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

Lumpkins Jail

Archeology Study Site

Lumpkins Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
1. Lumpkins Jail Marker
Inscription. The grass and wood chips to your right mark the area of an archeological examination of the remnants of one of our nations most notorious slave jails: the Devilís Half Acre ---- the place where run-away slaves were punished and large numbers of “surplus” slaves were collected for re-sale in the large markets of Charleston and New Orleans.

The specific test site was a 15 foot deep pit dug near the center. It revealed two things: the foundation of a kitchen building (located in your view ahead and slightly to the right and the brick courtyard of the jail building that was located at the bottom of the hill, [sharply to your right]. A firm walking surface around the jail was necessary and the area was muddy since old Shockoe Creek once ran close by.

This land is now about 15 feet higher than it was then and it once sloped up the hill to MCV --- across what is now I-95. The boundaries of the jail fence and location of the buildings are underground and somewhat difficult to identity, so the markings are approximate.

This was once an undesirable area. The creek flooded regularly and was contaminated with sewage and work shop wastes. A haze of smoke from the cooking and heating fires was trapped by the valley walls on either side. It was smelly and polluted.

Lumpkin's Jail detail image. Click for full size.
2. Lumpkin's Jail detail
dig has been carefully re-filled with sand
and re-covered with earth to protect what has been found and preserve the integrity of what remains. This also allows for easy resumption of archeological exploration in the future.

The piles of rock, brick and boulders ahead are remnants of the foundations of an iron factory built over the site in the 1880ís.. The cobblestones and broken bricks came from the paving used around the School for Former Slaves that utilized the old slave jail immediately after the Civil War and later morphed into Virginia Union University. These are being preserved and will have value for other archeological studies.

Over 75 items were recovered from the exploration. Still being analyzed, they are remnants of every day life and offer insight into how slaves existed: pieces of crockery, plates and bottles, a childís doll, and the sole of a simple shoe. Items were in surprisingly good condition because the area is so damp. Moisture causes the soil to hold little oxygen and therefore few bacteria.

Additional archeological work is planned by agencies of the city and state working in concert with private groups using the services of The James River Institute of Archeology. The dig is now considered one of the most important study sites in the nation for understanding the details of the American trade
Lumpkin's Slave Jail Site image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 5, 2011
3. Lumpkin's Slave Jail Site
in human beings. If you wish to become personally involved, you may contribute to the research and to the improvement of this historical site via the Richmond Slave Trail Commission, EDI, 701 n. 25 St, Richmond VA 23223.

This sign paid for by a donation from First Unitarian Church of Richmond
Erected by First Unitarian Church of Richmond.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. 37° 32.178′ N, 77° 25.72′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from East Franklin Street near North 15th Street. Touch for map. This marker is located in a parking lot between E Franklin St and Broad St just east of I-95. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named Lumpkin's Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Negro Burial Ground (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Execution of Gabriel (about 400 feet away); Richmondís African Burial Ground (about 700 feet away); The Triangle (about 700 feet away); Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome
Winfree Cottage image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 5, 2011
4. Winfree Cottage
The only remaining slave cottage in Richmond
(about 700 feet away); Odd Fellows Hall (about 800 feet away); Reconciliation Statue (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Regarding Lumpkins Jail. This marker was replaced by a new 3-panel marker also named Lumpkin's Jail (see nearby markers).
Also see . . .
1. Unearthing Richmondís Slave History: Lumpkinís Jail. Alliance To Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods. (Submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

2. Lumpkin's Jail Project. James River Institute for Archaeology. (Submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
Categories. African AmericansAnthropology
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,352 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on January 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on December 28, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   4. submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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