Category Archives: African Americans

Melcenia Fields; the Hermit of Beury

When Melcenia Fields failed to retrieve her groceries, railroad workers knew something was wrong. Fields, inexplicably to all but herself, lived in the ruins of Beury, WV, one of dozens of company towns in the New River Gorge that residents completely abandoned when the adjacent coal seams were mined out. Fields lived there alone for … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Cemeteries, Ghost towns, Industry, Mines, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Williamsburg’s Civil War Battlefield and a Community at a Crossroads

The white clapboard house hides in plain sight on a short city street lined with recycle bins and compact sedans. Nothing on the exterior betrays what happened within those walls long ago, that officers engaged in the nation’s greatest crisis made decisions that ended many lives and spared others. What’s now a rental home close … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Earthworks, Military | 8 Comments

The Forgotten Mass Grave at Harpers Ferry; A Strange Trip for Eight Raiders

Three feet down, the men struck something: a pine box. Waterlogged and rotting, yes, but a pine box nonetheless–exactly what they’d come looking for. They pried off the lid. A man’s spine was stuck to it. They closed the coffin, refilled the hole, placed a couple crude headstones, knowing all the while there’d soon be … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Cemeteries, Industry, Military | 2 Comments

Irene Morgan; A Daring Act, A Humble Life

The story is familiar. An African American woman boards a bus in the segregated South and sits in the back, as required by law. The bus fills and the driver demands that she give up her seat to white riders. The woman refuses—an audacious act, defying decades of Jim Crow customs—and for her insolence she … Continue reading

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The Elko Tract; A Lost City That’s Too Well-Known

In the dense woods east of Richmond, Virginia is a notorious ghost town–an empty grid of grown-over streets lined by sidewalks that sprout trees and sewers choked with decades of leaf litter. An idle and rust-crowned water tower looms high above. This is the fabled Lost City. Unfortunately, too many people have found this abandoned … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ghost towns, Military | 8 Comments

Slabtown; A Community that Gave Its Existence for the United States

It’s easy to appreciate sacrifice at Yorktown Battlefield, where Americans secured their independence. Visitors there find historic fortifications, artillery and cemeteries containing the remains of hundreds of soldiers who fought and died for a cause. But sometimes folks render service to their country in less visible ways, and in an out-of-the-way quarter of the battlefield, … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Cemeteries, Ghost towns, Military | 15 Comments

Historically African American Beaches; Vanished Relics of an Uncomfortable Past

The shorelines are indistinguishable from ones adjacent. They’re stretches of sand lapped by the Chesapeake Bay’s waves, full of life and memory, ceding ground as the sea level rises. These beaches are small slivers of the Bay’s 11,684 miles of waterfront. They always were, even when a segregated society set them apart and deemed them … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ghost towns | 16 Comments

The Gingaskin Indians and an African American Community Rich with Native Blood

Turn seaside at Eastville on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and you’ll be traveling on Indiantown Road. Most days this rural byway is lightly traveled. Traffic picks up just a hair when there’s some community activity–softball or basketball, for instance–at the Northampton County-run Indiantown Park at the end of the road. Of course, most folks stealing home … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Ghost towns, Indians | 34 Comments