Stanton Family Cemetery

Historical Significance

Started in 1853, the Stanton family cemetery in rural Buckingham County is one of the state's few surviving burying grounds established by free blacks before the Civil War and held by the same family to the present. The Stanton family, whose members are recorded as free blacks as early as 1820, was one of the few extended free black families living in rural Virginia at the height of the slavery period. Daniel and Nancy Stanton purchased the forty-six acre farm in 1853. That same year, Mrs. Stanton became the first known individual interred in the Stanton Family Cemetery when she died of "bilious colic" (colic caused by excess bile).

The current acreage of the land stands at ninety acres and has at least thirty-six graves, spanning four generations. The cemetery features six rows spaced from one to five feet apart and varying in size from two to nine irregularly spaced graves. Most graves have both head and footstones and two children's graves are identified by their small size. All are oriented on an east-west axis.

The Stanton Family Cemetery retains twenty-one, rough-cut, plain, and slate markers. One is lightly engraved, but oral history and the writing style indicate that it is a recent inscription. Most of the slate gravemarkers are irregular, rectangular slabs about eighteen by ten inches and one inch thick, but there is considerable variety among the markers. Many bear the unmistakable tablet-like form often associated with traditional markers while others are cruder slabs. Some markers have been finished to have a fairly smooth surface while others retain a substantial degree of texture. Fieldstones mark eight graves and marble military gravestones mark the graves of three World War I veterans. 

Physical Description

The Stanton Family Cemetery is located in the northeastern section of Buckingham County about five miles south of the James River on a 90.24-acre tract of land in the ownership of Stanton family members. The approximately 4,400-square-foot cemetery is located about 30 feet east of State Route 677 on nearly level ground. The cemetery lies in a rural setting of field and forest and sits approximately 1,500 feet northwest of the Stanton family house site, of which only the foundation survives.

Geographical and Contact Information

East side of Route 677, 0.4 miles from junction with Route 676
Arvonia, Virginia
23004

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Stanton Family Cemetery,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed November 19, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/411.
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