The Hidden History of African-American Burial …

The Hidden History of African-American Burial Sites in the Antebellum South:

In modern-day Altavista,
Virginia, a town that covers 5 square miles of what was the
first English colony in North America, sits the Avoca Museum. The former
residence of Colonel Charles Lynch, a politician and American Revolutionary
Patriot, it was built in 1901 and is now a Virginia Historic Landmark. Beyond the
stately home, whose porch and eaves are marked by flourishes derived from the
British-born Queen Anne style, is a dirt clearing within a patch of aged oak
trees. Upon closer look, there’s a constellation of irregularly shaped rocks
placed with curious precision—some squat, some narrow.

The history of this terra firma is largely hidden, both
because of its obscured distance from the main home and the largely
subterranean information it holds. This patch of land is a graveyard of the
enslaved African-Americans who lived on the Lynch’s property. The rocks—which
serve as headstones—reveal a secret yet conscious coding system that the living
slave community designed for their deceased. And on former plantations across
the country, similar grave markers have been discovered over time, offering
clues to what life (and death) was like for black Americans in the Antebellum
period.

Continue reading at Atlas Obscura.