Church Discovers History in Forgotten Graveyard

Growing up in the area – this community was always referred to as “Hall’s Hill” even though it’s official name was High View Park. It is one of several hills overlooking the city of Washington DC from the Virginia side of the river. It was the first free-black community in Northern Virginia, and today maintains some of that flavor despite folks moving in of different ethnicity.

This is still an area which has black churches, black barbershops, and black beauty parlours. I don’t believe any of the local stores or shops survive, but several turn of the century buildings are still standing. Some of the families still living in this community have roots here which go back to slavery. Those “old” families purchased their land after the Civil War from the Plantation Owner, and set off to build a new community. I’m old enough to remember the “Ice Store” on the main street before it was torn down, which by my time had been converted into a local Mom and Pop grocery store, although locals still referred to it as the “Ice Store”.

Some years ago I met a guy who was uncovering graveyards in rural areas on the Eastern Shore. Seems once the families moved away, often the presence of the graveyard was forgotten. He used some high tech equipment to identify the graves, and sometimes could uncover markers with information on them. It was impossible to determine who was in the graves, sometimes which predated the Civil War.

Calloway Methodist Cemetery

Calloway Cemetery preservation unearths Arlington churchgoers’ roots

When Saundra Green looks over the compact cemetery adjacent to Calloway United Methodist Church in Arlington, she sees a history of her community. The oldest grave contains Margaret Hyson, who died in 1891 and was a slave on the Hall’s Hill plantation before emancipation.

Under another marker is Hesakiah Dorsey, a slave who joined the Union Army during the Civil War and who had 17 children. Green’s great-grandfather, T.W. Hyson, is buried here, too; in 1927, he was a principal at then-segregated Chesterbrook High School in Fairfax County.

And there’s Louise Bolden, who died, according to Green’s family history, on the way to tell relatives about another death in the family. “I also have two uncles buried here who we can’t find: my mother’s brothers Leon and Ernest,” Green said. Burials at Calloway Cemetery ended in 1959, and over time, gravestones fell or slumped. People forgot who rested in unmarked plots; the lawn became bumpy and uneven.

Congregants who gather on the church’s driveway after services have done their best to keep the grass cut and the weeds trimmed.

Now Arlington County is about to designate the tiny plot at 5000 Lee Hwy. as a local historic district, ensuring that it will be protected and that the county will have to review proposed changes. County preservation planner Cynthia Liccese-Torres said members of the church approached officials two years ago about preserving and restoring the cemetery. Liccese-Torres, who has worked for the county for 11 years, began looking at census and historical data. She unearthed a 1985 survey of cemeteries by the Arlington Genealogical Club. She circulated a questionnaire at the church to tease out oral reports of who might be buried there. She found an archaeologist who could gently probe the property and identify between 40 and 50 “lost” graves and uncover markers buried by time and soil. Her best estimate is that about 100 people are buried in the 7,100-square-foot lawn.

She found the project fascinating. One of the most eye-opening moments was when she discovered small crosses on a Virginia Department of Transportation map of Lee Highway. It turned out that when the highway was widened in 1960, 10 bodies were exhumed. The state could not identify the deceased, but there was a record of where they were taken: Coleman Cemetery, in the Alexandria section of southern Fairfax County. Last year, some church members went there to look for the graves but did not find them. “As far as we know, the people who were removed were in unmarked graves, and it’s possible” they are buried together in an unmarked grave at Coleman, ­Liccese-Torres said.

The information, especially the details from old census records, was welcomed by the 156 members of the 145-year-old church. “It gave us so much more family history,” Green said. “It’s a lot . . . that this new generation of us didn’t know. We didn’t know how to find it. For the community, it’s important to know the African American history of Arlington, because it’s very prominent and it goes back more than 140 years.” Calloway United was established in 1866 by freed slaves, some of whom bought land from plantation owners William Marcey and Bazil Hall, for whom they had worked.

Its members formed the stable, close-knit community called Highview Park/Hall’s Hill. The community was self-contained in many ways, including by a notorious eight-foot-tall fence along 17th Road North that separated it from its white neighbors until the 1950s. Black residents built their own businesses — a barber shop, two ice stores, a fire station, a newspaper and a bus company.

Health needs were cared for by a midwife and a physician. A folklorist wrote a book about the neighborhood, drawing on its oral history. In 1959, Calloway’s members were among the four youngsters who integrated all-white Stratford Junior High, the first Arlington County public school to challenge Virginia’s “massive resistance” opposition to desegregation. In the 1960s, the church housed civil rights demonstrators headed to the big marches and protests in the District, while its members worked to desegregate local lunch counters, hospitals and theaters.

In advance of the county’s designation of Calloway Cemetery as historic, church members are making plans. They’d like to put in a fence, clean and raise some of the markers, and level the ground. It’s not yet clear how they will pay for the improvements, but that hasn’t diminished support. “We are thrilled because some members of our church didn’t realize their own grandparents were here,” said Rev. Sonja Oliver, the church pastor, who arrived in June to find research well underway. “This cemetery is extremely significant in the lives of people because it fills a void. It’s a missing piece in so many people’s lives — that sense of heritage and pride.” On a sunny, breezy day, as clouds blew south and several old tree stumps adorned with cheery artificial flowers stood sentinel, Green and Oliver looked pleased. “This is not just about the past,” Oliver said. “It’s the future. A legacy is only as good as its life span.”

Woman Burns Oldest Tree in Florida to Light Crack Pipe

Unbelievable!

“The Senator”, Fire Destroys Historic Tree

A woman on Tuesday was charged with setting a fire that burned The Senator, one of the world’s oldest cypress trees — and she told authorities she did it because she was wanted light to see the drugs she was doing, investigators said.

Two witnesses identified Sara Barnes, 26, as the person who set the fire, authorities said.

Barnes took photos of the flames with her cellphone and told one of the witnesses that she started it, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Servicessaid.

“She did not call the Fire Department or 911 to report the fire,” said Sterling Ivey, an agriculture-department spokesman.

Sara Barnes

Suspect - Sarah Barnes

The tree, which had twigs and branches piled at the base, burned quickly.

“It’s a great fuel source,” Ivey said. “Unfortunately.”

Investigators searched Barnes’ apartment near Winter Park Tuesday and confiscated her cellphone and laptop computer. Authorities found methamphetamine, a glass pipe and other drug paraphernalia, they said.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office arrested Barnes late Tuesday on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Another woman with Barnes at the apartment was arrested on charges of drug and paraphernalia possession.

Her Facebook page, which describes her as a model who attended Winter Park High School, contained several profanity-laced comments late Tuesday. One decried her for “destroying a global treasure,”Pictures: The Senator, the fire and historical photos

The Senator, which stood at Big Tree Park north of Longwood, burned a little after 5:30 a.m. Jan. 16. Known as “The Big Tree,” it was thought to have been more than 3,500 years old. With a height of 118 feet and a diameter of nearly 18 feet, the tree was a tourist attraction long before Walt Disney World.

A tip to Crimeline Jan. 17 led to Barnes’ arrest. She is being held in the Seminole County Jail.

Another person was with Barnes when the interior of the tree was set on fire, Ivey said. That person has not been publicly identified or charged.

Seminole County will spend nearly $30,000 to install fencing at Big Tree Park near the site where The Senator stood, county commissioners decided today. The fence is designed to prevent someone from stealing the remains of the tree or damaging Lady Liberty, another cypress tree that is an estimated 2,000 years old.

Thicke Sisters Happier

Keeping a positive self image with all the isht that has been unloaded on black women over the centuries in America is indeed a miracle of resilience. There is a difference between “Thicke” and “fat” though…

Black women heavier and happier with their bodies than white women, poll finds

In the pre-dawn darkness, the gym doors close, and the black women start to move. House versions of Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman,” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” blare from speakers as the 30 or so women, most with curves, not angles, grab their jump ropes at the L.A. Fitness club in Capitol Heights. They double-time it as fitness instructor Michelle Gibson counts them down from the front of the class.

“Four more, three more, two more, one!” she yells, twirling her rope. She jumps faster and faster until the rope and her sneakers blur on the hardwood. Her ample bosom strains against the top of her sequined half-camisole.

“Show-off!” yells a woman from the back as Gibson laughs. She demonstrates hinge-kicks high above her own head, and sweat darkens the waistband of the fitted black pants that cling to the uber-roundness of her bottom. “Fight for your sexy!” she commands her class.

No one in this boot camp works out to be model thin. And nearly to a person, they reject any notion that they should, or that that standard is even cute. Or realistic. Or mentally healthy. That’s especially true of Gibson, 41, who has been a fitness instructor for 12 years, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at her.

Like many black women, Gibson describes her 5-foot-4, size 14-plus physique as “thick,” and considers herself ultra-feminine — no matter what the mainstream culture has to say about it.

She’s one of the most full-figured women in the gym, but she’s in love with her body. And it’s a sentiment that syncs perfectly with a recent survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation that focused on African American women. The poll found that although black women are heavier than their white counterparts, they report having appreciably higher levels of self-esteem. Although 41 percent of average-sized or thin white women report having high self-esteem, that figure was 66 percent among black women considered by government standards to be overweight or obese.

This is not news to Gibson or the other women in her morning boot camp class. They grew up listening to songs like the Commodores’s “Brick House” and hearing relatives extol the virtues of “big legs” and women with meat on their bones.

The notion that all women must be culled into a single little-bitty aesthetic is just one more tyranny, they say. And black women have tools for resisting tyranny, especially from a mainstream culture that has historically presented them negatively, or not at all.

Freed from that high-powered media gaze, generations of black women have fashioned their own definitions of beauty with major assists from literature and music — and help from their friends.

At this gym in Capitol Heights at the crack of dawn, and in myriad other places, that thinking has made black women happier with their bodies than white women in many ways. And in some ways, it’s put them on the slippery slope toward higher rates of obesity…

13 Syrians Killed Rescuing British Journalist

This sounds like something out of an Action and Adventure movie – but it is real life. In an effort to save foreign journalists targeted by government forces, the Syrian rebels lost 13 of their own. The Revolution will not be televised…

Wounded British journalist smuggled safely out of besieged Syrian city of Homs

A wounded British photographer who had been trapped in the besieged Syrian city of Homs has been spirited safely into Lebanon in a risky journey that killed 13 rebels who helped him escape the relentless shelling and gunfire.

Also Tuesday, a Syrian diplomat stormed out of an emergency U.N. meeting amid renewed calls for a cease-fire to deliver humanitarian aid. A top human rights official said a U.N. panel’s report concluded that members of the Damascus regime were responsible for “crimes against humanity.”

The United Nations said the death toll in the 11-month uprising against authoritarian President Bashar Assad was well over 7,500, and activists reported more than 250 dead in the past two days alone _ mostly from government shelling in Homs and Hama province.

Tunisia’s president _ the first since the country’s own Arab Spring uprising toppled his predecessor _ offered the Syrian leader asylum as part of a negotiated peace, an offer Assad will almost surely refuse.

The harrowing ordeal of British photographer Paul Conroy, who was wounded with a French colleague last week by government rockets that killed two others, has drawn focus to the siege of Homs, which has emerged as the center of the anti-Assad uprising.

Hundreds have been killed in the city, parts of which the army has surrounded and shelled daily for more than three weeks. Many have died while venturing outside to forage for food, and activists have posted videos online of homes reduced to rubble and alleyways rendered no-go zones by snipers.

Conroy’s escape was the first sign of relief for a group of Western journalists who sneaked into Syria illegally and reached the embattled Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr only to find themselves trapped. Government rockets bombarded the makeshift media center they shared with activists last week, killing two of them and injuring Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier. Conroy and Bouvier later appeared in activist videos lying on makeshift hospital beds, pleading for help.

Conroy crossed the border into neighboring Lebanon after leaving Homs on Sunday evening, according to the global activist group Avaaz, which said it organized the evacuation with local activists.

The group said 35 Syrians volunteered to help get the journalists out and 13 were killed in the operation.

No Nookie for the Bedroom Gestapo

Dayam! This should have the effect of clearing a lot of right wing minds. This Republican even relates his experience in proverbially “sleeping on the couch” as a result of the recent Virginia anti-abortion bill which would require women to undergo vaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Virginia Lawmaker: Ultrasound Flap Cost Me Nookie

We’ll hope this is the last word on Virginia’stransvaginal ultrasound controversy for a long time. GOP delegate Dave Albo took to the floor of the state House to describe how it caused him to miss out on a romantic night with his wife, reports the Huffington Post. (See the video.) Albo described how he was trying to put the moves on his wife—he even played the cheesy “mood music” for his fellow legislators—when a news show came on with a segment about the controversy.

Albo’s own name was mentioned, and they watched the entire thing. “The show’s over, and [my wife] looks at me, and she goes, ‘I gotta go to bed.’” Referring to a Democratic lawmaker who appeared on the show, Albo joked, “So if the gentleman’s plan was to make sure there is one less Republican in this world, he did.” Albo eventually wrote the compromise language that gives women the option of refusing the procedure, notes ABC NewsLess »

Who’s Your Daddy? About Black Folks and Charity

That Christian spirit… Don’t believe it?

Check this out.

Charitable Donations: Blacks Outpace Whites

Black Emplyees Influence Corporations to Give

Reuters is reporting today on a study showing that African American donors give higher percentages of their incomes to charity than their white counterparts, with nearly two-thirds of black households make charitable donations, worth a total of about $11 billion a year. And it’s not just a little more: that number means black donors turn over a full 25 percent more of their incomes than white donors annually, according to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors research.  The results have many wondering why more African Americans don’t self-identify as philanthropists.

From Reuters:

But they don’t see themselves as big players in the charitable arena, and that presents an image problem, say experts like Judy Belk, a senior vice president for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

“African Americans have been very uncomfortable with the title of philanthropist,” Belk said. “If you don’t see role models who look like you when people start talking about issues related to philanthropy, you start believing, ‘Hey, maybe I’m not a philanthropist.'”

Belk said she got so weary of hearing this that she helped produce a 12-minute video released in November, dubbed, “I Am A Philanthropist,” which features diverse faces, races and ethnicities of donors and grant-makers. .  .

The report cites black churches as a historically important repository of giving, but notes that other important causes are coming to the fore.

While religious giving was the largest charitable category overall, it leveled off in dollar terms in 2010, according to Giving USA, a Chicago-area foundation that publishes philanthropy data and trends. At the same time, contributions for the arts increased almost 6 percent, a trend that was consistent across all racial groups.

A Vaccine for Heroin Addiction?

Wow – this could be  major game changer.

And you thought there were only Zombies in the movies..

Mexican scientists successfully test vaccine that could cut heroin addiction

A group of Mexican scientists is working on a vaccine that could reduce addiction to one of the world’s most notorious narcotics: heroin.

Researchers at the country’s National Institute of Psychiatry say they have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans.

The vaccine, which has been patented in the US, makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure when they smoked or injected it.

“It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs,” the institute’s director Maria Elena Medina said on Thursday.

Scientists worldwide have been searching for drug addiction vaccines for several years, but none have yet been fully developed. A group at the US National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported significant progress in a vaccine for cocaine.

However, the Mexican scientists appear to be close to making a breakthrough on a heroin vaccine and have received funds from the US institute as well as the Mexican government.

During the tests, mice were given access to deposits of heroin over an extended period of time. Those given the vaccine showed a huge drop in heroin consumption, giving the institute hope that it could also work on people, Medina said.

Kim Janda, a scientist working on his own narcotics vaccines at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, said that the Mexican vaccine could function but with some shortcomings.

“It could be reasonably effective, but maybe too general and affect too many different types of opioids as well as heroin,” Janda said.

Mexico has a growing drug addiction problem. Health secretary Jose Cordoba recently said the country now has about 450,000 hard drug addicts, particularly along the trafficking corridors of the US-Mexico border.

Mexican gangsters grow opium poppies in the Sierra Madre mountains and convert them into heroin known as Black Tar and Mexican Mud, which are smuggled over the Rio Grande.

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