Recently, I came across the story of Charles Drummond, a young, African American man from Accomack County, Virginia, known as the “Giant of the Eastern Shore.”
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
Documenting a historically African American cemetery on Father’s Day (June 18th), 2017, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. One of the oldest, inhabited areas of the state, it’s become one of our favorite family destinations. The cemetery is just north of the birthplace of a family elder, who was a much beloved and respected teacher and educator of historic I. C. Norcom High School, in Portsmouth, Virginia. Unfortunately, most of the oldest sections of the cemetery were too overgrown for closer investigation, and my father warned of snakes and other dangers that may have been hidden by the overgrowth. We observed some areas that had been cleared by family members in order to reach their ancestors’ gravesites, perhaps in observance of Decoration Day, or Father’s Day. It was an encouraging thought; we’ll return soon in the hope of further exploration. ♥
Photos: Nadia K. Orton, October 13, 2013. All rights reserved.