Suffolk, Virginia: Historical Marker, Oak Lawn Cemetery (est. 1885)

Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 5, 2019. All rights reserved.

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!)

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

Chowan County, North Carolina: 1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry, Edenton

Gravestone of 1st Sgt. Haywood B. Pettigrew. Vine Oak Cemetery, Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.

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

From “A New Map of the State of North Carolina by J.L. Hazzard “(1859). Chowan and Tyrrell counties are indicated in red. Source: North Carolina Map, UNC-CH

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.