Community to gather Saturday for slave cemetery dedication

A dedication ceremony for a slave cemetery discovered in Quicksburg will be held Saturday at the site.

Sarah Kohrs, director of Corhaven Graveyard, said the cemetery is located on land along Holman’s Creek. Kohrs said Bill and Tara Haley owned a nearby farm and the Corhaven spiritual retreat nearby and wanted to purchase 10 acres of land along the creek in 2009. Later they discovered the land they had bought held a slave cemetery now known as Corhaven Graveyard.

Since then, research of the site has unearthed about 24 slave graves through remote sensing. Kohrs said the tombstones did not have any inscriptions because at the time Virginia law allowed for punishment of slaves who could read and write.

Representatives from James Madison University and Stonewall Jackson High School as well as local historians, archivists and archeologists came together over the past couple of years to learn more about the history of the site.

“It was a community effort,” Kohrs said about the research and restoration project.

Since its discovery, Kohrs said funds have been raised to build a fence around it, create a tribute garden with plants that would have been present at the time period, and add a walking path, a sculpture and a kiosk with historical information about the graveyard.

“It’s really been transformed,” she said, adding that restoration of Corhaven Graveyard is “not only for honoring the people who are buried there, but also to bring healing and community. An event such as slavery is something that affects every life, whether you realize it or not.”

Kohrs said among community members planning to pay their respects on Saturday are Shenandoah County archivist Zach Hottel, Stonewall Jackson High School history club members, representatives from Coming to the Table, the Rev. Bill Haley, the Rev. Mark Bowyer, and church members and choirs who will say prayers and sing songs honoring those buried at the site.

Those attending will also be able to visit slave quarters where the slaves lived.

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Corhaven Graveyard, which is located on a wooded knoll near Holman’s Creek near the intersection of Quicksburg Road and Turkey Knob Road in Quicksburg.
Who: The ceremony is open to the public.
Information: http://www.corhavengraveyard.org.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com