Sunday, February 17, 2008

Save the Cemetery!

I was googling a church that has a cemetery where quite a few of my forefathers lie in rest when I came upon a a web site that mentioned that the cemetery is in fact in some jeopardy.

The church in question is the Little Ark Baptist Church in Virginia.

Little Ark Baptist Church like many African American churches have roots that go back to the times of slavery. In 1876, 10 years after the signing of Emancipation Proclamation, the Antioch Baptist Church in King George, Virginia, under the Reverend John Fleming, granted permission to a small group of members to form a congregation at the northern end of the county. That small group formed the Little Ark Baptist Church on property purchased for $25.00 per acre.

During World War II, President Roosevelt condemned much of the Dahlgren community to make way for the Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center. In addition to displacing generations of families of former slaves, he decided he needed to build a railroad to transport equipment and supplies to support his war effort. In 1942, the US Government, Department of the Navy TOOK this land with the cemetery already well established and put the railroad tracks right through it! The remains of members of the church and their families have been disinterred and re interred throughout the cemetery leaving no one family together in what is supposed to be the final resting place. All remains were removed --except one.

After the war was over, the rails were removed but the division in the cemetery has remained. Funerals services for families who had plots in the old cemetery could no longer be interred as the caskets were becoming increasingly too heavy to carry across the empty tracks.

Recently, the Little Ark Baptist Church has been engaged in a battle to save the cemetery from yet another attempt to further destroy the sanctity of this cemetery. David Brickley, a former state legislator from Woodbridge, plans to turn the easement into what he's calling "the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail" so that nature lovers, hiker's and biker's can walk and run through this sacred burial ground and further trample on the one man who's remains have not be removed. Mr. Brickley acquired the rights to this easement via Quit Claim deed from a former King George County Commissioner: Joe Williams who also acquired it by Quit Claim Deed or so the story has be told. Funny thing about Quit Claim Deeds, you don't have to prove ownership.

If you haven't noticed, cemeteries where African Americans are buried are status quo targets for the sacrilegious. The King George County Board of Supervisors have the ability to put a permanent end to this "Trail to Hell" project. Whether you live there or not is irrelevant. The idea that somehow it is okay to disregard those buried in the cemetery who were born a slaves and fought in wars in defense of all of our freedoms is enough to get involved. Be the voices that can no longer be heard.

Please contact these Supervisors and encourage them to take this opportunity to protect the sanctity of this sacred burial ground by restoring it back to the original owner: the Little Ark Baptist Church.

Phone calls and faxes can be receive at:

(Phone) 540-775-9181

(Fax) 540-775-5248

News Articles Related to This Story:

The web site is The Center for African American Genealogical Research at

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