Invisible History

Site Type curated by: The African American Historic Sites Database Team

Invisible History in Virginia

Locations for Site Type

Historical Significance The Sugar House on Alfred Street in Alexandria was used in the 19th century to process sugar cane juice into sugar. An 1804 advertisement, posted by the owner William Moore, promoted the new establishment: "Sugar House - the…

Historical Significance Aquia Landing is located at the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac River in Stafford County, Virginia. As early as 1815, Aquia Landing served as a steamboat wharf. Southbound travelers came to this point by boat from…

Historical Significance Founded during the Civil War, the Berg Neighborhood got its name from enslaved blacks who fled Petersburg and settled in northeast Alexandria after Union troops occupied the city in May 1861. It was one of the first black…

Historical Significance Black Rosemont or "Colored Rosemont" was one of several African-American neighborhoods settled on the periphery of Alexandria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The area consisted of about four square blocks in the…

Historical Significance Corling's Corner was a site where enslaved blacks were bought, held in slave pens, and sold. During the antebellum period, slaves were annually "hired out" in December as domestics and laborers. The highly visible downtown…

Historical Significance Early education for African Americans in Harrisonburg in the late 19th century was supported by the Freedman's Bureau, United States Christian Commission, and African American teachers from the North. The first public…

Historical Significance Free State was an African-American community in Albemarle County located on a 220-acre parcel of land purchased by a free woman of color, Amy Bowles Farrow, in 1788. In the early 1800s Amy's son Zachariah married Critta…

Historical Significance In May 1863, the U.S. government established the Freedman's Village across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., to help address the needs of the growing number of individuals who had escaped slavery in the south during…

Historical Significance On the first day of September, 1663, a group of white indentured servants (held for several years of service), African slaves, and Virginia Indians in the Poropotank River and Purtan Bay region of Gloucester County met to…

Historical Significance Gum Springs, an African-American community, was originally founded by slaves who were set free when George Washington's wife Martha died at Mount Vernon. Under the leadership of freed slave West Ford, the community of Free…

Historical Significance In 1820, free black laundress Hannah Jackson bought a house and lot from Quaker landlord Mordecai Miller. Her purchase, for 5 shillings and regular ground rent, made her one of the first African Americans to own property in…

Historical Significance On the morning of October 17, 1859, Heywood Shepherd, a baggage master for the Winchester and Potomac Railroad at Harpers Ferry, walked onto the tracks to prepare for an eastbound train. He did not know that John Brown's band…

Historical Significance Catherine "Kitty" Foster's home was located across from the University of Virginia in a community of free blacks called Canada. Canada was established in the 19th century, in part to provide laborers and domestics for the…

Historical Significance After the Bureau for Colored Troops was established in May 1863, African-American troops began training for front line duty in the Civil War at camps around Alexandria. Although there were already several hospitals for white…

Historical Significance Lumpkin's Jail was located on a half an acre of land in what is now Richmond's historic Shockoe Bottom. The jail was known as "The Devil's Half Acre" because it was a holding pen, punishment and "breaking" center for more…

Historical Significance By the time Moses Hepburn built the four rental townhouses at 206-212 North Pitt Street, he was one of the wealthiest black residents of Alexandria and a successful land developer and civic leader. Hepburn was born in 1809,…

Historical Significance On July 16, 1944, Irene Morgan (1917-2007), an African American native of Gloucester County, Virginia, was a passenger on a Greyhound bus traveling from the Old Hayes Store in Gloucester County to Baltimore, Maryland. A short…

Historical Significance All African-American students in Lynchburg attended the Jackson Street High School, founded in 1881. The African-American community petitioned for a new school, and in 1920 the school board agreed to undertake the project.…

Historical Significance During the second Battle of Bull Run, the Robinson House served as a shelter and hospital for wounded Union soldiers. The house belonged to James Robinson, an African American born free in 1799, who became a prosperous farmer…

Historical Significance In 1640, five years after being freed from slavery himself, Anthony Johnson (born in Angola, Africa), acquired a black slave named John Casar (sometimes Casor or Gesorroro). In 1648, Johnson, who had come to the Eastern Shore…

Historical Significance In 1910, a Certificate of Incorporation was issued to the Brickhouse Banking Company, whose principal place of business was in the Hare Valley in Northampton County. By law the capital stock of the bank was not to be less…

Historical Significance After the Civil War, a group of African Americans, Native Americans, and people of mixed heritage founded Thoroughfare Community, now part of Broad Run, Virginia. Community members built houses, and in 1885, constructed the…

Historical Significance Until the 1960s, "Vinegar Hill" was a large African American neighborhood located in Charlottesville just west of the city's present-day Downtown Mall. The origins of the district's name have become obscured among varying…

Historical Significance The predecessor to Wiley Hall (located on the Emory & Henry College campus) was called "The College" and served as a hospital for black Union soldiers, all members of the segregated 5th United States Cavalry, who were…

Historical Significance This marker is one of the original forty boundary stones for the District of Columbia. The stone was set in 1792 by Major Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker as the westernmost point of the city. Banneker (1731-1806) was a…

Historical Significance Spring Park is the closest modern feature to Young's Springs, the site where on August 10, 1800, fellow conspirators elected Gabriel the General of the Rebel Army. Gabriel was enslaved on the Brookfield Plantation in Henrico…

Historical Significance The stone marking the southern corner of the District of Columbia marks the spot surveyed in 1791 by Benjamin Banneker, a Free Black mathematician and astronomer born in Maryland. Banneker made his calculations from the…

Historical Significance The original building of the Richmond Almshouse was erected in 1860-61 as a place of refuge for indigent whites. During the Civil War, the house was converted into a hospital and later served as temporary quarters for the…

Historical Significance The Upper Appomattox Navigation canal system was built between 1795 and 1850, connecting Petersburg with Appomattox valley farms as far away as Farmville (a distance of about 65 miles). It was built and operated mostly by…