Richmond, Virginia: Honoring family, the Ortons and Youngs of Church Hill

The Young Family, Portsmouth, Virginia, ca. 1927. All rights reserved.

One never knows where priceless bits of family history can be found. In 2012, we visited the household of the Parkers, paternal cousins, in Portsmouth, Virginia. They shared with us a great photo of my paternal grandmother, Lillian Vann Young Orton, who was born in 1927, Portsmouth, Virginia. She is featured in this photo, the infant in the center, surrounded by several of her siblings.

Suffolk, Virginia: Views of Oak Lawn Cemetery (est. 1885), August 9, 2019

Assisting grassroots efforts to preserve a historical, African American institution of Suffolk, Virginia

Gravestone of Pvt. Lamb Jackson, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry. Documented on Findagrave by Nadia K. Orton, January 2, 2013. Photo: Nadia K. Orton. August 9, 2019. All rights reserved.

Brooklyn, New York: Seeking freedom, Robert M. Phinney of Weeksville

Map showing the location of Weeksville and Crow Hill, early 19th-century African American communities in Brooklyn, New York. Source: Sidney’s map of twelve miles around New-York : with the names of property holders, &c., from entirely new & original surveys (1849). New York Public Library

Robert M. Phinney (alias Finney), was born enslaved, about 1818, in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina. In the 1840s, he escaped slavery via the maritime Underground Railroad, and eventually settled in Weeksville, Brooklyn, New York. Weeksville was established shortly after New York abolished slavery in 1827. The community was named after James Weeks, a longshoreman and one of the earliest African American landowners in the area. Weeksville has been featured in recent publications, as longterm efforts to preserve the history of the site are threatened by a lack of funding and other resources.1