The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery

Townsend Derrix, runaway, 1857

From William Still, The Underground Rail Road, (William Still, 1871), pp. 460-461.

The above-named escaped from a "Dutchman" by the name of Gallipappick [Gottlieb Appich], who was in the confectionery business. For the credit of our German citizens, it may be said, that slave-holders within their ranks were very few. This was a rare case. The Committee were a little curious to know how the German branch of civilization conducted when given unlimited control over human beings.

In answering the requisite questions, and in making his statement, Townsend gave entire satisfaction. His German master he spoke of as being a tolerably fair man, "considering his origin." At least he (Townsend) had not suffered much from him; but he spoke of a woman, about sixty, who had been used very badly under this Dutchman. He not only worked her very hard, but, at the same time, he would beat her over the head, and that in the most savage manner. His mistress was also "Dutch," a "great swabby, fat woman," with a very ill disposition. Master and mistress were both members of the Episcopal Church. "Mistress drank, that was the reason she was so disagreeable."

Townsend had been a married man for about seven months only. In his effort to obtain his own freedom he sought diligently to deliver his young wife. They were united heart and hand in the one great purpose to reach free land, but unfortunately the pursuers were on their track; the wife was captured and carried back, but the husband escaped. It was particularly with a view of saving his poor wife that Townsend was induced to peril his life, for she (the wife) was not owned by the same party who owned Townsend, and was on the eve of being taken by her owners some fifty miles distant into the country, where the chances for intercourse between husband and wife would no longer be favorable. Rather than submit to such an outrage, Townsend and his wife made the attempt aforementioned.

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

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