Cemeteries at Avoca

Cemetery for Enslaved African-Americans

Cemetery Timeline

Ca. 1790-1860 – Slaves from Avoca and nearby Otterbourne plantations were buried at the cemetery with common quartz and gabbro rocks used as headstones. (According to Fauntleroy family tradition, the first burial at this cemetery was a Native American who drowned in the nearby Staunton River.)

2004 – Pete Fauntleroy, the last person born at Avoca, confirmed that the field opposite the house’s back porch contained an old slave cemetery. It had been shown to him by his father when he was a boy.

2005 - Site was cleared by Andrew Hudgins in fulfillment of requirements for his Eagle Scout badge. Entrance to the site was cleared by volunteers and Avoca staff.

2006 - Site confirmed as a historic slave cemetery after research of county records.

2010 – Cemetery was fenced in thanks to sponsorships from Finch & Finch Funeral and Crematory Services, Sons of Confederate Veterans and an anonymous donor. The cemetery was consecrated by a descendant of a slave from the neighboring plantation, Reverend Alfred Dearing. Also, cemetery is featured in an article appearing nationally in USA Today.

2012 – The Town of Altavista traded town-owned land for the site. This ensured the protection of the cemetery as a protected historic cemetery. The road to the cemetery completed thanks to a grant from the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust and Altavista’s Department of Public Works.  GLCT provided funds for the purchase of materials for the road and signage; and the Department of Public Works provided the labor for the road and sign installation. It was truly a community project.

2014 - Non-invasive, ground-penetrating radar is utilized to make three determinations. First, it was confirmed that all suspected grave sites were surrounded by the fence built in 2010. Secondly, it was determined that there were two supposed  unmarked graves in the cemetery. Finally, it was determined that all but one gravestone was within six inches of an apparent burial site.

A member of the Campbell Guards (Sons of Confederate Veterans) assists in the construction of the cemetery fence.

A member of the Campbell Guards (Sons of Confederate Veterans) assists in the construction of the cemetery fence.

Family Cemetery (Lynch/Ward/Dearing/Fauntleroy)

Grave of Col. Charles Lynch (1736-1796)

Grave of Col. Charles Lynch (1736-1796)