“1st SC Infantry of African Descent – The 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment was raised from sea island slaves living around Port Royal. Elements of the regiment were formed on Hilton Head in May 1862. In August 1862, the regiment was reorganized near Beaufort at the Smith plantation. It was commanded by the noted abolitionist Thomas W. Higginson who led the Regiment on raids along the Georgia coast. On Jan. 1, 1863, the regiment was formerly mustered into the United States Army. The regiment saw extensive service on the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida Coasts. On Feb. 8, 1864, the regiment was redesignated as the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. The regiment assisted in the occupation of Charleston, Savannah, Augusta and other points until it was mustered out on Jan. 31, 1866.”Continue reading
Reflecting back on some of Portsmouth, Virginia’s early Decoration Day parades, when they led to the city’s oldest extant African American cemeteries: the historic Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879) and Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (est. 1912)…
The Memorial Day observance in Portsmouth greatly eclipsed the former celebrations. Promptly at 10:30 a.m., the procession headed by the Municipal Bank, followed by a firing squad of U. S. sailors, the Uniformed Rank of Pythians under command of Major J. T. Fisher, I. B. P. O. of Elks and other secret fraternities. A striking feature was the large number of females in the parade – the Woman’s Relief Corps, the Patriotic Daughters of the G. A. R. and about six hundred school children dressed in white middie suits. A company of boys carried a massive blanket of flowers which was later placed upon the grave of their former chiefton, Prof. Israel Chas. Norcom, this silent tribute attesting the fact that though he sleeps his memory still is green. Floral tributes were also placed upon the grave of Miss Serena A. Moseley.
The program was very impressive. Dr. W. B. Anderson, preside
Dr. E. H. Hunter delivered the principal address in which he extolled the deeds of the old soldiers and plead for a continued loyalty and patriotism for the American flag.
The singing of the patriotic choir was an enjoyable feature.
After taps were sounded the mounted section of the parade was driven to the Lincoln Cemetery, where the G. A. R. carried on appropriate exercises around the monument.
The Daughters of the G. A. R. received much praise for the splendid granite curbing which they had placed around the monument at a cost of $150.00.
The School Children Honor the Memory of Their DeadContinue reading
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, 2010-2019. All rights reserved
In the summer of 2007, I began a family history project to document all interments in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex. Established in 1879, it is the oldest, extant African American cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia. It’s a historic site near and dear to our family’s heart, having over forty-eight ancestors buried there, although most are without visible gravestones.Continue reading