Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial Competition Underway
Winning applicant not guaranteed "advisory role."
By Chuck Hagee, Gazette Packet
February 13, 2008
Feb. 6 marked the 146th anniversary of Jack Jones' death. He died in that area of Alexandria now known as Parker Grey. He was a slave — freed legally or a run-away is not known. Unfortunately, he died one month and one day before Freedmen's Cemetery came into existence. Therefore, his grave site is unknown.
"That's all we know about him and many others," said Alexandria City Archaeologist Dr. Pamela Cressey as she commenced her remarks at Alexandria's Black History Museum last Wednesday evening kicking off the design competition for the "Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial."
He was not alone in achieving that undesirable status of final resting site anominity. There was Betsy, 21, and Thomas, three, plus a long list of others "who died with no formal grave designation," according to Cressey. Many died of an outbreak of acute bronchitis in the new "non-white" L'Ouverture Hospital, built behind what we now know as "Freedom House" on Duke Street.
With the commencement of The Civil War and Virginia's secession, Union troops occupied Alexandria and it became a haven for those escaping slavery. "Thousands of blacks, perhaps as many as 20,000 flocked to the City," Cressey explained. Most were from Virginia locales to the south.