The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery


William Jackson, runaway, 1857

From William Still, The Underground Rail Road, (William Still, 1871), pp. 411-412.

WILLIAM was about fifty years of age, of usual size, of good address, and intelligent. He was born the property of a slaveholder, by the name of Daniel Minne, residing in Alexandria in Virginia. His master was about eighty-four years of age, and was regarded as kind, though he had sold some of his slaves and was in favor of slavery. He had two sons, Robert and Albert, "both dissipated, would lay about the tippling taverns, and keep low company, so much so that they were not calculated to do any business for their father." William had to be a kind of a right hand man to his master. The sons seeing that the "property" was trusted instead of themselves, very naturally hated it, so the young men resolved that at the death of their father, William should be sent as far south as possible. Knowing that the old man could not stand it much longer, William saw that it was his policy to get away as fast as he could. He was the husband of a free wife, who had come on in advance of him.

For thirty years William had been foreman on his old master's plantation, and but for the apprehension caused by the ill-will of his prospective young masters, he would doubtless have remained in servitude at least until the death of the old man. But when William reflected, and saw what he had been deprived of all his life by being held in bondage, and when he began to breathe free air, with the prospect of ending his days on free land, he rejoiced that his eyes had been opened to see his danger, and that he had been moved to make a start for liberty.


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