Riverdale in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Cherry Hill Cemetery
An African American Burial Ground
Cherry Hill Cemetery is an African American burial ground established in 1884 by Josiah Adams. Before emancipation, Adams lived and worked as a free man at the Calvert Family’s plantation, Riversdale. Census records between 1840 and 1870 list Josiah as a laborer, manager, and gardener. In addition to the graves of the Josiah Adams family, members of other local African American families, including the Beckett and Plummer families are buried here.
With burials from 1884 through the 1940s, Cherry Hill Cemetery is significant as the only intact African American family burial ground in the Riverdale-Bladensburg-Hyattsville area. Graves are marked with pieces of local ironstone and yucca plants. The use of local stones and plants as grave markers is common in African American burial grounds and thought to have its origins in Africa.
“... I direct that my body be decently interred in the graveyard set apart on lot number two on the annexed plat of my land according to Christian rites and ceremonies and that my funeral be conducted in a manner corresponding with my estate and situation in life.”
Josiah Adams - Last will and Testament - August 1884
Cemetery [highlighted] on an 1884 plat of Josiah Adams’ farm.
Josiah Adams is listed in the 1880s census as a farmer. He accumulated 50 acres of land between 1871-1883, reserving a small plot to be used as a burial ground for his extended family. The remainder was divided among his family and heirs as farmland.
[Page from the 1880 U.S. Census, highlighting Josiah Adams, his family and laborers.]
Graves in many historic African American cemeteries are marked with plants, such as yuccas and trees, a tradition believed to have derived from African spiritual beliefs. Yucca plants once outlined the entrance to Cherry Hill Cemetery
“Yucca”: engraving by Georg Dionysius Ehert, 1750.
[Photo: Iron stone grave markers and yucca plants.]
Erected by Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
Location. 38° 57.335′ N, 76° 54.058′ W. Marker is in Riverdale, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is on Ingraham Street south of Oliver Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6821 Ingraham St., Riverdale MD 20737, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Greenbelt Park (approx. 1.6 miles away); Water Greenbelt: A Bold Experiment (approx. 1.6 miles away); Riverdale School (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Riversdale Dependency (approx. 1.7 miles away); Riverdale Park (approx. 1.7 miles away); This Demiculverin (approx. 1.7 miles away); Signs of War (approx. 1.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Riverdale.
Additional keywords. Reconstruction; racial segregation; "Adams Cemetery"; Cherry Hill Cemetery Historic Site; MNCPPC.
Categories. • African Americans • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 964 times since then. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.