Duke Magazine (Winter 2018): Article featuring Oak Lawn Cemetery


The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation

Preserving African American History of Suffolk, Virginia with Integrity

Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Open House

We had a great day on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Open House! Thanks to all who braved the cold to honor this sacred ground, including: the members of the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation – President Reginald H. Dirtion, Vice-President Rev. Oulaniece Saunders, Treasurer Wilbur Holland, Jr., Historian/Secretary Nadia K. Orton; Delegate C. E. Cliff Hayes, Jr., chief sponsor, HB 2311; Suffolk Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 5; Frances McNair; Lt. Col./Chaplain William Burrell (USAF), President, Tidewater Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.; Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harry Quinton; Mike Lane, Lane Environmental Consultants; Rev. Baker; the Orton Family, and
Vice Mayor L. Bennett (Suffolk) . Also, huge thanks to M/M Hinton of Eye Catch Photos!

(Photos: courtesy R. Hinton, Eye Catch Photos, and Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation. All rights reserved)

Members of the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation with Frances McNair (left), and Delegate C. E. Cliff Hayes, Jr. (Dist. 77, center); Dennis Orton, William Goodman and Sam Jones, Suffolk Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 5
The Historic Oak Lawn Foundation with Lt. Col./ Chaplain Dr. Bill Burrell (USAF), President, Tidewater Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (left), and Dr. Harry Quinton, Tuskegee Airman (right), at the gravesite of !st. Lt. William H. Walker (1919-1943), Tuskegee Airman

Cpl. William Parks, 135th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry

Gravestone of Cpl. William Parks, Co. G, 135th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, May 26, 2018. All rights reserved

Introducing Cpl. William Parks, a newly found African American veteran of the Civil War. Nadia Orton, historian and secretary of the Foundation, first uncovered the gravestone of Cpl. Parks over the Decoration Day (Memorial Day) weekend in 2018. Cpl. Parks was born about 1843 in Mobile, Alabama. He enlisted on May 5, 1865, at the Ridgeway Depot in Warren County, North Carolina. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as five feet, seven inches tall, with a “yellow” complexion, black eyes and hair. Cpl. Parks mustered in on May 5, 1865, in Washington, D. C. He was promoted to Corporal on June 1, 1865 by special order, and mustered out four months later on October 23rd, at Louisville, Kentucky.

After his discharge from service, Cpl Parks returned to Warren County, and lived in the Smith Creek district with his wife, Lydia. In 1889, the family moved to Suffolk, Virginia. Cpl. William Parks passed away in 1897. His wife, Lydia, remained in Suffolk until her death on November 7, 1924. To date, we have not found her gravesite, but suspect she may be interred next to her husband in an unmarked grave.


The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation

Preserving African American History of Suffolk, Virginia with Integrity