Spiritual Formation For Kingdom Action

Notes from “Honoring the Forgotten”

Notes from “Honoring the Forgotten”

a first conversation about the slave cemetery at Corhaven

held on January 16, 2015 (MLK Day Weekend)

Corhaven is located at 2883 Quicksburg Road, Quicksburg VA  22847

Local residents of Shenandoah County and also the History Club of Stonewall Jackson High School gathered to discuss what can and should be done with a slave cemetery on the property of Corhaven, known in the records as “Sam Moore’s Slave Cemetery”.

Bill Haley, the owner of the property along with Tara Haley, began with the story of how the presence of the slave cemetery became known, and described his hopes that those who lay there would be honored, their dignity recognized, and a place for healing could be created.  His hopes include the broadest possible partnership to enable this to happen for the good of all.  He concluded with a reading from a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. and opened the meeting in prayer.

The History Club of Stonewall Jackson High School gave an extraordinary presentation on the history of slavery in Shenandoah County, nearby slave holding plantations, and the specific history of this property.   They concluded their presentation with their plans for the future which include:

“Future trips to county libraries and to Courthouse to try to find the names to associate with these gravestones.”
“Help Corhaven in identifying the location of the graves, clearing the property, creating a memorial and providing a dignified resting place for these individuals who suffered so greatly (and a place for others to reflect on the slavery, then and now.)”

Then Nancy Stewart, an esteemed local historian with a specialty in the history of slavery in Shenandoah County, offered a presentation which was very gratefully received and extremely helpful.

We then walked to the slave cemetery, explored the area and identified tombstones and graves marked with field stones, offered reflections and had discussion, and offered a time of silence and a prayer written by Martin Luther King Jr.

After lunch, the remainder of the group discussed our hopes, next steps for moving forward, who else we need in the conversation, and established leadership for the team.  We also listened to an interview with DeLois Warr recorded by WMRA, which was powerful.   The hopes we came to were very much in line with the stated goals of the SJHS History Club.

Those who were able to remain watched the film “12 Years a Slave” in the Woodshop at Corhaven.   Words fail.  It is a very difficult and painful film, and also very important to see.

Links and articles of note were offered throughout the meeting.

DeLois Warr of Mt. Jackson interview    http://wmra.org/post/integrating-mount-jacksons-past

Facebook page on African American and slave cemeteries in VA:     https://www.facebook.com/AfricanAmericanCemeteries

CNN on Altavista, VA slave cemetery effort:   http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2010-04-28-virginia-slave-cemetery_N.htm

NYT on online slave cemetery database:  http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/a-mission-to-find-and-preserve-forgotten-slave-graveyards/?_r=0

Slave Cemeteries in VA database:   http://africanamericancemeteries.com/va/ (none listed in Shendandoah County)

Central VA slave cemeteries:   http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/cem/

**If you would like further information about being a part of this effort, email Sarah Kohrs at kohrs@shentel.net or  Bill Haley at wrlhaley@me.com

Below is the audio introduction of the Saturday event:

“This is a place where someone like myself can meet the Living God and experience love, rest, and refreshment...thank you for helping me believe that Jesus delights in me and loves me!”

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