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Ground radar uncovers graves at historic African-American cemetery

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) — In September, the Daughters of Zion Cemetery in Charlottesville went through a ground penetrating radar survey.

Through the survey, archaeologists hoped to discover some of the unknown history in the once-forgotten grave site.
It’s been known at least 300 people are buried in the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, but thanks to ground penetrating radar, the city can confirm there are many more than that.
For years, many residents passed by without so much as a second glance, but the cemetery tells a nearly forgotten story of a vibrant community.
“Well it’s an old African-American cemetery,” said Charlottesville resident Robert King.
King’s great-grandmother is part of that legacy. She is interred at the Daughters of Zion Cemetery.
The cemetery was founded in 1873, ten years after the Emancipation Proclamation and contains a lot of history.
“Those are the worst cared for cemeteries,” said King. “A lot of times, people were coming out of reconstruction, they were poor and didn’t look back too much, I think it’s great we’re starting to look back.”

King visited as a child and remembers seeing his great-grandmother’s gravestone, but like many other markers, it was lost.
Now, thanks to efforts of the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, King along with the entire city is getting back a piece of history.
“NAEVA geophysics was doing a survey of a portion of the cemetery using ground penetrating radar.” said Rivanna Archaeology Services,” Steve Thompson.
According to Thompson, NAEVA was contracted by the city of Charlottesville to perform a geophysical radar investigation at the cemetery. He says they wanted to see if there were more people buried at the cemetery than previously believed.
The results are in.
“Rows upon rows of unmarked graves,” said Thompson.
Eleven rows of unmarked graves to be exact.
Members of the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion said the results were a tremendous find on the long road ahead to restore the historic cemetery.
The Preservers say the next steps are to identify and repair stones that are broken, clean the cemetery, and they also hope to get a monument to honor the unknown at the cemetery.
Click here to check out the news video: Ground radar uncovers graves at historic African-American cemetery.

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