TO:                  Juandiego Wade

FROM:            Julie Mahon

DATE:             February 26, 2004

RE:                   Blenheim Road – 795 Historic Resources Review   


The African-American cemetery located in the Blenheim Road area has not been previously surveyed by the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) nor evaluated for eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Preliminary research conducted by this department has revealed the following:


1.      The earliest legible date recorded on the grave markers located in the cemetery is 1879 CE, which indicates the site to be historic according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for evaluation. Fifty years or older is defined as “historic.”

2.      The cemetery has been associated with the Middle Oak Baptist Church (DHR #002-1161), which has been surveyed by the Department of historic Resources, but not evaluated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

3.      The inscription on the grave marker of Katherine Lewis, “A Memorial of Affection and Appreciation…Redlands 1840 – Blenheim 1928…Faithful Unto Death,” indicates a connection—possibly a former slave—to Redlands, a Carter family plantation established ca. 1792, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

4.      Fieldstones used as grave markers, several of which are located in this cemetery, reflect a rural burial tradition typical of 18th and 19th century Central Virginia, often used to identify the graves of slaves.


Consequently, there may be a link between this cemetery and Redlands and to the history of the African-American community of the Blenheim area, which suggests possible historical significance at least on the local level.


To be eligible for the National Register, a cemetery or burial place must be shown to be significant under one or more of the four basic Criteria for Evaluation. In other words, the cemetery must be associated with (A) a significant event, (B) the lives of persons significant in our past, (C) be reflective of distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represents the work of a master, and/or (D) has yielded or has the potential to yield information important to prehistory or history.  Also the cemetery must meet special Criteria Considerations linking the site to a broader historical context. 


Without further investigation, it is impossible to determine whether this cemetery would meet the stringent requirements for listing on the National Register; however, local significance and ties to the existing African-American community of the Blenheim area should also be taken into consideration.

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