I finally had a chance to swing by and see the historical marker for Oak Lawn Cemetery. I first pitched the idea to the other members of the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation late last year, and once approved by the existing members (3), quickly got to work on writing the text for the marker. With the assistance of the representative from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), a working text was hammered out over the early months of this year. It’s wonderful to see this project come to fruition, with the added bonus of the marker being located just across the way from Suffolk’s City Hall (read: lots of traffic!)
1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew, of Company B, 2nd Regiment, U. S. Colored Cavalry, was born on September 4,1845, in Tyrrell County, North Carolina. He enlisted at the age of eighteen on February 1, 1864, at Fort Monroe, Virginia. In his enlistment record, he was described as five feet, nine inches tall, with a “light” complexion, black eyes and hair. By occupation, 1st Sgt. Pettigrew was listed as a laborer. He mustered in on February 8, 1864, at Fort Monroe, and was appointed Sergeant later that afternoon. In December, 1864, he was appointed First Sergeant.1
**Unfortunately, due to my serious concerns of theft of my intellectual property and research on African American and slave burial grounds in North Carolina over the last six weeks, my “North Carolina Cemeteries” page will be removed until further notice.**
When Nadia Orton’s kidneys were failing, she sent letters to friends and relatives in the hopes that someone could be a donor or help defray the cost. Orton’s great-aunt Philgrador responded with money from her church. So a few years later, when Aunt Phil asked on her deathbed that her family not be forgotten, Orton knew she had to find a way to honor her ancestors. The problem was that she didn’t know who they were, or where to find them.
As she started tracing her lineage and locating her ancestors’ final resting places in North Carolina and Virginia, Orton began to notice the state of black cemeteries. Many were overgrown, unprotected and unmapped. Seeing the condition of these sacred spaces sparked a passion for protecting them.
Orton has since visited hundreds of cemeteries, and helps other families identify their ancestors’ plots. Host Frank Stasio talks with Nadia Orton, a public historian and professional genealogist, about how she uncovers the past and how it feels to find who came before you
Photos: Nadia K. Orton, January 19, 2013-April, 2014. Also added to FindaGrave. All rights reserved. For more information on United States Colored Troops: see Memorials to United States Colored Troops, Pt. 4 – Chowan County, North Carolina.