Update – City of Alexandria, VA Public Hearing on Contrabands & Freedmen’s Cemetery

This post is an update for Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery descendants, Alexandria residents, and the public about new developments regarding the cemetery site. Located at 1001 S. Washington St, the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery is the burial ground for more than 1,700 “contraband of war.” “Contrabands” was a term used for enslaved Africans seeking protection and freedom behind the Union Defenses in Alexandria during the Civil War.

Many of the enslaved men, women and children who made the arduous journey to Alexandria were eventually buried on this site – a site later desecrated by a gas station and an office building. In 2007, the City of Alexandria reclaimed the land, and in 2013, a cemetery memorial to Alexandria’s Contrabands and Freedmen will open on this site.

The Alexandria City Council would appreciate hearing from the descendants of those buried in the cemetery, and residents interested in Alexandria’s contraband history, as they move forward in naming this historic landmark. In the coming weeks, City Council discussions and a public hearing will be held about the formal name for the Cemetery memorial. The name currently used is “Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial”; however, the official name for the site has not yet been determined.
City Council wants to know your opinion about the use of the historic terms “contrabands” and “freedmens.” Your comments will assist Council as they determine the name for this landmark.

• Why Contrabands? This is a military term used during the Civil War. Contraband status was used to protect enslaved Africans who sought protection from the Union. By making enslaved Africans “contraband of war,” they could be protected and used to aid the Union cause. Enslaved Africans who were “contraband of war,” were considered property, and as such could not be returned to their masters. The use of “contraband” was not meant to be derogatory, but to reflect the transitory status of those seeking protection from Union forces.

• Why Freedmen? This term refers to African Americans before and after the Civil War. It indicates their status as free people. This term was in use before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but became a widely used word in the American lexicon with the 1865 creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau. In the 19th century, the terms “contraband” and “freedmen” were often used interchangeably.

These historic terms are part of our Nation’s “contraband heritage.” Please let the City Council know your views about their use as part of the name for the future memorial.

Comments may be emailed to Dr. Pamela Cressey, Director, City Archaeology, at pamela.cressey@alexandriava.gov. You may also want to attend one of the meetings listed below, and share your thoughts. Help the Alexandria make history, and preserve an important part of our city’s Civil War story.

Public Meetings and Events:
• Tuesday, May 22: Introduction of Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Docket Item, Alexandria City Council Legislative meeting, 7 p.m., City Hall, 301 King St.
• Saturday, June 16: Alexandria City Council Public Hearing (public comment is invited), 7 p.m. – City Hall.
• Saturday, July 7: Groundbreaking Ceremony, Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery site, 1001 S. Washington St., 9 a.m.

City of Alexandria, Virginia Public Hearing on Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery

Memorandum-VDHR-Richmond/Register Program
To: Alexandria Gazette
Attn: Andrea Smith/ Phone: 703-778-9411
Email: classified@connectionnewspapers.com

From: Marc Wagner, Designation Programs Manager,
Virginia Department of Historic Resources, (804-482-6099)
Email: marc.wagner@dhr.virginia.gov

Date: April 27th, 2012

Subject: Notice of Public Hearing for Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery, City of Alexandria

Please run the following notice in your Meetings section of Legal Notices:
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources will hold a Public Information Hearing to discuss the proposed Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery nomination to the state and national registers, in City of Alexandria, VA. The Public Hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Lloyd House, 220 South Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Public comment regarding the proposal will be taken at the time of the hearing or can be sent to: Director Kathleen Kilpatrick, VA Department of Historic Resources, 2801 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221. This proposal has been recommended eligible for the Virginia Landmarks and National
Register. Proposals will be presented to the State Review Board and the Historic Resources Board on June 21, 2012 in Richmond, VA. For a copy of the proposal and/or a boundary map, contact Marc Wagner, VA Department of Historic Resources, 804-482-6099 or
Please address the bill for this notice to Tiffany Cunningham, accounts payable, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Administration Office, 10 Courthouse Avenue, Petersburg, VA 23803. Phone: 804-862-6193/ Email: tiffany.cunningham@dhr.virginia.gov / FAX: 804-862-6196.
Please send a confirmation of receipt of this memo and a price quote to Marc Wagner by FAX (804-367-2391), or by email: marc.wagner@dhr.virginia.gov.

Please send a certificate of publication or affidavit of publication to Tiffany Cunningham, Procurement Officer, VDHR Administrative Services, 10 Courthouse Avenue, Petersburg, VA 23803.

Thank you.

Descendants of the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery

 In April 2008, the City of Alexandria, Virginia asked me to assist them in locating descendants of the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery. The history of the Cemetery is connected to the Civil War. Over 1,200 African Americans were buried in the Freedmen Cemetery.

Most of those African Americans were from Alexandria, from various parts of the counties of Virginia, Maryland and a small number came from other States. They all found refuge in Alexandria during the Civil War. For more history on the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery, please visit “The Friends of Freedmen’s Cemetery” site at http://www.freedmenscemetery.org/.

The City of Alexandria, Virginia wants to recognize the descendants of the Freedmen Cemetery. Please go to the Alexandria Archaeology Museum’s web site that discusses the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial at http://alexandriava.gov/FreedmenMemorial.

Since 2008, I have identified over one hundred descendants of the Freedmen Cemetery. I am still looking for their descendants. If you have more than four generations of families from Alexandria, Virginia and your surname is on this list http://www.freedmenscemetery.org/burials/burials.pdf, please contact me through my web e-mail address. The City of Alexandria is building the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial at the Freedmen Cemetery, which is located at Washington and Church Streets in Alexandria.

Construction will start in May 2012. A dedication ceremony will take place in 2013 for the Freedmen and the Descendants. If you would like your family to be recognized during this event, please contact me.

As of date, these families have been identified as the descendants of the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery:

Reverend James P. Aston and Family of Virginia
Judy Coles-Bailey and Family of New York and Maryland
Terry Coles and Family of New Jersey
Beatrice Cross-Taylor and Family of Virginia
Ferdinand T. Day and Family of Virginia
Gwen Day-Fuller and Family of Virginia and Massachusetts
James Henson, Sr., Esquire and Family of Virginia
Mary Morris and Family of Virginia
Kenneth F. Majors and Family of Virginia
Kevin F. Majors and Family of Virginia
Carolyn Phillips McCrae of Maryland
Norman M. Reynolds, Jr. of Maryland
Brittany Williams of Virginia
Clarence McKenney of Virginia
Wendy McKenney Jackson of Virginia
Jasmine Jackson Lee of Virginia
Tia Jackson of Virginia
Tamera Jackson of Virginia
Sabrina McKenney Bussie of Maryland
Ashley McKenney of Virginia
Brenda McKenney of Virginia
Vernon Bussie of Virginia
Eric McKenney of Virginia
Betty Wade of Maryland
Francis Wade of Maryland
Edna Cary of Maryland
Norma Jean Jennings Turner and Family of Virginia and Maryland
Frances Colbert Terrell and Family of Virginia
Roland Burke and Family of Michigan
Frances Burke and Family of Virginia
Doris (Dottie) Hughes and Family of Virginia
Harry Burke and Family of Virginia
Margaret Chisley of Virginia
Beatrice Wright of Virginia
Katie Lou Wright of Virginia
Eunice Wright Jones of Virginia
Lillian Stanton Patterson and Family of Virginia
Lois Diggs and Family of Virginia
Bertrum Drayton of Maryland
Eugene Shanklin Drayton of Virginia
Sharon Dunlop Green and Family of Virginia
Rosalind Drayton Lanford and Family of Maryland
Delores Wilhoit Peake and Family of Virginia
Karen Suggs and Family of Virginia
Clyde G. Fairfax of Maryland
Wanda Ellis of Maryland
Sylvester I. Gaines and Family of Maryland
Samuel (Sammie) Shanklin and Family of Virginia and Washington, DC
Charlene Taylor Napper and Family of Virginia
Donald Lee Taylor and Family of Virginia
John Leonard Taylor and Family of Virginia
Charles A. Taylor and Family of Virginia
Theola Martin Chambers of Virginia
Carol Ann Haskins Daniels and Family of Virginia
William Jackson’s family of Washington, DC
Phyllis Roy Tate’s family of Virginia and DC
Shirley Sanders Steele and Family of Virginia
William Holt, Jr. of Virginia
Michael Lee of Virginia
Mary Louise Cooper of Virginia
Angela J. Sanders of Virginia
Kirk Sanders of Virginia
Tyrone Sanders and Family of North Carolina
Karen Smith of Virginia
Kim Tucker of Maryland
Ester V. Butler and Family of Virginia
Andrew Johnson and Family of Georgia
Antoinette Lightfoot and Family of Virginia
James Lightfoot and Family of Virginia
Bernice Robinson Lee and Family of Virginia
Keith Cave and Family of North Carolina
Betty Dogan Nicholas and Family of West Virginia and Maryland
Adrienne Washington and Family of Virginia
Calvin Terrell and Family of Virginia
Montess Sanders Wales and Family of Virginia
Irene Gaskins Macklin and Family of Virginia
Lucian Johnson of and Family Washington, DC
Dorothy Beatrice Hall Smith and Family of Washington, DC
Dr. Elisha G. Hall and Family of Virginia
Matthew A. Hall and Family of Virginia
Nathaniel Hall and Family of New York
Arthur L. Nelson, Sr. and Family of Virginia
Charles H. Nelson, Sr. and Family of Virginia
Howard Dishman and Family of Virginia
Dorthea Bentley Campbell and Family of Virginia
Patricia Roy’s children of Maryland
Joyce P. Anderson Abney and Family of Washington, DC and Maryland
Fayrene Richardson and Family of Maryland
Frances Norton Burton and Family of California
Henry Norton and Family of Virginia and Maryland
Elizabeth Brooks Evans and Family of Maryland
Zunny (Zunnie) Matema of Maryland
Rita Murphy Harris and Family of New Jersey
Karen Ambush Thande and Family of Maryland
Sandy Porter and Family

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