The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery

Lawrence Thornton, runaway, 1857

From William Still, The Underground Rail Road, (William Still, 1871), pp. 448-449.

LAWRENCE was about twenty-three years of age, tall and slender, of dark complexion, but bright intellectually. With Lawrence times had been pretty rough. Dr. Isaac Winslow of Alexandria was accused of defrauding Lawrence of his hire. "He was anything else but a gentleman," said Lawrence. "He was not a fair man no way, and his wife was worse than he was, and she had a daughter worse than herself."

"Last Sunday a week my master collared me, for my insolence he said, and told me that he would sell me right off. I was tied and put up stairs for safe keeping. I was tied for about eight hours. I then untied myself, broke out of prison, and made for the Underground Rail Road immediately."

Lawrence gave a most interesting account of his life of bondage, and of the doctor and his family. He was overjoyed at the manner in which he had defeated the doctor, and so was the Committee. [Lawrence apparently made his way north with another escapee, John Johnson, from the Washington area.]

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