Brenda & Nadia Orton 1

Nadia K. Orton, public historian and professional genealogist. Graduate of Duke University, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science, and African/African American Studies; Certificate in Markets and Management Sciences. Researching and documenting the African-American communities and historic cemeteries of Tidewater, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, and other areas throughout the American South. Affiliations include the following:

The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation – Suffolk, Virginia (Secretary/Historian)

African American Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia

Executive Planning and Review Team, Evergreen Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia (member)

Duke University Alumni Association (member)

Association of Professional Genealogists (member)

North Carolina Genealogical Society (member)

National Genealogical Society (member)

Tidewater Genealogical Society (member)

Association for Gravestone Studies (member)

Phoenix Historical Society of Edgecombe County, North Carolina (member)

Facebook: African American Cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina

Facebook: African American Historic Cemeteries of Portsmouth, Virginia

Facebook: African American Cemeteries of Norfolk, Virginia

Facebook: The Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation

Letter from President Barack Obama regarding the Mt Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879), Portsmouth, Virginia. November 10, 2016

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello, Ms. Orton,

    I am a (Black) Coston Descendant and noticed that you have photographed grave stones/markers at the Canaan Temple AME Zion Church in Edenton, NC. I have a few photographs of some of the graves of my Coston relatives, but am missing others. I am sure you charge a fee for your services. . . . It has been many many years since I’ve been to Edenton, and realize I need to return in order to get past the wall of slavery. Do you have any tips I can use or direct me to so that I can get additional information not available on Ancestry?

    Your direction is most appreciated.

    Linda A. White
    Coston Descendant

  2. Ms Orton,
    I have just recently started the genealogy search for our family (Goldman-Cuffee of Norfolk/Princess Anne counties) but I love and am inspired by your work. Thank you for being a guide. We will be visiting local cemeteries to help write these stories. Your work is appreciated.

    • Thanks so much for the kind and supportive words, Lynn. Small world, I’ve researched the family of Giles Cuffee of Princess Anne Co., who is buried in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex, Portsmouth, Va. Good luck in your genealogy journey!

  3. Hello. I am researching my family. I recently found a death certificate of my great grandmother who is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in portsmouth virginia. I would like to know how to get in touch with someone there to see if I can get her birthdate off her tombstone, and see if other family members are there.

  4. Nadia,

    We are in the process of gearing up to restore a Union fort in Western Branch that is remarkably well -preserved. It is located near where Jolliffe Road crosses Goose Creek. No definitive name exists for it as we can find in the records. Our question is were any USCT units stationed there at any time. It was near a mill referred to as David’s Mill or Wright’s mill at the time of the war.

    I know you have done a great deal of work in the area on USCT soldiers. Any help you could lend to answer this question would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Sam Leary 757-362-2499

  5. Thank you Ms. Orton for this wonderful blog and info. My husband and I own a masonry restoration company in Norfolk and are learning cemetery preservation. We have started a volunteer group to bring training and work sessions to support cemeteries who need our services.We have volunteered our services to Mt. Calvary complex and would like to connect with you. Thanks again for all you do for the ancestors and those searching for them!

  6. Nice to find this. My twice great grandfather fought with Co B of the 36 USCT at Chaffin’s Farm and the other campaigns. Gaston Becton is his name. I’d love to find a company photo of him. Any way i can try?

    • Hi, there’s a great book to check out: The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War: A History and Roster,” by James K. Bryant II. There’s an entry for your ancestor (birth, enlistment, discharge, date of death.) Also, have you tried ordering his pension file? Though rare, some pension files include a photo of the soldier, some in uniform, or photos taken later in life for identification purposes. If you haven’t ordered it yet, you’ll need NATF Form 85/NATF 85D from the National Archives. There’s more information here: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records. Happy hunting!

  7. Hello. I would like to know if you would be able to help with researching Africans in Virginia with the surname Ruff or if you would be able to point me in the right direction.

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