Headstones from Historic African-American Ceremony in Virginia to be Relocated

At right, Nathan Burrell, left, with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation receives headstone from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Photo courtesy of the Office of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Dozens of headstones from a historic African-American cemetery in the nation’s capital that were used for erosion control along the Virginia shoreline of the Potomac River are being relocated to a memorial garden in Maryland.

Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser attended a ceremony in Caledon State Park in King George, Va., on Monday to mark the transfer of the first 55 headstones from Virginia to Maryland, officials said. The grave markers will be part of a memorial garden at National Harmony Memorial Park in Prince George’s County, Md., honoring the 37,000 people buried at the original cemetery.

The Columbian Harmony Cemetery was established in 1859 and was the most prominent burial site for African-Americans in Washington. Among the people buried there were Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave who became a seamstress and trusted confidante of President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln; Osborne Perry Anderson, the only African-American survivor of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859; Mary Ann Shadd Cary, America’s first African-American female newspaper editor in 1853; and Philip Reid, a foundry worker who helped build the Statue of Freedom at the U.S. Capitol, officials said.

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SOURCE: Richmond Free Press

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