Walter Johnson, he was a laborer at the Glass Factory. He was born in Maryland but he lived at 711 Jefferson Street in Alexandria, Virginia in 1910. In his household was his wife, Bertha, and his children, Dorothy and Walter, Jr.

Charley Hall, he was a helper at the Glass Factory. He lived on Pendleton Street with his parents Walter and Mahaley Hall.

Joseph Dudley, he was a laborer at the Glass Factory. He lived on Franklin Street with his father Louis and siblings: Francis, Louis, Jr., Charlotte, and Isham. His nephews’ Herbert and Marion were also in the household.

You can read the article, “Working in the City’s Glass Factories, from the Alexandria Gazette Packet on page 8 at

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Esther Chapter #23: Over 100 Years of Service

Front Row: Lillian Williams, Josephine Ford, Laverne Lewis they are the oldest ladies in our chapter (Seated)
2nd Row: Deborah Ford, Linda Payton, Tom Robinson, Annette Fletcher, Rosie Ford
3rd Row: Aquila Biddle, Michelle Baldwin, Omeara Banks,
4th Row: Lisa Logan, Lenora Biddle, Pamela Moore, Lorrie Smith, Shirley Ross, Joseph Parker (Not Picture).

Behind the scene, the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on “Esther Chapter #23: Over 100 Years of Service dated January 17, 2019.

The Esther Chapter #23 started one-hundred and eleven years ago in Alexandria, Virginia. The Chapter has eight-two past Worthy Matrons since 2017. There were twenty-five past Worthy Matrons from 1909 – 1949. These Matrons were:

Clara Lucas (1909-1923)
Katie Jackson (1923-1924)
Bessie Moore (1924-1925)
Katie Franklin (1925-1926)
Laura Dorsey (1926-1927)
Mary Redd (1927-1928)
Carrie Burrell (1928-1929)
Mary Dorsey (1929-1930)
Elnora Littlejohn (1930-1932)
Benje V. Burke (1932-1933)
Catherine Holland (1933-1934)
Mazie Bouldin (1934-1935)
Emma Simmons (1935-1936)
Etta P. (B. Robinson) (1936-1937)
Lucy Washington (1937-1938)
Cora Henry (1938-1939)
Fannie Tucker (1939-1940)
B.M. Kemis (1940-1941)
Evelyn Brooks (1941-1942)
Esther Neal (1942-1943)
Fedora Lucy (1943-1944)
Marie Bowden (Gale) (1944-1945)
Ruth H. Wright (1945-1946)
Irene Terrell (1946-1947)
Bessie Barbour Reynolds (1947-1949)

You can read the rest of the story on page 13, at of the Alexandria Gazette Packet Newspaper at

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Private Conny Gray – Spanish-American War

25th USCT, Company H During Spanish-American War

Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on Conny Gray dated January 2, 2019.

Conny Gray was born around 1863 to Martha and John Gray. Martha was born in 1820s as a free woman. Some of Martha’s other siblings were, Alfred Gray, William H. Gray, the father to Sarah A. Gray of Parker-Gray School and Selina Gray.

In this research, I found that Sarah A. Gray was the first cousin to Conny Gray. Also it is believed that Conny’s father could have been a slave. As early as 1860, Conny’s mother was the head of the household in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. It is possible that Conny’s father was not a freed person in 1860. Conny name was recorded in one of the censuses as Constance. It seems that Conny did not like the name Constance because during his adult life he used the name Conny.

Conny married a well-known teacher, Sarah Derrick(s) whose family was freed prior to the Civil War. Sarah taught at Hallowell School for girls and later was selected as one of the first teachers of Parker-Gray School in 1920.

After the death of Sarah Derrick(s) Gray, local researchers had mistaken her as the person that Parker-Gray was named after. The school was named after Sarah A. Gray who was single and who never married. She was the first cousin to Conny Gray. What Sarah D. Gray and Sarah A. Gray had in common are that both of them taught at Hallowell School for girls and both of them came from free-people-of-color prior to the Civil War.

After those similarities, Sarah A. Gray stands out. She was once the principal of Hallowell School for girls. She came from a prominent family. Her father owned large amounts of real estate and he was a butcher. On the death of her father, it was written in the newspaper that he was one of the wealthiest Negroes in the United States. He left his wealth to his second wife, his daughter and his nephew.

For Private Conny Gray, his surviving descendants are John Gray, Eleanor Gray-Cheeks and others. They were members of Roberts Chapel (known today as Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church).

You can read Private Conny’s story in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper at


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