The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery


Alexandria County Slave Births, 1853-1859

The following information has been drawn from the Birth Index of [Virginia] Slaves, 1853-1866 compiled by employees of the Work Projects Administration (originally the Works Progress Administration) between 1936 and 1939. The index, in turn, was transcribed from original manuscript records of births submitted as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia beginning in 1853 and subsequently retained by the state's Bureau of Vital Statistics. The index is a 337-page, typescript document in tabular form that is available today on microfilm from, and at, the Library of Virginia. It is arranged by the surname of the slaves' owners (or the name of others who may have reported the births to the state). The entire index has now been transcribed and edited by Leslie Anderson Morales and Ada Valaitis for publication in a series of seven volumes to be published by Heritage books in 2007. At this writing, the first volume, covering owner surnames beginning with the letters A, B and C, is available. The record below, however, is drawn directly from the microfilm, which will explain any discrepancies between the sources. The microfilm images are generally light, and the original pages may have been partly faded, rendering many entries illegible (and in one case below, the entry was partly obscured in the original manuscript ledger when the WPA tried to read it). Any mistakes are attributable to this cause or to the haste of your transcriber. For nearby Fairfax County, Virginia slave births, see African-American Births in Fairfax County, 1853-1859.

The birth entries for Alexandria County comprise a tiny portion of the overall state index. One reason is that, formerly just a piece of the 100-square-mile federal District of Columbia, the county-now known as Arlington County, but then also including what is now "Old Town" Alexandria and environs-was and remains the state's smallest in area. With the town of Alexandria, it was one of the most densely populated of the then 148 counties (prior to the Civil War-era creation of West Virginia), but it still ranked 40th in terms of total population in 1860. Many of Alexandria's enslaved African Americans had been sold south to the Mississippi Valley cotton and sugar plantations as the demand for labor there pushed up slave values, and the less agriculturally productive upper South fretted about the security implications of a large black population. As a fairly urbanized county experiencing a trend toward decreasing farm size, Alexandria's slaves frequently lived one or two to a white household or as a handful in a factory or shop, in contrast to the large field labor forces common on plantations elsewhere in the state. Although urban slaves often exercised greater physical freedom and more opportunities to earn cash by hire, outside supervision in a small city and their dispersal into white homes may have discouraged sexual relations between slaves. And although slave births created value for their owners, the support of children prior to their laboring years had to have been seen as an economic burden particularly in an urban area, and pregnancy likely a disadvantage to a household servant even in the household of a relatively compassionate master or mistress. The index undoubtedly undercounts the actual births, however, judging from the lack of thoroughness and the tardiness implied in the reports.

Births excerpted for a single county unfortunately provide a limited picture. The entire index-in its microfilm or ultimately published form-provides not only additional slave births into the war years (from the Confederate-controlled counties) but also possible connections between slaves owned by the same slaveholder but living in different counties. Even more important, it provides names and owner information for all the counties of Virginia and West Virginia, allowing for a single locale such as Alexandria the possibility of connecting migrant freed people back to their places of birth.

The order of the index information has been altered because the original entries had been by name of owner. The table below is arranged by date largely because, with only 85 births recorded, the order is perhaps less important as the names can be viewed at a glance and searched with a browser. It consists of four columns: date of birth (often approximate and sometimes possibly indicating instead the date of recordation); the name of the infant or a description, such as "male," "female," or "stillborn"; the name of the mother; and the name of the slaveowner or other informant, such as "former owner, overseer, employer, [or] guardian." If no name or other information was supplied in a column, then "not given" appears here.

Tim Dennée, April 28, 2007

D.O.B.

Name or description

Mother’s name

Owner or other informant

 

 

 

 

1853

Charles

Malvina

H.L. Monroe

1853

Charles

Ann

John T. Evans

3/1853

Frank

Margaret S.

W[illiam] A. Hart

6/1853

female

Mary Cole

J. Summers

7/1853

Thomas

Sarah

J[ohn?] T.B. Perry

7/15/1853

Margaret A. Jones

Julia Ann

William Minor

8/1853

Matilda

Martha

B.W. Hunter

8/1853

Lucinda

Susan

E.D. Scott

8/4/1853

Susan A. Crump

Julia

James Irwin

10/1853

Alice Brown

Maria

A[nthony] C[harles] Cazenove

10/1853

male

Martha

Thomas W. Swann

11/1853

Charles

Charlotte

B.W. Hunter

11/1853

Oscar

Annette

Edward Sangster

11/1853

stillborn

Caroline

C. [or Susan] Shacklett

11/8/1853

Jefferson

Eliza Carroll

Walker Harris

11/10/1853

Charlotte A. Hyson

Margaret

William Minor

11/22/1853

Sarah

Sarah

William King

12/1853

stillborn

Jane

John Hollinsbury

12/10/1853

John C. Calhoun

Delia

George N. Harper

2/1854

stillborn

Martha

R[obert] S. Ashby

4/25/1854

Lucey

Susan

W[illiam] B. Lacy [Lacey]

6/1854

Anny Bailey

Rachael Bailey

William Minor

6/1854

Edward Montgomery

Ade[line?] Montgomery

William Minor

6/30/1854

female

Malinda Bond

N[ehemiah] Hicks

7/1854

Martha

Martha

W[illiam] Bayne

7/1854

Burrel Jackson

Delilah J[ackson]

George N. Harper

8/1854

Roberta Logan

Lucy Logan

George [W.] Brent

8/1854

Nuna

Mary

R.H. Huntson

8/30/1854

female

Malvina

Jane Slaughter

9/1854

Eve Devinport

Alcinda

Charles L. Adam

9/1854

male

Nicey Morgan

E[lizabeth H.?] Gordon

11/1854

female

Sarah

Nat[haniel] Clark

1855

female

Mary Cole

J[ohn] Summers

1855

Fanny Stuart

Martha

T.E. and M.A. Swann

1855

John Adolphus

Lucy Ann

T.E. and M.A. Swann

1855

Washington Mines

S[arah] A[nn]

T.E. and M.A. Swann

3/1855

Lewis

Susan

R[obert] Brockett

5/1855

Octavia Stafford

Mary

Joseph Ball

6/1855

Drayton Bower

Jenny Bower

E[dward?] B. Addison

7/1855

female

Delia Watts

Elizabeth [H.] Gordon

8/1855

Edward Harris

Arrena Harris

Joseph Gregg

9/1855

John W. Fair

Genny (& Alfred)

B[asil] Hall

10/1855

female

Ann Gardner

A[nthony?] Frazier

10/1855

George

Sina

A[nthony?] Frazier

11/1855

male

Nelly

L.B. Hardaway

12/1855

Lucy Carter

Mary

Samuel Burch [Birch]

12/1855

female

Martha Pleasants

F[rancis] L. Smith

1856

Dolly Ann Mitchell

not given

John Hart

2/2/1856

Harrison

Louisa

Miss [Elizabeth?] Betsey Gordon

8/18/1856

female

Nelly

John [R.?] Johnston

9/17/1856

stillborn

not given

John Johnston

11/3/1856

Mary Elizabeth Jackson

Louisa J[ackson]

John N. Harper

12/29/1856

male

not given

A.E. Addison

1857

female

Elizabeth

Charles Alexander

2/4/1857

female

Susan

D[avid] S. Guinn [Gwinn]

6/1857

male

Harriott

Nancy Jordon

7/1/1857

Julia Carter

Jane Ball

J.W. Hollinsbury

8/12/1857

male

Catharine

James A. English

10/14/1857

Lucien

Mary Smith

Mrs. [Kitty?] Thompson

11/1/1857

female

Delilah [Jackson?]

George N. Harper

11/2/1857

female

Harriett

George N. Harper

12/25/1857

female twins?

Martha Hopkins?

L.R. Roberson

1858

not given

not given

B.W. Hunter

1858

not given

not given

B.W. Hunter

1858

not given

not given

B.W. Hunter

1858

not given

not given

W.F. Lee

1858

not given

not given

W.F. Lee

1858

not given

not given

W.F. Lee

1858

female

not given

John Stephenson

2/1858

male

Sarah Ann

T.E. and M.A. Swann

3/11/1858

female

Ellen

Mrs. S[ally?] Gordon

4/4/1858

female

Margaret

Elizabeth Andrews

4/19/1858

male

not given

George N. Harper

7/7/1858

George

not given

J[ames] C. Beach

9/20/1858

male

Susan Willis

W[illiam] W. Adam

10/14/1858

not given

not given

B.W. Hunter

12/6/1858

not given

Mary

T.E. and M.A. Swann

12/11/1858

female

Caroline

Samuel O. Baggott

12/15/1858

not given

not given

B.W. Hunter

12/15/1858

Mary Jane

Margaret

J.E. Douglass

1859

male

not given

B.W. Hunter

1/4/1859

male

Martha

Mr. [William W.?] Adam

4/1859

female

not given

B.W. Hunter

4/7/1859

Mary

Amanda

J.H. Hollinsbury

7/1859

female

May

Col. Robert E. Lee

11/1859

male

not given

Col. Robert E. Lee

12/21/1859

Lillie Jane

Louisa

J[ohn?] W. Campbell

Black woman and child
Mother and child at Smith's Plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862.
Photograph by Timothy H. O'Sullivan. Library of Congress.


Freedmen's Cemetery Historical Site Marker - E 109 Freedmen's Cemetery - Federal authorities established a cemetery here for newly freed African Americans during the Civil War. In January 1864, the military governor of Alexandria confiscated for use as a burying ground an abandoned pasture from a family with Confederate sympathies. About 1,700 freed people, including infants and black Union soldiers, were interred here before the last recorded burial in January 1869. Most of the deceased had resided in what is known as Old Town and in nearby rurual settlements. Despite mid-twentieth-century construction projects, many burials remain undisturbed. A list of those interred here has also survived.

Friends of Freedmenís Cemetery
638 North Alfred Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
E-mail: freedmen@juno.com

Freedmen's Cemetery Logo - This logo was designed by Alexandria Archaeology Assistant City Archaeologist, Dr. Steven Shephard, in 2006. The beautifully executed final drawing was made by Alexandria Archaeology volunteer, Mr. Andrew Flora, who made a few modifications. At the center of the logo is a headboard of the design seen in historic photographs of the Alexandria National Cemetery, established at the north end of Wilkes Street in 1862. These grave markers were supplied by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department in Alexandria and records state that this department also supplied the headboards and coffins for Freedmens Cemetery. The pine boards were whitewashed and the plot number, and presumably, the name of the deceased, and possibly the date of death, were painted in black on the headboard. The number 1864 in the logo represents the year that the cemetery was established. The black silhouette of the African American woman in the center of the board is meant to represent the people, the Freedmen, who were buried at the cemetery. Civilian men, women and many children were buried here, along with African American soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. The rays radiating from the top of the headboard are meant to represent the light of freedom, as well as the souls of the Freedmen ascending into heaven and their final reward. The F and C are for Freedmen's Cemetery. The surrounding broken chain wreath symbolizes the severed bonds of slavery which resulted from the American Civil War which transformed Alexandria and the nation.

April 29th, 2007