Nadia Orton, a genealogist and family historian in Virginia, poses next to tombstones at the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Portsmouth, Va., Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Orton has worked tracing her own family and others to historically Black cemeteries. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Honestly, we’ve lost count!
To be revealed
What a treat it must be to meet and be able to interview a man like Mr. Johnson. Enjoyed this post very much.
This is a detailed genealogy for the fortunate family who chances upon it. I truly hope that someone discover if that is Simon’s stone and restore it to where it belongs.
Good Day to you Orton: A friend shared the article printed in the winter 2018 Duke Magazine. It is a treasure! Thank you many times over for this wonderful work and the determination to continue. Your story and work truly resonated with me. In Lexington, KY we too have a historic cemetery that holds the stories of our early generations and my ancestors. It has been a journey to uncover their lives and extraordinary accomplishments. In 2010 a communications director at the Lexington Public Library approached us about doing a documentary. We concurred. The result – Eight Acres of History- can be viewed on YouTube. Hope that you can view and take courage from it. Yvonne Giles
Find-a-Grave Volunteer of the Month: Deservedly so!
You are doing great work Nadia. I wish I lived closer – I would be happy to help out with your projects. This is very interesting work that you are doing for the community. Very proud of what you do. Thank you, Robin
Nadia, We are in the process of gearing up to restore a Union fort in Western Branch that is remarkably well -preserved. It is located near where Jolliffe Road crosses Goose Creek. No definitive name exists for it as we can find in the records. Our question is were any USCT units stationed there at any time. It was near a mill referred to as David’s Mill or Wright’s mill at the time of the war. I know you have done a great deal of work in the area on USCT soldiers. Any help you could lend to answer this question would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Sam Leary 757-362-2499
I too was delighted to read about your discovery and the dedication which you have given to this vast project. It seems, that I share a similar dedication. When I began doing my family’s research more than 10 years ago, I did not think that I would still have a desire to continue today, however; I am inspired by you, because I don’t feel alone, I don’t feel as if I am addicted to the past and those who have died before me. I don’t feel so weird, wanting to know who my Great Grandfather John Self’s father was. I only wish that the people who remain, and could answer questions and share their stories would do so; for I am hungry for the knowing, and gleeful in the findings. I don’t want to step on toes or dig deeply, but my interest is taking me to where you have been, to the Cemeteries in VA., To the Churches in Middlesex County, VA., and Abingdon Gloucester, VA. We must remember those who died before us and bring honor to their names. Thank you for sharing.
Congratulations on the ongoing preservation of the African-American History story. I understand the research and submitting paperwork may be time consuming but is worthwhile. My plan is to have the new military stone for Corporal Edward Mingo 36 USCT installed in Mount Olive Cemetery during the Fall of 2018. Best regards,Charles E. Johnson, Jr.Edward Mingo DescendantHistorian by Nature & Profession
Very nice post, enjoyed reading it very much.
Beautiful work as always Nadia!
Thanks for another informative piece of Portsmouth African-American History. Charles
A wonderfully researched, written and compiled genealogy of Simon’s ancestors and his decedents. Your reasoning is sound, and I know you are 99%, as right as you can be! Thanks for honoring this man and his life. I was from Portsmouth and ran across this while doing research. I am over-joyed at all you have done. Wake up Portsmouth and protect this stone! Donna Greene Kaiser (Mrs. Robert E.) 1011 Ferndale Blvd. High Point, North Carolina 27262 Immediate Past President of the High Point Historical Society
Do it Nadia! Knew you were a super hero!
I enjoyed the way you told the story and recognized the pull of a gravestone of someone outside of our family. And I like the way you note your sources.
This is fantastic research and a wonderful story! A large branch of my Af-Am family tree runs through Portsmouth (Bains/Baynes, Cross, Lucas). So glad I found your site. I look forward to continuing to read your posts and supporting documents.
Nadia – curious about your thoughts on an abandoned African-American cemetery in Chesapeake, VA. It is the Pinegrove Cemetery in the Glenn Eagle subdivision off Eagle Dr. behind a house in the cul-de-sac. Also referenced as the “Floyd Smith” cemetery as it is on the land he and his wife owned but they are both deceased. The City of Chesapeake does not show a current owner besides the address of the Smiths. I have been told there are veterans buried there I am guessing WWII. Someone in Chesapeake brought this to my attention about a year ago and asked me to locate the owners which I did. I have not been to the site but understand it is quite overgrown with some of the vaults exposed. Thank you for any direction in this matter.
Excellent web page!!! Love all the info!
Thank you for replacing the headstone of my great-great-great-grandfather (Arthur Beasley).
I found great comfort knowing you did this for them. I’m sure they are saying Thank You for remembering us. Great and Heartwarming Nadia. Very sweet and kind what you did. Makes me want to keep stopping every time I see a Black Cemetery. God Keep You for doing this.
Thank you for publicizing the cemetery that is connected to the Cornland School on Benefit Road. Our foundation is working to restore the old school building. Amanda Sykes, a teacher at Cornland, is buried there. Any help on further research is needed for our project. Thank you Nadia.
Such a sad story. I’m certain the angels appreciate the work you’re doing to remember lives past.
Good research. My father was Jesse Savage born in Portsmouth, Virginia on Feb. 5, 1900. I have to visit Portsmouth this year for some of my personal research. Thank you.
I really enjoyed reading this article. I myself have had the chance to participate in cleaning of the cemetery. Great Story.
Thank you for your work. Would you be able to share a link to the source file of the 1862 map of James City County? I wasn’t able to find it at the Library of Congress.
Thank you Ms. Orton for this wonderful blog and info. My husband and I own a masonry restoration company in Norfolk and are learning cemetery preservation. We have started a volunteer group to bring training and work sessions to support cemeteries who need our services.We have volunteered our services to Mt. Calvary complex and would like to connect with you. Thanks again for all you do for the ancestors and those searching for them!
I am so happy you have made this wonderful contribution. You are a great writer, I love the way you pull me into the story, and I can’t wait to know more! I knew you could do this! Most excellent!
As long as we have people like you these ancestors will never be forgotten. You are telling their story so they will live on and add to the fabric of our lives.
Hello, Ms. Orton, I am a (Black) Coston Descendant and noticed that you have photographed grave stones/markers at the Canaan Temple AME Zion Church in Edenton, NC. I have a few photographs of some of the graves of my Coston relatives, but am missing others. I am sure you charge a fee for your services. . . . It has been many many years since I’ve been to Edenton, and realize I need to return in order to get past the wall of slavery. Do you have any tips I can use or direct me to so that I can get additional information not available on Ancestry? Your direction is most appreciated. Linda A. White Coston Descendant
What a wonderful story Nadia. I invite you and your family to attend our 2015 Underground Railroad Homecoming Day at the Dismal Swamp State Park in South Mills, NC next August. The story of your ancestor, Daniel Orton, escaping from Sleepy Hole (Suffolk, VA) to Baltimore hits close to home. My family currently lives in this area of Suffolk and have roots in Baltimore, Virginia and NC. My husband Eric had created the UGRR Homecoming Day to honor the legacy and memory of our ancestors who worked and helped others to pass through the UGRR in Virginia and North Carolina. Please visit our website at http://www.diversityrestoration.com for details. We also have an UGRR Experience Day tour which takes people to places along the UGRR in Hampton Roads and NE North Carolina. Eric is developing an international project called the UGRR Homecoming Center with hopes to have it developed in Isle of Wight Co (Carrollton) by 2019 the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade beginnings. It will untold house stories like your ancestors and be used to educate the public on our undocumented public history. Please feel free to reach out to us at 757-967-0062.
Ms Orton, I have just recently started the genealogy search for our family (Goldman-Cuffee of Norfolk/Princess Anne counties) but I love and am inspired by your work. Thank you for being a guide. We will be visiting local cemeteries to help write these stories. Your work is appreciated.
Dear Nadia, You are an angel keeping vigil over those who came before us. Just read your wonderful profile the the Duke magazine. I’m from a town of 800 in SE Alabama. Grew up under the influence of my great-uncle who was the caretaker of the cenetery. Distraught about disappearing black cemeteries I decided to make sure our Hardshell Cemetery would survive. I erected a cemetery marker which is black granite measuring 6 feet tall x 3 feet wide and 8” depth. On the road side is the name of the cemetery. Former county maps listed it as nigger cemetery. On the back side is my portrait of my great uncle and his family history back to 1825. Due to this market a Find A Grave writer/photographer recorded the land and you can find it under, hardshell cemetery coffee county alabama. Once the cemetery was in the middle of nowhere. It’s 5 miles from town. Now, whites are buying oroperty around it’s edges. Recently, an adjoing property came up for sale and I bought .75 acre for expansion because they are running out if room. I did all of this because my great uncle cared somuch for his people and in his honor I do what little I can to carry on his tradition for my community. Stay string, stay focused, stay well and may God continue to bless you. Chester Huggins 917.439.0079 #chesterhiggins12
This is such a helpful blog to so many who live in the area around those cemeteries. I man so glad that you continue to do this work and even more delighted that now you are writing about it!
Thank you for the significant work and energy poured into making the Oak Lawn Cemetery matter. I was in Suffolk Monday and missed this location. Me and my family will return again soon to research DeLoatch and Parker family members that are resting at Oak Lawn.