Oak Lawn Cemetery database

Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 4, 2020. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately, Oak Lawn Cemetery is currently in a serious state of disrepair. The sacred grounds look terrible, with most of the gravestones hidden by three to six feet of weeds. The grass has been cut only once this year, in late April, after we notified several groups of the cemetery’s condition through photographs. It is not safe for any family members to visit, as the uneven grounds, hidden graves, and snakes from the nearby ravine that borders the cemetery, are present dangers. The broken trees and branches from Tropical Storm Isaias (August, 2020) remain, and the dead trees we offered to pay to remove (the offer was declined), from 2018, are still there. two and one-half years later. We hope this represents a small bump in the road for physical preservation efforts for Oak Lawn Cemetery, and the current stewards will address these issues sooner than later. It must be said that the ongoing COVID pandemic, coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures and heavy rainfall, may have played a role.

This unfortunate development hasn’t stopped our ongoing research on this important African American institution. Our mapping project of all extant gravestones is nearly complete, and we have added over two thousand confirmed, pre-1915 interments to the official cemetery database. None of these names are featured in any published medium concerning Suffolk, Virginia history. Due to a five-hundred percent increase in visitation to our website within the last week, and subsequent concerns of theft of intellectual property, we will be publishing the Oak Lawn interment database in other formats. We’ll soon be incorporated, and perhaps launch our own clean-up effort, or assist with others, in the upcoming months to properly respect the ancestors.

If anyone is looking for family members, please contact us today for database research requests. More to come…


Leave a Reply