Portsmouth, Virginia: The Murder of Richard Billings (1916)

Recently, while combing through newspaper archives, I came across a terrible story about the senseless robbery and murder of Richard Billings, a young and enterprising resident of Portsmouth, Virginia.

Richard Billings, a colored chauffeur, was murdered by two white men, who hired his car early Wednesday night for a drive into the country near Norfolk. Billings’ body with a bullet hole through the head, was found on the roadside, six miles from Suffolk, and between that place and Beaman Station, yesterday. The car, a new one, is missing. The object of the murder, evidently was robbery

The Alexandria Gazette, June 17, 1916

Charlotte, North Carolina: Biddleville Cemetery (est. 1873)

Photos: Nadia K. Orton, November 10, 2015. All rights reserved.

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Recovering and Preserving African American Cemeteries – Preservation Leadership Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Pinewood Cemetery COPYRIGHT Nadia Orton
Pine Forest Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina

The reverence attached to cemeteries and burial grounds, which have long been considered sacred sites, is an example of enduring Africanisms and cultural tradition in the African American community. Burial grounds have always been regarded as places where ancestors could be properly honored and provided with the dignity, care, and respect in death that had often been denied them in life.

Interest in the study of my family tree has led me to over a dozen cemeteries throughout Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina, and helped reconstruct a family legacy spanning over 400 years. Cemeteries offer an important, tangible connection to history allowing closer interpretation of days past than most other sources can. Genealogists and family historians have long recognized the benefit of cemeteries in the study of family history and an increasing popular interest in genealogy has led to an increased focus on them.  READ MORE