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Rediscovering Fluvanna’s Oak Hill Cemetery
March 1, 2022
Recently, the historical society found a cemetery in Fluvanna. Now, it is being cleaned up and now is being celebrated and remembering the people buried in that cemetery. The cemetery is called Oak Hill Cemetery.
A Fluvanna County High School class went on a field trip to a slave cemetery in Bremo Bluff in Fluvanna. The trip was chaperoned by Hands-on-History teacher Mitchell Pace.
The cemetery is located in Fork Union, Virginia. The address is Bremo Bluff, VA. Bremo Bluff is located south of Fork Union, and on Route 15, just before you get to the James River Bridge.
“Oak Hill Cemetery has been the subject of a lot of interest in the last year. The Fluvanna Historical Society and West Bottom community members, most of them affiliated with West Bottom Baptist Church, have collaborated to learn more about the people buried there. Many of the graves have no inscribed headstones – which means that in many instances, we do not know who is buried in which grave. Community historians have managed to find names of just over 100 people buried at Oak Hill on death certificates and in funeral home records – but we do not know which graves they are buried in. There are over 215 burials that were identified by archeologists hired to map the cemetery,” said Historical Society Executive Director Tricia Johnson.
Teacher Mitchell Pace said that the reason why this cemetery is so special is that “it is a historically black cemetery, recently 250 unmarked burials. Research says that there are some Fluvanna enslaved persons, the cemetery has multiple generations in it,” said Pace.
“Even though you may not have been alive [during slavery], seeing the cemetery makes you realize how far we’ve come and the impact of slavery,” said freshman Arianna Tinsley, who went on the field trip.
Senior Ellie Smith said, “It was kind of sad that the cemetery and the people buried in it have been forgotten.”
So, while a lot of work has happened to pay respect to the people buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, there are still many projects to be completed before we are through, said Johnson.
Pace said that the most interesting thing about this cemetery is “it was really cool to learn about the multiple generations in the cemetery.” When asked if he would go back, Pace said, “absolutely, it’s important for the kids to learn, probably they will go back for multiple years.”
“The cemetery goes back to pre-emancipation; the cemetery is right up against the plantation Glenavon,” added Pace.
The weekend after Pace took his class on this field trip; there was a volunteer clean-up at the cemetery. This event took place on Saturday, November 13, 2021. According to an article on the Fluvanna Review, written by Tricia Johnson, who is the director at the Fluvanna Historical Society. The article states that “there were more than 40 people there to help clean up.” Pace was one of the many that showed up to help clean the cemetery. There were also a number of volunteers that brought chainsaws to help get some of the trees that needed to be cut down, this is also stated in the article on the Fluvanna review,” Johnson added.
Recently, the community hosted a cemetery clean-up day where more than 40 people volunteered to help remove debris and improve the appearance of the cemetery. The community may choose to put up a fence around the property, to somehow mark the unmarked graves, and to put up a large memorial with the names of everyone who is buried there.
If you wish to read this entire article on the Fluvanna review, it is on page 16. 11-18-21 – Fluvanna Review