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


The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation

Preserving African American History of Suffolk, Virginia with Integrity

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

United States Colored Troops of Oak Lawn

Unidentified African American soldier in Union cavalry uniform with cavalry saber. Library of Congress.

Private Moses Randall – Company A, 38th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry

Pvt. Moses Randall, Co. A, 38th U. S Colored Infantry. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, 2014. All rights reserved.
  • Born about 1832, Nansemond County, Virginia
  • Enlistment: January 5, 1864, Norfolk, Virginia
  • Muster: January 23, 1864, Norfolk, Virginia
  • Discharge: January 25, 1867, Indianola, Texas
  • Spouse: Ann Eliza Randall
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