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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery

 
 
Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
1. Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery Marker
Inscription. In 1939, Samuel Javins conveyed the land which was referred to as "Oakland Church lot" nine years earlier, to the Oakland Baptist Church, after the death of his wife, Florence McKnight Javins. She inherited the property from her mother, Harriet Stuart McKnight Shorts, one of the founders of the church. Family ownership of the land started in 1879, when Burr Shorts, Harriet's husband, began purchasing 10 acres after living here at least 9 years.

The Shorts-McKnight extended family was one of the principal founding families of "The Fort," a post-Civil War African American community. Family members continued living on some of the original Shorts land until the 1960s. Three McKnight family graves are the earliest known in the cemetery and predate church ownership of the land: James W. Terrell and Maria McKnight Blackburn (1925), and Burney Terrell, wife of James and sister of Maria (1930). A land exchange with the City of Alexandria reconfigured the burial lot, extending it to the north and shortening the west side.

Families living in "The Fort" and "Seminary" community with members buried in the Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery: Carpenter Casey Crone Hall Henry Javins Johnson Lewis Moore Nelson Randall Roy Rust Simms Smith Terrell Wanzer
 
Location.
Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
2. Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery Marker
38° 49.794′ N, 77° 6.052′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from West Braddock Road east of North Howard Street, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located in Fort Ward Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4301 W Braddock Rd, Alexandria VA 22304, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Oakland Baptist Church (a few steps from this marker); Within Its Walls (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ward (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Bombproof (about 400 feet away); Entrance Gate to Fort Ward (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Ward (about 500 feet away); Powder Magazine and Filling Room (about 500 feet away); Northwest Bastion (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Also see . . .  The Fort Heritage Trail Brochure. (PDF), City of Alexandria. (Submitted on March 5, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansCemeteries & Burial SitesChurches, Etc.
 
James William Terrell and Burney McKnight Terrell image. Click for full size.
3. James William Terrell and Burney McKnight Terrell
James William Terrell (left), a founder of the Oakland Baptist Church, and wife, Burney McKnight Terrell, are two of the first people known to have been buried in the church cemetery. The northern end of the fenced area was bequeathed to Burney by her mother, Harriet McKnight Shorts. The Terrells were early owners of property in "The Fort." Burney and her brother, Searles, appear in the 1870 federal census living at the nearby "Menokin" estate owned by Cassius Lee, a cousin of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who visited in May 1870. The Terrells later lived on Leesburg Pike (now King Street), and James operated a small grocery store for "coloreds" where T.C. Williams High School stands today.
Close-up of photos on marker
Mollie Nelson image. Click for full size.
4. Mollie Nelson
Mollie Nelson, a founder of Oakland Baptist Church, was a midwife and one of the pillars of "The Fort" and "Seminary" community. Born in 1886, she was buried in the cemetery in 1976. Elizabeth Henry Douglas remembers: “We had to go right up to Aunt Mollie's house, and you crossed the bridge and go right up. She wasn't any relation to us, but she was the one that delivered babies all throughout the county.”
Close-up of photo on marker
James Lewis, Sr. and James Lewis, Jr. image. Click for full size.
5. James Lewis, Sr. and James Lewis, Jr.
The Lewis and Roy families are two of the many represented in this cemetery. Minnie Roy Lewis was buried here in 1952; the Earnest and Elnora Roy graves are also here. Minnie's baby, Russell Lewis, shares her gravestone. Her husband, James Lewis, Sr. (right), worked as sexton and groundskeeper at the Episcopal High School for Boys and the Virginia Theological Seminary. The couple lived at the school until buying their own home on Quaker Lane and raising 10 children. James was a deacon and active member of Oakland Baptist Church for 55 years. Their eldest child, James Lewis, Jr. (left), was born on the school grounds and was employed there until 1941. He then worked as chauffeur and personal assistant to John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America. Lewis continued to assist all UMWA presidents until retirement in 2002 at age 90.
Close-up of photo on marker
Morris Leroy Johnson and Lonnie Richard Johnson image. Click for full size.
6. Morris Leroy Johnson and Lonnie Richard Johnson
Morris Leroy Johnson and his brother Lonnie Richard Johnson, ages 9 and 11, were buried in the [Oakland Baptist Church] cemetery next to their father, Morris Johnson. Their deaths precipitated a change in the City of Alexandria a decade before the Civil Rights movement. At that time the only municipal pool was open to white residents only. African Americans had two ways to swim; take a bus (weekly) to a DC pool or go to the Potomac River (Hunting Creek). The brothers, made a “boat” out of cardboard and launched into the Potomac river; both drowned. After this tragic mishap, the City opened the Johnson Memorial Pool...
Close-up of photos on marker
Oakland Baptist Church Private Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
7. Oakland Baptist Church Private Cemetery
Headstone image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 13, 2014
8. Headstone
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 528 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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