Eight Years in the Making: Avoca Slave Cemetery Complete

Campbell Co., VA - A project eight years in the making in Altavista is finally complete. The Avoca Museum's Slave Cemetery is now renovated and accessible. It is a joint effort between the town of Altavista and Greater Lynchburg Community Trust.

Director Frank Murray says people have come there from all over the country just to witness a piece of history. He says he is getting several people who have even traced their lineage back to this graveyard.

"28 that we know of - graves probably most if not all were slaves.," said Murray.

This cemetery houses dozens buried between 1800 and 1865.

"To me it's a huge deal." Murray said. "It's for healing. It's to provide dignity for people who never were afforded dignity during their lifetime."

Murray says the site has come a very long way.

"You couldn't even step a foot into it, literally." Murray said. "When we were clearing out the area, we didn't notice any tombstones. Then after it was cleared, and after several rains, all of sudden here was this little pink tombstone."

A lone pink tombstone is the only one still in its original place. There are lots of unknowns still lingering.

"We have a couple little pink quartz stones that we always wondered if that was for children," Murray said.

Mysteries, that may never be solved.

"Some of them, the tops were shaved or carved in an identical way," Murray said. "I don't know if there was a relationship there, if there just the same person did the work."

But one thing is for certain:

"It just keeps evolving," Murray said. "This [rock] was just uncovered when they did this a couple weeks ago.

It is unknown if that stone is a headstone or just a rock. Murray says the total price tag is estimated between $40,000-$45,000. Organizers say it was really a town-wide project that honors those who helped build this country.

Visit the Avoca Museum's website by clicking here.