Headstones found in King George to be moved to Maryland

by | Aug 23, 2021 | History

 Dozens of headstones from a historic African American cemetery in DC that were used as erosion control along the Virginia shoreline of the Potomac River are being relocated to a memorial garden in Maryland.  Governor Northam and Maryland and DC officials attended a ceremony in Caledon State Park in King George on Monday to mark the transfer of the first 55 headstones from Virginia to Maryland.   The grave markers will be part of a memorial garden at National Harmony Memorial Park in Prince George’s County honoring the 37,000 people buried at the original cemetery.

The Columbian Harmony Cemetery was established in 1859 and was the most prominent burial site for African Americans in DC, but it was moved in the 1960s to make room for development, including the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metro station. Remains were moved to a memorial garden in Maryland, but the gravestones were sold or given away, officials said.

Grave markers ended up along a 2-mile stretch of the river of King George County, where State Senator Richard Stuart discovered them in 2016 while exploring a property he had just purchased. Historians helped Stuart learn about the origin of the gravestones and he then worked with other state leaders to return them to a proper memorial site.

Photos courtesy Governor Northam

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