Pathways to Pride Black History in the Old City Cemetery

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Pathways to Pride

BLACK HISTORY in the Old City Cemetery

Old City Cemetery Museums & Arboretum Founded 1806

A Virginia Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places




Black History in the

This cemetery is the final resting place for about 20,000 people, two-thirds of them African Americans. From its opening in 1806 until the opening of White Rock Cemetery in 1882, this was the only cemetery in the city open to Black people. Although some graves were never marked and markers on some others have been lost to time and neglect, cemetery staff continue to document the names and lives of those buried here, and to share that information through this brochure, signage, tours, and our website. The rich history of the African American community and its contributions to Lynchburg life come alive in the Old City Cemetery!

s to Pride

e Old City Cemetery The Pathway to Pride, a walkway monument to African Americans that follows old Third Street and terminates at the plot of the Pride family, was dedicated in 2022. It highlights the graves of a number of prominent African Americans, but as the map illustrates, others are found throughout the cemetery. An asterisk (*) by a name indicates that there is a sign near the grave, so less information is included in this brochure. A QR code on a marker will allow those with a smartphone to link to more information on the cemetery website.

Pathways to Pride


1 Rev. Phillip Fisher

Morris (c. 1852–1923) was the founder and first president of Lynchburg Baptist Seminary, known today as Virginia Theological Seminary & College, 1888–1891. Morris was also pastor of Lynchburg’s largest African American church, Court Street Baptist, for 17 years, before leading several hundred members of the divided congregation to establish Eighth Street Baptist Church in 1898. His wife, Angie, was a school teacher in Lynchburg for almost 30 years.

2 Agnes and Lizzie

Langley According to court and city directory records, mother and daughter, Agnes (1789–1874) and Lizzie (1833– 1891) Langley ran a “sporting house” on Commerce Street during the 19th century. Later, Lynchburg’s “red light district” of World War II fame was located a few blocks from the cemetery on Jackson, Monroe, and Fourth Streets.

3 *Virginia Marie Cabell

Randolph (1876–1962) and

3A Lugie Carter Buck

Ferguson (1890–1988) Nextdoor neighbors in life and death, these two women

taught in the Lynchburg schools and were among the first three Black women and twelve women overall in Lynchburg who registered to vote on September 1, 1920, the first day that suffrage was extended to women.

4 Blind Billy (c. 1805– 1855) was an enslaved fife player and street musician. He led parades and played for private parties in the homes of affluent citizens. “He could render his notes as sharp as would make a soldier do or die…or so soft and sweet as to induce the coyest maiden to surrender at discretion.” According to local lore, his freedom was bought by a grateful citizenry and he died a free man. A symbolically broken fife adorns his gravestone.

5 *The Pride Family The Pride men were respected free Black barbers across multiple generations. Claiborne (1857–1933) married Amelia Perry (1857–1932), who taught in the Lynchburg schools, was a school principal, founded schools to teach cooking and sewing, and founded the Dorchester Home for formerly enslaved women.

* There is a sign near the grave, so less information is included in this brochure. A QR code on a marker will allow those with a smartphone to link to more information on the cemetery website.





Amelia Pride’s cooking school















6 *Educators Near this

site are the graves of Ottawa Anna Gladman Curle (1857–1885), one of the first three African Americans hired to teach in the Lynchburg public schools, and


6A James Mozee (1862–1941), who taught in Lynchburg for 31 years and was the second Black principal of Dunbar High School. Nearby, see Amelia Perry Pride (#5 above) and further down the hill see


6B Prof. Frank Trigg, Jr., who “came into this world a slave and was buried a retired college president.”


* There is a sign near the grave, so less information is included in this brochure. A QR code on a marker will allow those with a smartphone to link to more information on the cemetery website.

7 *Robert Perkins (1834–1881) was born enslaved and considered self-taught. He became a mail agent in the United States Railway Postal Service and later the first African American Chief Clerk on the rail line between Lynchburg and Bristol. He was active in the Free Masons and in Court Street Baptist Church.

8 *Martha Spence

Edley (1826–1920) was born enslaved. Edley served three generations of the Spence family through marriage, emancipation, the death of her husband, and the loss of all three of her children. During the Civil War, she worked as a nurse in the Ladies Relief Hospital.

9 *Samuel Kelso (c. 1825– 1880) was born enslaved but became an educator and politician after Emancipation. He represented Lynchburg and Campbell County to the 1867 Virginia Constitutional Convention, advocated for free public education of all races, and was one of Lynchburg’s first African American school teachers, teaching in the Freedmen’s Bureau Camp Davis School. The exact location of his grave is unknown.

10 *Daniel Butler (1874–1942) was a leader in his community, known as a “scholar, orator, poet, politician, and leader of his people.” He worked as mail clerk, teacher, school principal, and insurance agent. Butler ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1898.

11 John H. Kinckle, Sr. (1810–1889) was a valued employee of Lynchburg’s Union Depot, responsible for baggage handling. He earned great trust and respect for his efficiency and diligence in his work. Kinckle’s son, John Jr., was one of the first two African American lawyers in Lynchburg and his grandson, Eugene Kinckle Jones, was the first Executive Secretary of the National Urban League.

12 *Squire Higginboth-

am (1820–1882) and McGustavus Higginbotham (1868–1934) Born enslaved, Squire learned carpentry at an early age, eventually working for Diuguid’s mortuary, probably building caskets. In 1869, he founded Lynchburg’s first undertaking business for African Americans, eventually passing the business to his son, McGustavus. A large gravestone marks the Higginbotham family plot.

13 Hayes-Reid family plot With the beloved “Miss Willie” (1865–1962) at its head, the Hayes-Reid family have long given strength and character to the Tinbridge neighborhood surrounding the cemetery.

13A Harry W. Reid (1892–1969), a World War I veteran, was the second African American pharmacist in Lynchburg, joining Frank V. Bacchus to form Bacchus & Reid Pharmacy on nearby Fifth Street in 1919.

Original Potter’s Field Monument Medicinal Herbs

Hearse House and Caretakers’ Museum

Station House Museum



Old Potter’s Field


Scatter Garden for Animals Scatter Garden

Lotus Pond and Butterfly Garden Comfort House


Chapel and Columbarium


13A 22 21


New Potter’s Field

Glanders Exhibit

Earley Memorial Shrub Garden

Kids’ Haven Memorial Area


Wise Street

Floyd Street

Cemetery Center

Pest House Medical Museum

6B Confederate Section




Antique Roses


7 6A

11 10



Open Path


25 23

3A 3 2


Family Plots


Oldest Part of Cemetery


Fourth Street Monroe Street

Taylor Street

14 A Tragedy at Court

Street Baptist Church occurred on the night of October 16, 1878. The church was filled to capacity for a revival service when someone threw a stone through an upper window. In the confusion that followed, some thought the balcony was collapsing and others yelled “Fire!” In the panic that followed, eight women were trampled to death or, like Maria Wilson, died after jumping from the second-story gallery windows. Wilson (1861–1878) is buried nearby.

15 “Negro Row” in the

Confederate Section Over 2,000 Confederate soldiers from 14 states are buried in this section. Records show that ten African Americans are also buried here but the location of that row of graves remains unknown. The only woman was “Jane,” who was enslaved by Col. W. H. Brown and may have worked in a local military hospital.

16 Hearse House and

Caretakers’ Museum The elegant black horse-drawn hearse was occasionally rented from the Diuguid mortuary by Black undertakers. The locally made Thornhill wagon served as both a modest hearse and for transport of groundskeeping materials and equipment. Jefferson Anderson (1853–1921), the cemetery’s only Black superintendent, worked here in the 1880s.

17 Julia Whitely Branch (c. 1850–1937) was a valued midwife and infant nurse in the late 19th and early 20th century. Her knowledge and skill were highly valued by prominent families, both White and Black. Although the location of her grave is unknown, she is probably buried near her daughter, Winnie, and her brother, Phillip Pleasant Whiteley, who escaped to the North during the Civil War and served in the 43rd U.S. Colored Troops infantry regiment.

18 Station House Museum Moved here from Stapleton, Va. and situated along the Norfolk Southern line, this museum highlights the diverse roles in the railroad industry played by many African Americans buried here. Tragically, many also died in railroad accidents. Interpretive plaques are along the rail on the rear platform.

19 *Chapel Constructed in 2006 for the Cemetery’s bicentennial anniversary, the chapel honors the many religious leaders buried in the cemetery. Among them were Phillip Fisher Morris (c. 1852–1923), founder and first president of Virginia University of Lynchburg and pastor of Court Street Baptist Church, and William T. Hall (1865–1933), pastor of Baptist churches in Philadelphia and Danville, Va. The lower level holds a columbarium. (Niches are available!)

* There is a sign near the grave, so less information is included in this brochure. A QR code on a marker will allow those with a smartphone to link to more information on the cemetery website.



20 The Earley Memorial

Shrub Garden holds two relics from buildings important to the African American community in Lynchburg: the base of a column that stood at the entrance to Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, which was razed in 1979, and the finial from the steeple of Eighth Street Baptist Church.


23 The Kneeling

Angel Monument, an iconic memorial in this cemetery, watches over the grave of Emmett Hamilton Jefferson (1907–1909). Nearby is a headstone carved by Emmett’s grandfather, William Henry Tayloe (c. 1815–1885), who later took the surname Jefferson, grew up enslaved, and carved about 50 of the headstones in the cemetery. He carved for both enslaved and free Black families. His stones, all local schist or gneiss, display characteristic lettering and adornments.

24 Anica “Mammy”

21 Sallie Frank

“Frankie” Anderson (1904– 1986) was a beloved teacher at Yoder Elementary School in Tinbridge Hill for over 40 years. A graduate of Hampton Institute, she was recognized for her innovative methods of teaching math. She is buried beside her brother.

22 Lottie Payne Stratton (1902–1965) lived just outside the cemetery entrance and for almost 30 years collected tickets at the “colored” entrance at the Academy of Music Theater on Main Street. “Miz Boonie,” as she was known, never had children of her own but was known to generations of children whom she allowed to sneak into the theater for Saturday matinées.

Mitchell (1854–1917) was a “faithful and beloved” domestic servant to the family of Israel Snead Moore for over 40 years. The stone was provided by the Moore family, whose inclusion of the honorific “Mammy” was intended to convey familial affection. Today the term is understood as a Jim Crow era stereotype and caricature that reinforced Black dependence and inferiority.

25 Jacob Majors (1787– 1864) was a free man of color and active in the Baptist church. A carpenter, he was hired in 1844 to convert the old Court Street Theater into the African Baptist Church, the first independent Black church in Lynchburg and the forerunner of Court Street Baptist Church.


Angelica Walker and first African American history tour, 2020

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN Some notable African Americans with connections to the Old City Cemetery who are not buried here: Thomas Jefferson Anderson (1853-1921), like other cemetery caretakers between 1880 and 1950, lived on-site. A member of the Free Masons, he was the only Black caretaker, and was employed here 1888–1889. *Ota Benga (c. 1885–1916) A native of central Africa, Mybe Otabenga was first brought to the U.S. in 1904 for display with other tribesmen at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later he was displayed in the primate cage at the Bronx Zoo in New York, sparking wide outrage that

led first to his placement in an orphanage and ultimately at Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg. Unhappy and unable to return to his home, he took his life in 1916. He was buried here but was likely moved to White Rock Cemetery later. Gregory Willis Hayes (1865–1906) was the visionary and popular second president of Virginia Theological Seminary, known today as Virginia University of Lynchburg. He was initially buried in this cemetery after his unexpected death in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1906. Oral history indicates his widow removed his remains to White Rock Cemetery sometime in the next decade.

* There is a sign near the grave, so less information is included in this brochure. A QR code on a marker will allow those with a smartphone to link to more information on the cemetery website.




BLACK HISTORY in the Old City Cemetery RESEARCHED AND WRITTEN BY: James W. Wright, Pathway to Pride Committee, Writer & Editor Ted Delaney, Chief Public History Officer, City of Lynchburg Denise A. McDonald, Cemetery Executive Director Michael Hudson, Marketing Manager & Historian Angelica Walker, Black History Tour Docent Design: The Design Group

SPECIAL THANKS Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation City of Lynchburg Pathway to Pride Chair Demond Bolden & Pathway to Pride Committee Legacy Museum of African American History Southern Memorial Association Board President John H. Hughes IV & Board of Directors

CEMETERY CENTER MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP Open Monday-Saturday, 10am–3pm, and Sundays, 1–5pm (except for major holidays) 401 Taylor Street Lynchburg, VA 24501 434-847-1465 email:

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